Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Breastfeeding Rules Broken

So I broke the rules with breastfeeding.  Well first the hospital broke the rules, we tried to get back on track, then I broke the rules.

As I mentioned in the birth story, the twins had to go to the Special Care Nursery for 48 hours after they were born. Not only did I not get to breastfeed them during that time, but they were bottle-fed formula.  Once I was able to breastfeed in the hospital, I asked for a lactation consultant or a nurse to help me with every feeding.  One of the LCs asked me why they were given a bottle and not cup fed in the SCN to which I had no answer for.  Fortunately for me they still did breastfeed and once they made it to the regular nursery, the nurses brought them to my room every three hours for feedings.  They would nurse a little and then had to have a formula supplement in order to put on weight. A few of the nurses had me tandem feeding them and were very excited when it worked but the reality was I was just laying there and the nurses were doing all the work.  Once I was on my own, I could only focus on one baby at a time.

Since we've been home, I tried to nurse every three hours but still had to supplement every feeding per the pediatrician.  I was never sure how much they were getting and they always fell asleep at the breast.  I tried the tricks they showed me in the hospital to wake them up but once they were woke back up, they had trouble latching back on.

The first rule I broke was eliminating nursing at night.  Once I moved to my bedroom from the family room and put the twins in their bassinets, it was too hard to get situated on my bed and nurse them without them getting frustrated fast.  I know I should have tried harder but to keep my sanity, I switched to straight formula at night and try to nurse + formula supplement during the day.  This cuts down the time it takes to feed them and makes for less angry babies at night.  And, admittedly, I get more sleep at night too.

The twins are quite popular and we get a lot of visitors.  Which I love but there are only a few I will nurse in front of.  So I slowed down during the day too.  Broken rule #2 (which is technically the same rule as #1 just more broken.)

I rented a hospital grade pump but haven't pumped as much as I should have.  And it wasn't until I started pumping that I realized how little I was producing.  Forty-five minutes on one breast with suction as high as it can go yields a little more than one ounce.  I'm still pumping and storing at least twice a day and nurse during the day when I can and I'm going to try to pump more to see if the milk production improves.  My OB, who is also a mother to twins told me basically the goal is to get them fed be it breast or bottle.

Broken rule #3 happened when I introduced the forbidden binky -or in my case, the Soothie.  I was told during my breastfeeding class no pacifiers for at least four weeks and it would be better to never introduce them.  The pediatrician said wait at least two weeks.  I made it twelve days.  The twins are not huge fans of the binky but it does soothe them occasionally.

I told myself I would try to breastfeed and if it didn't work out, that would be okay.  The truth is I do feel a little bit guilty that I haven't worked harder at it.  Mel wrote a great post yesterday that, along with the comments, has helped ease my guilt.  I'll keep at it the best I can though.  For now.


  1. I admire everything you are doing... You have to learn the guidelines (not rules) and create your own rules around the guidelines... what works best for you and the boys. Your hands are amazingly FULL at this time so you are doing what any mom would do... and put the needs of your boys first... and getting them nourished is most important, moreso than how exactly they are nourished. I'm cheering for you!!!

  2. Oh, how I wish I could take away all your guilty feelings! You are doing SO AMAZING taking care of all their needs (2 babies at once! it boggles the mind!!!) and not going insane in the process (a sane mommy is a good mommy).

  3. The only real rule is this: Do what works for you and your boys!

    In those first few weeks my nursing and nap schedule also got all messed up by the parade of loving visitors and if I could go back and change one thing it would be to just say no or at least limit the visits.

    Don't fret too much about the pumping output because it's not a true reflection of how much the babies are getting while at the breast. They are way more effecient than any pump. You're doing great!

  4. I'm just a lurker, but I have been following your story a little bit lately. I am a SMC of a 3 month old, and while I can't imagine having twins, I thought I'd let you know that I broke some of the same rules with my son early on, too. I had to supplement with formula at the beginning, and because he was a little early, my milk wasn't coming in like it was supposed to. Then we had to go back and stay in the hospital for jaundice. That's when the soothie started to play a role in our life. And I would pump and maybe get an ounce out at first. And I gave him his first bottle at about 3 or 4 weeks. But now, about 2 1/2 months later, it doesn't seem to matter that I broke those rules, he's doing fine exclusively breastfeeding now. However, when I go back to work next week, he may get some formula in his breastmilk at daycare if I just can't pump enough. This is a really long comment to say that I think any parent of twins is amazing, especially a single mom, and it really is about survival a lot of the time. It sounds like you're doing a great job, and maybe the rules don't matter as much as everyone says they do after all!

  5. I'm a SMC of twins too--my girls are 3 months old. I supplement my breastmilk with formula all the time--in other words, whenever necessary. I had a hard time nursing for the first few weeks, and then it got better. I told myself that I'd try it, and somehow eventually it worked, but I'd have switched to all formula if I had to. Good luck!! --Jen

  6. You're doing great, mama! Supplementer here, too. My girl has been getting formula along with breast milk almost from the very beginning. Yet here we are, at almost 10 months, and she's still nursing. She gets formula a daycare and nurses at home (with some supplementing). Middle ground is working well for us. Smooches to your cutie pies!

  7. you should feel zero guilt. your "rulebreaking" sounds just like mine and I have attained zero guilt. The LCs can be purists and that's dangerous because there is no one right way or one protocol. Think of your rulebreaking as modifications and think of yourself as smarter than anyone else when it comes to feeding your babies and taking care of yourself (sleeping is important for BM production). Because both of those are true. My hospital introduced a soothie to Dom on day 1 in the nicu. While I was shocked that they had done this without asking me I was ok with it. He still uses it occasionally and I use formula to supplement and we've had no nipple confusion issues. So go on with your bad self. You're doing amazing.

  8. You're doing great. The goal here is happy healthy babies and momma. However you do that is ok. Hang in there and I hope things get a bit easier.

  9. You broke the rules becaue you had to survive. It's not easy being a new mother, even more not easy doing it alone, and alone with twins.. wow, I take my hat off.
    I can tell you how I on the other side tried to cling as much as possible to the rules but little did it help. She now is fed mainly by formula (I would love to get to your numbers!) with the breast more as a pacifier (plus I pump a meal worth a day).
    And then again there are so many stories of women who didn't have a great start with breastfeeding, but that managed to breastfeed solely.
    Whatever you do, I think the most important thing is that you do what's best for you and the twins!


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