Here’s a honest confession, this article has such a big importance to me that it took me a while to decide to finally start working on it. Can you believe it? Breastfeeding represents a very important part of my motherhood experience and sharing it with you is special to me. Since I started breastfeeding my twin babies, I went through an entire series of experiences, starting with very “encouraging” advice like: “It is hard to breastfeed one baby, two is impossible” and continuing with the more philosophical ones “How long do you expect to breastfeed them? There are two of them; I think it is time to stop”. Despite all the pros and cons I’ve done what I thought is best for my kids and breastfed them exclusively since they were one month old, till now when they are 18 months old. Here, in this article, I’ll start our story.
There are a lot of things I want to tell you, that’s why I’ll divide the information and will write a series of articles. This will help us get to know each other better and go step by step through all the information.
Let’s start with the beginning. During my pregnancy I wasn’t worried much regarding breastfeeding. I was sure I’ll breastfeed both of my babies, because… because why not?? I read a little bit to inform myself about this subject and what I found was enough for me to calm down. In the source of information I found, it was said that a mother could breastfeed even 3 babies if she wanted to. Milk supply works on the principle of supply and demand. Breastfeeding tells a mother’s body to produce more milk in response to her baby’s (or babies’) needs. So I calmed down and waited for my babies to arrive without worrying any more about breastfeeding. I was sure I had all the information I needed. It couldn’t have been more wrong…
First time the reality hit me was right after my babies were born. I had imagined this moment, how I will just put my babies at the breast and they will immediately start to eat. I saw many movies about newborn babies and they just started nursing like they had done this a hundred times before. The mother is happy and smiling or crying and the baby is nursing and after a while is falling asleep happily on mother’s breast. But then I learned this was only happening in the movies… hello reality!
Well, in my case it was completely different. When my babies took turns at the breast neither Anisia nor David were able to do it. They literally couldn’t take the nipple in their mouth, even though they were trying. They tried once, twice and after losing patience guess what happened: they started crying. I was disoriented; I didn’t know what to do. So I started asking nurses for advice and they explained a lot of things to me. They helped me overcome my perfect dream about breastfeeding and understand that sometimes things don’t happen like in the movies. You have to work hard and have a lot of patience, because this is about babies and every baby is special and unique.
In this article I’ll tell you what I learned during my time spent in maternity.
- In most cases the smaller the newborn is, the harder it is for him/her to latch on. They have to put more effort and they get tired faster. Usually twins are born having a smaller weight than a single baby. Anisia and David were born weighing approximately 2 kilograms each. The effort they made trying to breastfeed was much bigger comparing to a baby weighing between 3 – 4 kg. That’s why while trying to nurse, Anisia and David would get tired quickly. They would fall asleep or refuse to continue trying any more. Despite all the difficulties, the first days are very important and is crucial to “practice” and “practice”, but… with a lot of patience and sympathy. For me everything was new and unknown. I was felt lost and perplexed. I was thinking to myself: “OMG, I cannot breastfeed even one baby, what will I do with two of them?!!”. The good thing is that in the hospital I asked a lot of questions to the nurses. They helped and explained a lot of things that turned out useful later on. It is very, very important at the beginning to clarify everything which seemed unclear and unrealistic. It is absolutely normal to have many questions in the beginning and asking is the only way to learn and gain experience.
- There are different variations of nipples, such as regular, flat and inverted. I searched for information and Breastfeeding Basics had explained very clear how we can know the type of our nipple: “Before your baby is born, it is helpful to know what type of nipples you have. However, flat and inverted nipples are less easy for your baby to latch on to. It is very important to inform you regarding this before the baby is born. I checked on internet for details and Breastfeeding Basics are explaining very good how you can find out what nipples do you have: “The first thing you need to do is determine whether your nipples really are flat or inverted. You can do this while you are pregnant by performing a simple “pinch” test: Hold your breast at the edge of the areola between your thumb and index finger. Press in gently but firmly about an inch behind your nipple. If your nipple protrudes, that’s great. If it does not protrude or become erect, it is considered flat. If it retracts or disappears, it is truly inverted. Nipples that are severely flat or inverted will not respond to stimulation or cold by becoming erect. If you perform the pinch test and your nipples protrude, they aren’t truly inverted and will probably not cause any problems when you nurse your baby. I remember for me it seemed sooo strange. What? There are different types of nipples??! Does it really matter what kind they are? Does my nipple make it more difficult for my babies to grab onto? Well, it would have been easier for me had I gotten informed in advance.”
- Some babies are not able to take the nipple by themselves. So you’ll have to help them do it. In our case both of my babies needed help. It was not as easy as it seemed at the beginning and it took several weeks until Anisia and David got used to take the nipple without help. But I “practiced” a lot especially in the hospital and I always asked a nurse to sit next to me and correct if necessary while I was doing this. They had a lot of experience, because they’ve seen a lot of moms with their babies before me and my kids and most probably after, and were able to give the best advice at that moment. They helped me a lot, especially because I was disoriented and I was losing self-confidence with every failed attempt. In such cases it is very important to believe in yourself and know that the moment when babies will nurse without help will come. I remember how unrealistic it seemed at that point.
- It is different for boys and girls. In most cases it happens that boys tend to be clingier and girls more “independent”. If a baby is born with a small weight, girls, comparative to boys, usually fight more for their place on the earth. But this is only at the beginning. Boys just need a start. In our case it was much more difficult to “teach” David to latch on and breastfeed. It took to him about one month to get used to the breast. I even had to give him sometimes formula because he started losing weight. But after David got used to breastfeeding, he became such an aggressive eater. He started taking weight faster comparative to his sister. With my daughter it was the opposite. She was always trying a lot to latch and she learned very quickly. She was the one who was stimulating the breasts until David started eating normally. She actually “prepared” the breasts for him.
- It is possible not to have much milk in the first days. Especially if it is your first pregnancy. Do not panic, it is not the end of the world. If you will drink special teas for stimulating lactation, water and you latch the baby (babies in my case) at breast every time they will ask for it, in approximately one month the problem will be solved. The law of supply and demand applies to nursing mothers of twins and multiples. If you breastfeed when your babies want to eat, you can trust your body to supply enough milk. I didn’t have much milk especially in the first days and panicked. The doctors insisted to give them formula because of their low weight. I was soooo disappointed. Before my babies were born, I was 100% sure that my babies will never ever taste formula. Well, this happened and it was not the end of the world. I insisted with the breast and ended up nursing both of my babies only with breast milk. In many cases everything depends on us.
- Twins can be breastfeed in tandem. In what?? I was so confused. When a nurse came to me and I started asking her a lot of questions about breastfeeding she said: “If you want to have time for something you’ll have to learn to breastfeed them together!”. It sounded like from another planet. I thought if I’ll manage to do this I’ll consider myself a super woman. The first time we put my babies at the breast together, it was really magical, I cannot describe my emotions. Now it seems so natural like I was born doing this. And it is very, veryyy practical.
These are some of the lessons I learned during my very first days with my babies and what was very helpful for me. I thought I already knew everything about breastfeeding, but when I arrived home, I faced other difficulties and unexpected situations which I had to deal with. I’ll share them with you for sure in one of my next article about breastfeeding.
What about you? How was your experience with breastfeeding? Was it different? Do you have anything to add? I would really like to hear about it. Feel free to tell us about it in the comments below
The special bouquet – The Flower Guy
Amazing photos – Tatiana Volontir