Just letting you know, this isn’t going to be a “how to feed your multiples babies” post. I’m just sharing my experience on how I handled feeding the boys for the first few weeks when it was strictly just breast milk and formula (no solids yet). Not gonna lie, this was one area in which I wished I did ANY research. I thought “how bad could it be?” hahahaha oh dear. I never did think that everything the boys needed to go through to reach every milestone was dependent on their feeds. Yup, I had no clue.
Once the boys were born, the nurses tried to have me tandem feed the boys, meaning feeding them both at the same time. Nothing came out. I wasn’t prepared for the no milk situation, and also the lack of latching. So I gave the nurses the go signal to give them formula because the boys were screaming with hunger. It’s strange. I found myself immediately pressured and given so many different opinions coming from different directions: nurses, doctors, breastfeeding lactation consultants, family, friends, etc. I know that ultimately it was my decision to decide how to feed my babies, but I couldn’t help but give into the “pressure.” I’ve found most of the pressure coming from lactation consultants. Initially, I felt defeated. I’ve been told that “breast is always best”. In ways, I’m sure that it’s true. So I’ve dealt with the pressure. My milk didn’t come in until probably the 5th day, and even still, the milk wasn’t enough to feed the boys.
The first 6-8 weeks of their lives were quite the rollercoaster, since every damn thing I needed to do or get done had to be centered around their feeding schedule. Every 3-4 hours, the boys would wake up or I would have to wake them up because they were preemies and needed to get fattened…
- Regardless if they woke up at the same time, first thing I would do is check/change their diapers for any soiling.
- Breastfeed for about 5 – 15 mins
- Top them up with formula. The first 9 weeks of their lives, we had them on Similac Advance Ready to Feed. (shit so expensive!!!). Then changed to Costco’s Kirkland Signature Infant Formula – Sensitive. (Still expensive but much cheaper than Similac)
- Move on to burp them
- Change diapers if needed
- Put them down in a swaddle
- Rock, swing, cuddle…wait for them to sleep
- Once asleep, PUMP. PUMP. and more PUMP. This was killer, but I pushed through
- Next thing you know, 30 mins to an hour later, they would wake up again…and continue the process
Are we exhausted just reading that? Now imagine whenever the boys were staggered with their awake times, that hour I would have alone before the process continued would not exist. I couldn’t get anything done. I have no idea how I even functioned. I was a zombie. I don’t even know how single mothers do it! (Bless you ladies!) And even having help 50% of the time, everything I listed was a fucking process. Please excuse my language.
Now imagine me doing all the above while going through the non baby-related changes after they were born. I really REALLY do not know how I survived that.
I had appointments with the breastfeeding clinic once or twice a week for about 2 months. Although the lactation consultants meant well, they were no help in alleviating the pressure for me to breastfeed. I felt their suggestions/comments were honestly making me feel like shit. I would hear things along the lines of:
- “He’s not latching because he’s used to the bottle and the flow…”
- “He’s frustrated because if you move from bottle to breast, or vice versa, he’d get tired and won’t eat”
- “He’s fussy because he’s gassy because of the fast flow from the bottle…because you need to hold him like this, and that…”
- “If you spend more time pumping, the stimulation of the pumping will help you produce more milk and meet their needs so they’re satisfied…”
- “You may want to spend more skin-to-skin time so the hormones will help you produce more milk” or some shit like that…and so forth
I gave into the pressure, mostly because if these boys were going to be my only children, I wanted to “do right” the first time. Yes I know that sounds pretty lame, but at the time, I knew my mind wasn’t in focus. I was full with mommy brain hormones. It wasn’t until I met with my family doctor 6 weeks later for my post delivery checkup, that she knocked some sense into me. She told me “You know what Joan, you are doing a great job, but I don’t know why the lactation consultants are having you pump on top of breastfeeding. That’s too much work. You need to watch out for your sanity. I can see how tired you and hubby are and want to let you know that there is nothing wrong in giving your child formula. You are not any less of a mother if you stop breastfeeding, because you are still providing to your children’s needs, whether it be your milk or formula. You have two babies and they sense your frustration, and I know they want mama to be happy.”
I don’t know why it took that one doctor’s visit to change perspective. I cried with joy in the car after she told me that. I felt as if the breastfeeding pressure cloud lifted and my senses hit me. I know that sounds super emo dramatic.
I changed up the routine a bit. With a bit of patience, the boys ended up latching well after a few weeks. I still wanted for the boys to get at least some breast milk, so I did nurse the boys as much as I wanted, but in my own terms:
- Breastfeed at night, because we were bed sharing with the boys and it was easier for me to feed them as I would just slide them over to me and fall asleep while they nursed. Now I know I will get a whole lotta crap from people not agreeing with bed-sharing/co-sleeping, but I did get waaaay better sleep by doing this. I felt a tad more amazing after getting better sleep.
- Breastfeed when I felt like it during the day. If not, just strictly formula feed
- Pump whenever I felt I needed to “release”
- Bring the pump and equipment with me whenever I would be away from the boys for a certain length of time
It was so much easier. At about 7 months, I kept the breastfeeding to only at night. I stopped pumping after 10 months. Then any breastfeeding stopped at 13 months. Formula feeding stopped at 15 months. I know I did not exclusively breastfeed, but I think I did pretty great…
P.S. at this point, aren’t you tired of hearing the word “breast”?
Til Next Post!