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breastfeeding dilemma

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
my twin boys will be 15 weeks old on sunday. i have been exclusively breastfeeding them and i am getting very exhausted being the only one to feed both of them. i can't go anywhere without them and my 3yo, which makes almost any kind of shopping an all day, exhausting venture. i certainly can't go anywhere by myself.

we flew over the holidays and i bought some bottles and pumped with my hand pump so that dh could try and feed one of the babies during take off and landing. well one of the twins really took to the bottle. he sucked down 4 oz with absolutely no problem (the other one just chews on the bottle, lol). i have to admit, i'm getting really tempted here...

i am the HUGEST advocate of breastfeeding. my 3yo is still nursing. i know nothing about formula, except how bad it is. but at the same time, i'm exhausted by breastfeeding the twins all the time. and dh would like to feed them some too.

so...give me advice. should i venture into the world of pumping? try to get an electric pump? i know nothing about pumping either. if i pump, how do i pump and not get an oversupply (with dd i had an oversupply, wore nursing pads until she was 18 months, etc. with the boys, i only worse nursing pads the first few weeks and i'm very happy that my supply is just right!). how do i fit pumping in with breastfeeding them and giving bottles? IOW, when do i pump, when do i breastfeed, when do i give a bottle?

should i supplement with formula? would that make me a terrible mom? what formula would be the best to start with? if only one baby takes the bottle well, would i just give formula to him or should i try to get the other one to take the bottle as well?

i am embarrassed to even be posting this. but i am overwhelmed with feeding them both.
post #2 of 31
mine are 15 months now. i've found the only way to get through b'feeding twins is to take one day at a time. i had to pump exclusively at the start (preemies) and it took a lot to get dd to the breast, so every single time i've felt like quitting (and there have been quite a few), i'm spurred on by the fact that i put a lot of effort and prayer into getting nursing going in the first place

that aside, i have four older children and nursing has taken a lot out of me and left me with not so much for everyone else....but i think bottle feeding would be worse in all honesty. it's having twins itself that is hard. not the nursing iyswim.

for health reasons, i would not choose any formula until your babies are taking solids and a lot stronger. it's different if you can't avoid it, of course, but washing, sterilising etc is no walk in the park and also takes a lot of time.

pumping is a pain and unless you stick to it it will upset your supply, but if you pumped once a day and stack up some milk in the freezer, that will free you up with some time to shop alone if that is where you find your sanity.

twins are just hard no matter how you feed them, and if you focus on shorter snippets of time/ activities that make you feel joyful, the queries about nursing will likely be significantly less
post #3 of 31
I agree, pumping would be harder. All that effort plus figuring out who, when, what amount, etc. - that is a pain.

At 15 weeks -- well that is just about the toughest time there is. Plus you were travelling, etc. I always found that when things seemed very hard - I was doing too much, and had to scale back. It was tough admitting this and sticking to it, but resting more, staying in, stopping cleaning/cooking - all helped.

I didn't really take all 3 kids out for more than a quick stop at the store until they were about 6 months old. I know you know this, but by 6 months, babycare in terms of breastfeeding is easier. They go longer stretches, can nurse quicker (my twins were on and off in 5 minutes, they never got those long feeds my older DD did).

For your own sanity, try to get out 2-3x a week for an hour or 2 alone or with your older DD. I used to nurse the babes while my DH got my older DD ready, then we would fly out the door and go get a cocoa and color and read the newspaper - and we could get back home in an hour. Great for her and great for me. As they get older, you can make it longer, but even an hour out is heavenly.

How are your nights? Are you very tired or doing OK?? If you were going to give them a relief bottle that is when I would have DH do it - if you are exhausted and never able to sleep 4-5 hours in a row. For that you can try pumping as early in the morning as possible, pump off 1 side while you nurse 1 baby off the other side. That other baby will catch up during that morning. I also used to pump just before bed because it was the only time that more than a couple hours had elapsed between feedings. Between those 2 pumpings I got enough for a couple of feeds per week.

So scale back, pump when you can but don't kill yourself, and try to get more sleep. HTH.
post #4 of 31
I don't have twins, just stumbled upon your post, but I would think pumping would be a lot more work and a lot more exhausting for you. I'd be more likely to just pump for one feeding now & then so you can get out by yourself or rest. Otherwise I'd be inclined to stick to BF'ing only. However if you're really at your wit's end, I would try pumping for the 3yo for a bit... or even consider weaning the 3yo... I would do that before supplementing the newborns.

Also, this phase will pass... It may last a little longer since you have twins but with my son it really did get a lot better around 4-5 months.

ETA: I'm totally in favor of CLW but in this situation if it's between the older child & the newborns I feel the newborns are more in need of breastmilk & feeding at the breast.
post #5 of 31
I think pumping is harder, too. I feel you- exclusively nursing twins is very hard work. Insanely hard work! Maybe pump sometimes when you want to go out somewhere with your dh?
post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
thanks for all the understanding. if i hadn't pumped and seen how easily ds2 took the bottle, i wouldn't have even been contemplating this. but seeing him suck it down so easily made me wish i could do that more often.

i can pump, with my hand pump, between 2 and 4 ounces at a time. one morning when i woke up and hadn't fed one of the boys in several hours, i pumped 4 ounces from one side in under 10 minutes. so if i had an electric pump, i think i could pump a pretty significant amount in a reasonable time. i just don't want to end up with an oversupply.

i do need to try harder to get out by myself or with dd. i went out for about 2 hours the other night with her, but it was right before Christmas, traffic was terrible and i ended up being a nervous wreck leaving the babies for that long. but really, they were fine.

my MIL lives with us, so anytime i go out, she goes with me. we wear the babies and it's usually ok, it just takes a long time to get everyone ready and out of the house and then planning for nursing breaks. i never get to eat a meal without nursing a baby, etc.

ok, guess i just needed some encouragement. if i were practical, i guess bottle feeding would be MORE hassle and not less, it just seems easier right now.
post #7 of 31
It's very hard to maintain your supply when you're pumping. I EPed for DD1 for awhile, and it's a lot more work in the long run. The pump isn't as good as maintaining supply, and many pumping mamas see that the amount they can pump PLUMMETS after a month or two.

I've also nursed twins, so I know how grueling hard that can be, too, but I can say for sure that I think pumping would be harder. You have all the time spent pumping, plus the worries about having enough, and keeping your bottles and pump clean, PLUS all the work of actually caring for the babies. Hang in there. The first four months with twins are really really really really hard, no matter HOW you're feeding them, but it does get easier. It really does!

What about one bottle a day? You can schedule in the pumping session at a time that's good for you, and arrange for somebody else to feed them just that once a day, so that you have a break you can count on? Or even just pump daily, in a routine way, and store the milk for the times when you really feel like you want to get away.

We did that for a little while, at about this same age. I'd pump in the middle of the morning, when my supply seemed to be at its highest, and then right after supper at around 6, I'd go out with DD1, who was 2 1/2 at the time, and play for awhile, or take a walk, or whatever, and DH would give the milk I'd pumped to the twins. DD2 took a bottle, and he used to freeze the milk into slush and give that to DS on a spoon, or use a medicine dropper to feed him. (He was an ardent bottle-refuser.) It made all the difference in the world for me, for the few weeks that we did it. You really do have to deliberately make time for yourself, sometimes, when you're feeling frazzled, and make time for your older child, and it's no big deal if you want to pump and put a bunch in the freezer for those times when you need to get away. That doesn't mean you have to stop breastfeeding.

Formula opens up a whole 'nother set of issues-- what if baby develops allergies and sensitivities? What if baby has digestive upsets from the formula? The cans are often made with BPA, and the formula itself is full of all kinds of ingredients most of us wouldn't eat ourselves. And it's awfully expensive. I think considering formula is a drastic step. Why not commit yourself to six months, and rethink the issue at that time?

Having infant twins and a toddler or preschooler is an enormous amount of work, no matter which way you slice it. I remember trying to take a simple trip to buy some milk, and it turning into an enormous venture, with lots of crying and public nursing, and often having to call it quits before we'd even gotten what we came to the store to get. I used to feel so triumphant if I managed it at all. But give it time-- it's early days, yet. A lot of mamas with ONE baby find it hard to get out of the house. If you're getting out at ALL with twins and a 3 year old, you're doing GREAT.
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
thanks again. i don't think i was REALLY considering formula, just dreaming about an easier way to feed my babies. which i know it's not really easier.

i think maybe pumping so that i can occasionally go out by myself or sometimes with dd is a great idea.

i need to remember to take it one day at a time. i'm sure it doesn't help that i just got back from being gone for a WEEK and my MIL (who lives with us) isn't home so i don't have the help i usually have. i need to just let things get back into their routine and then reevaluate!
post #9 of 31
not a lot of time, but wanted to say:

- bottles are a PITA. i had to supplement for a while, until they were just 7mos, and the cleaning and prepping of formula took lots of time and was totally irritating. plus, it smells awful and just blech.

- you are in the thick of it. they will start to nurse less sooner than it seems.

- if you don't have to go out so much, don't. if you push yourself too much now, you will just get totally stressed out, moreso than you probably already are. taking them out gets so much easier at/around 6mos, when they enjoy looking at new stuff and don't need to nurse 24/7.

i think you will be glad you stuck with it in the long run - i know i am. the months of pumping and formula and bottles... all behind me. my guys are now 11mos, eating solids with gusto, take a cup with water no problem, and i'll never have to wash or make another bottle again! at this point, during the day, they nurse when they wake up, before 2 naps, and to bed. in-between sometimes too, but not when we're out and about... it gets better! stick with it!!
post #10 of 31
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by dividedsky View Post
i think you will be glad you stuck with it in the long run - i know i am. the months of pumping and formula and bottles... all behind me. my guys are now 11mos, eating solids with gusto, take a cup with water no problem, and i'll never have to wash or make another bottle again! at this point, during the day, they nurse when they wake up, before 2 naps, and to bed. in-between sometimes too, but not when we're out and about... it gets better! stick with it!!
see part of my problem is that i keep thinking that the boys are going to nurse like my dd did. there is NO WAY at 11 months that she would have been ok with nursing that little. she was well over 2 before she nursed that little. she was 18 months before i finally quit NIP. but already these guys are not near as intense as her and i need to remember that and quit imagining two babies as high needs as her.
post #11 of 31
As a mama who supplements with formula - be so very careful!

One of my twins "sucked down the bottle" very easily too. And that was the problem! He quickly came to prefer the bottle, and didn't care whether there was breastmilk or formula in it. The only time he wants to nurse is at night when he comfort nurses. My guys are 14 months old and they nurse 1 time per day and 1-2 times per night. Thats it.

My other two were nursing fiends at this age, 10-12 times in a day! It's not really nipple confusion, and neither one refuses to nurse, but for us it WILL lead to early weaning, I just feel it.
post #12 of 31
My girls are still nursing fanatics at age 2 but honestly I look forward to it at times b/c it gives me a chance to sit down and relax (at the computer and read this stuff (: ) Of course at times it is overwhelming and I would like to just keep. my. shirt. down. all. day.
post #13 of 31
Honestly, I think it's a slippery slope that you don't want to go down.

My ds1 bf'd for 18 months. I went back to work (FTOH) when he was 10 weeks old. He was in the NICU for 7 days after he was born, and in order for him to gain weight, I had them give ebm in a bottle. He did go back to the breast quite easily when we got home, and did fine with bottle/breast feeding depending on the situation.

BUT, pumping for him was hard. I'd try to pump after he ate, or any time that he wasn't around for me to nurse him. My supply wasn't very good once he started growing. I found that I pumped a finite amount, that didn't increase as his eating needs did, so we had to supplement with formula.

The twins, are a whole other story. I tried to bf my ds2, but he HATED it from the word go. My dd has a heart condition and wasn't able to nurse (got too tired before getting in enough calories) at first, so I still had to pump for her. It got really complicated. When do you pump? I would try to nurse one, then pump, but nursing gave me a huge letdown on both sides, so I'd leak all over trying to feed my ds2, wasting precious milk that could have been pumped for my dd. So, often, I'd end up pumping, then 10 minutes later my ds2 would want to nurse, and there would be nothing there. I finally quit, after having NO help, and being unable to see a LC. I had scheduled visits with one (at Childrens, where my dd was staying) on three different occasions, and they never showed up for the appointments. My ds2 would just scream, and eventually would not even take to the breast at all. He'd only eat from a bottle.

So....I gave up. I have been exclusively pumping for them since they were about 4 weeks old. It's awful. I am constantly pumping. I was up at 3am pumping, which is how i came across your post. My babies are now sleeping for really nice long intervals at night, but not me. I have to get up, come down here to pump, then try to go back to sleep (it usually takes about an hour to wind back down) and hope to catch some zzzzs before they wake. Sure, it's nice to know they'll take a bottle and I can be gone from them for long periods of time. But, with one of your little ones taking to the bottle so well, I'd be afraid that they'll start to prefer it, and you'll be stuck.

Maybe pumping once a day to build a little freezer stash - maybe. But, it's a PITA to wash all the pump parts, worry about bottles, etc.

oops, I hear one screaming now. gtg. good luck!
post #14 of 31
Hoo man, I have no advice for you, but just wanted to pop in and say that I think all mamas of multiples are AMAZING, and mamas who have multiples AND an older toddler are even MORE amazing. So yeah. Whatever works for you, that's what I'd do. That's all.
post #15 of 31
I had my twins first, so I did not have to juggle an older child. Couple of thoughts:

Bottles often encourage a baby to "suck down" more milk than you can pump in a day. We had to be very careful, picking bottles with slow flow nipples well after the point that they are recommended. I also had a rule for others feeding my twins that they not give in a single setting more milk than I was able to pump off one side. That meant 4-5 oz max per bottle feeding. They grew well, so we didn't have weight gain issues, but that arrangement could never work if you were worried about weight gain.

I pumped lots. In the morning before work. At break, at lunch, and after work. I nursed upon my return home, and on demand when I was home. It is exhausting, but I am SO grateful that full time nursing/pumping worked for us. We've got potential milk allergies in the family, and I don't like soy formula, so I was also very reluctant to consider formula.

You might be hitting the 3 month growth spurt, which means you might be in a rough spot that will improve soon. But I know what you mean about the difficulties in leaving the house with twin infants. Have you tried nursing in a sling? You could transfer the babies into the sling one at a time and still be able to nurse while moving. One in stroller, one in sling. It might help...

As for pumps, I never tried a manual pump. I liked my medela pump in style. It worked for the twins and my singleton pregnancy later.

Good luck, and congrats! Nursing twins is hard, but very rewarding.
post #16 of 31
Thread Starter 
maybe they are in a growth spurt...they have been nursing NON STOP for the past week! it's exhausting. i sit in a chair and just rotate babies, one right after the other.

i have big boobs and have never figured out how to nurse in a sling.

oh and our bottles are slow flow nipples....they're the ones called breastflow.
post #17 of 31
Originally Posted by livingfree View Post

i have big boobs and have never figured out how to nurse in a sling.

As do I. I didn't figure it out when I had my twins, but this time around it worked. I don't know if it was my experience or just different baby. Anyway, I use a new native pouch style sling and just lift my shirt. Sling covers most of what is exposed that way. Baby's face gets a bit squished, but it seems to all work out.
post #18 of 31
Oh, and do you have a twin nursing pillow? Then you might not have to "rotate" babies- just do both at the same time. I really liked the EZ2 Nurse twin pillow. It's huge. It's a lifesaver. I loved it so much that we packed it in the trunk for day trips away from home, and in the trunk for overnights trips to family for a long time.

If you don't want to invest in the pillow, you can accomplish the same thing by proping 3 bed pillows around your body, creating a tall U shape around you. Nurse both babies in football position, or one football and one cradle.
I don't think I used the "cradle" position very many times until I had my singleton.
post #19 of 31
Thread Starter 
i do have the twin nursing pillow and it was a lifesaver when the babies were smaller. i slept every night, sitting up, with it for about 6 weeks.

but i'm tired of it now. the boys seem too big for it and squish it too flat and i can never get comfortable with it. i'd rather just nurse them one at a time.
post #20 of 31
I hope some twin mums can help you figure out how to get comfortable and nurse both of them at once, at least some of the time.

I've done the pumping thing with a singleton (my 3rd) and I was so thankful when I finally got her fully on the breast, not washing pump stuff or having to pump was a real relief!

Even then, I hit a point, about 5mths I think where I was saying the same things as you, I can't do this any longer etc. I can't even make the next 4 weeks to get her to 6mths...

For me there was even an extra reason to stop breastfeeding, I have narcolepsy and the best medication for that is L5 in Hales, completely contraindicated, so stopping nursing wouldn't have just meant no nursing, but also being able to take a med that would help me.

But what I really needed was encouragement, take it one day at a time etc. and it's amazing what a difference two months has made, she's 7mths now and still exclusively breastfed, at the breast, no ebm in bottles, no solids (she is offered them, but she hasn't managed to swallow any, she enjoys the tastes though!).

I hope I'm judging it right that encouragement is what you need! You've got the hand pump, you respond well to it, that could get you a little bit of help, buy yourself sometime to catch your breath. Good Luck!
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