I have been breastfeeding and expressing milk for my twin girls for the last 12 months! I’m totally throwing my hands up in the air, patting myself on the back and saying look at me….I’m bloody amazing, as I am not going to lie, it was a HUGE job and I’m bloody proud of myself.
All through my pregnancy I told myself not to get my hopes up, as I knew that feeding twins was going to be different to my other children. I fed my two other children for 18 months with no hassles, and I loved it. It was quick ,easy and came naturally to me. Yeah the first two weeks are really shit, your nipples hurt, your boobs are so sore, but I pushed through, and I was so blessed.
If this year has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that I am one determined girl! I had goals I set for my twin journey, for example, I wanted to make it to 34 weeks with the girls, so I could deliver them here in my country home town. I made it to 37.5 weeks! Growing twins was the hardest thing that my body and mind has gone through in my life so far. I was sick everyday. I was very busy already, with a toddler and teenager to look after, along with a house to run etc. I could not walk, or hold the sheer weight of the girls by the end, but I did it….and I did it alone. During this time, I also had to deal with a struggling marriage, and unfortunately, it did not survive the first year of my twin journey. But I kept going putting one foot in front of the other, determined not to give up.
The day finally came to deliver the girls. The delivery was via a planned C -Section, as they were breech. I have a massive blood,and needle phobia, so this was my worst nightmare come true. My anxiety and fears were so high, I did not cope in the C- Section. I was sedated after the girls were born, and wasn't in the best shape when I met the girls. I wasn't able to feed to girls for the first 24 hours because of my surgery and the medication they gave me. I had my fears that this would effect my feeding journey, but they assured me it wouldn't. Not being able to feed your babies straight away did have its effects, as I believe it really affected my bonding with the girls. The bond with the girls was a lot different to my singletons. I cant explain how or why it just was.
The next morning It was time to get me up, and the girls onto the breast. With like 10 pillows, and a lot of slow movements, as I was so sore, the midwives helped me to attach the girls. From this moment on, I tandem breastfed the twins. It was amazing and beautiful, even my midwives were excited. One of the midwives run out into the hall and yelled “she’s tandem feeding on her own”!!! When people saw it in action, they really were amazed.
However the next 6 weeks did not continue to be amazing. My breastfeeding journey nearly didn't make it. I had split, sore nipples and they were so full and sore, it made feeding agony. But, this was nothing to the next big hiccup that came my way!
My little girls were feeding well and gaining weight. I had a huge supply, and I tandem fed every feed. Because I was watching two babies feed, plus a toddler running in and out, I wasn’t fully in the zone. Then, at 11pm one night BAM I was hit with Mastitis. I shivered, shook and sweated through the night and woke up with a big red patch on one of my breasts. It was the first time I had mastitis. I rang the doctor and got straight in, I went to the doctor in my pjs and sparkly slippers, and was seen and put on medication straight away. I got through this ok, I stressed a bit as my milk dropped, but I made it through.
We continued on. Then things started to go down hill. One of my twins would scream every feed and was really struggling. I went to the lactation clinic for advice, this was the first of many visits. I can’t tell you how amazing these ladies were. They watched me feed, and of course, during this time, little Scarlet, the problem feeder, fed perfectly. However, they did pick up a slight tongue tie. But no one seemed fussed about this tongue tie as she was gaining weight. Another week passed of screaming, and then one weekend, my breast became so painful that I ended up back at the clinic on the Monday. The ladies hand expressed my breast for me, and they felt a lump. I was in so much pain, but my symptoms were not presenting like mastitis. I started to get beside myself, my milk was dropping, my babies weren't feeding, I started to have to dip into my over supply in freezer. By the Wednesday I was back at clinic in tears. I was given Physio on my breasts with a heat wand, then I had an Ultrasound to check if the lump was an abscess. Yes sure enough I had a breast abscess, and I was admitted to Hospital that day. I had no bags packed, and was just put straight through to the ward. I was all prepped to have my breast drained. But another doctor looked at the results and said no, it’s not an abscess, it was mastitis.So my breast wasn't drained, and I spent two nights in hospital with my babies, with drips in my arms, hardly able to hold the girls. I had no sleep and no husband to help, and it was simply awful. I was discharged sicker than when I was admitted, and I was loosing my breastfeeding journey fast.
I was never able to tandem feed again after that. I had to do the girls separately, and they began to be fussy at the breast. One twin would only take one side, and I wasn't making enough milk as my affected breast wasn't working, so I needed to top them up and my freezer stores were running low. Something wasn't right. I was passed from pillar to post at the doctor surgery. I had more check ups than I could count, and I found out my scan showed I had a 3cm lump in my breast. In the end I was to have a needle biopsy to rule out cancer. Safely to say, I was beside myself. I had some pretty dark thoughts.
Another week went past, while waiting for my biopsy. I was nearly onto my last stores of milk, and my girls were dropping weight, and I was scared that it was nearly time to start formula feeding. I was trying to express, but I was only getting 20 -40 ml, when I was previously getting full bottles, my heart was sinking.
I can’t tell you how devastated I was. Why is this? Why do we do this this ourselves? I walked out of supermarket 2 times in tears while trying to choose formula, overwhelmed with the choices, and feeling a big sense of failure. Even though " fed is best", I was devastated. Then one night I was in the shower massaging my breasts and pop!! My abscesses popped, and all this gunk came out. So my lump that should of been drained 3 weeks ago was in fact an abscess, and not cancer. It was one of the most stressful times in my life.
After all that, my daughter’s tongue tie was then snipped, but she simply couldn't breastfeed, as it was left too late. So for 10 months, I fed one twin Daisy at the breast, and with my hand pump, I pumped on the other, as I got the most milk this way, with my let down. I still had one baby at the breast, and then Scarlet was given an EBM. I did this for every feed, and pretty much had to do this every 4 hours, every day and night for the 12 months, to produce enough milk for the twins.
I write this to all the Mums who get it. It was so hard, but so worth it. My 6 weeks of tandem feeding was so special, and the time it saved me as a single mum to have a baby on the breast. As she was so efficient she was done in 5 minutes, it was the right choice for me. I was told to give up so many times. But it wasn't their choice, it was mine. So Mummas make your own choices that work for you, your baby and your family. Silence the rest, with a cuppa and bikkie and seriously just BREATHE!!!! Oh forget the cuppa you wont have time for that, it will be sitting on the bench cold, or in microwave that has been re-heated 5 times!
I thought I would also add my breast feeding essentials:
- Each day write down 1,2,3,4,5 and make sure you drink 4- 5 liters of water a day. I would cross off the numbers as I go, as you are so busy. It made me keep track and it was so important for supply.
- EAT. I mean eat like its your last meal on earth every day. You are starving, at the start you are so hungry , that will settle, but while you are feeding you need to fuel your body with good nourishing food to make milk every day! I know I couldn't diet and do high impact exercise while feeding, as I would loose my supply. So that is one of my goals, after I stop feeding I will get my body back then. But for now this was my job, and it was a very important one!
- Lactation cookies and supplements. You will need these. I spent small a fortune with Franjos but it was worth every cent. Their bikkies really work and they also curb your sugar cravings. I choose them as they had good ingredients, and the company was amazing, I loved following there blogs online. I would eat them in the arvo when I was tired, and when ever I needed a boost. For me it was the time of my ovulation, period, run and down and stressed. I also loved the muesli, hands down the best! When I was little short on money I would use fenergreek and brewers yeast capsules, they also helped. But You need to take 6 day to make a difference.
- Pumps. I had a manual hand pump, I used when Daisy feed. I also had double electric pump. Spectra 2. Amazing, so worth every cent.
I hope one of these tips helps.
So to the breast feeding Mumma, who is struggling YOU'VE GOT THIS, if you really want it YOU'VE GOT THIS!