Nursing Twins: The Good, the Bad & the Sloppy
Before my babies were born, I took breastfeeding classes, read books and watched YouTube videos about nursing twins. I googled. A lot. None of it mattered. As a new mom, you learn very quickly what works for you (and your babies) and what doesn't. Now that I'm on the other side of breastfeeding, there's a lot that I miss about it and plenty more that I DON'T. Of course you'll have loads of people tell you breast is best, but your sanity as a mother is more important. You can't pour from an empty boob - er, cup.
The pressure to breastfeed your babies in our society is insane and I fed into it. It wasn't until I found a balance that worked for us that we were all much, much happier. I was able to breastfeed both my twins for six months. I continued until eight months with my son. However, I supplemented with at least a bottle of formula a day since day one. It wasn't until I slowed down on nursing and pumping, that I finally felt like myself again. With that said, there are times that I miss nursing my little babies. Here's my take on nursing twins; the good, the bad and the sloppy.
When you have newborn twins, you're beyond exhausted. Aside from the obvious nutritional benefits of breastfeeding, the hidden gem is that when you and your babies finally master breastfeeding, it involves minimal work. You don't need to go downstairs to make bottles in the middle of the night. You don't need to worry about packing formula if you're going on an outing. I really miss the days when I could wake up bleary eyed in the morning and nurse my babies in bed.
Another bonus of nursing twins is you are able to easily identify if there are problems in the beginning because you'll be able to compare your babies. My daughter was a natural eater and latched easily. It became very obvious to me that something wasn't quite right with my son's latch. It just wasn't working. Our pediatrician quickly found that my son was tongue-tied and with a quick (but traumatizing for mom) procedure, he was able to nurse efficiently. Without having my daughter to compare him to, I'm not sure if I would have been able to identify there was any issue.
If I had a dollar for every time some random stranger looked at my twins and commented "two for one", I'd have enough money to pay for all of these diapers. Twins aren't cheap. I don't know why people think you're saving money by having two at once. Although they can share some toys, we have to buy double of almost everything. Double the food, double the diapers, double the preschool. It's intense. Another huge benefit of breastfeeding is you're able to save some money on formula. When you are ready to start weaning, cost is a huge consideration.
In order to keep what's left of your sanity, you'll schedule your twin babies. Everyone will sleep and eat at the same time. The problem with nursing two infants at the same time is that you'll need to burp one while the other is still eating which involves ninja-like maneuvers. There is nothing intimate or bonding about it. It felt robotic to me; like I was just going through the motions.
Long before there were any babies in my home, I pictured myself as a mother nursing my one, tiny, beautiful baby. You know the image: It's the one in every Pampers commercial. That baby would be the center of my world, my best friend, my everything. That doesn't happen with twins. It's hard to bond with one baby while you're getting spit up on by the other.
In order to keep your supply up, you'll be instructed to pump in between feedings in the beginning. Apparently there have been a lot of improvements in pumps in the last couple of years, but my pump made me feel like a cow. It was dehumanizing and stressful. I remember pumping and holding my breath waiting for someone to start crying. You can't really hold two babies with a breast pump attached to you. If you're like me, you'll quickly realize that tandem nursing is rough. For months, I pumped while my babies napped in order to feed them bottles of breastmilk. It was logistically easier for me to prop up bottles in their seats and burp them one at a time.
One of my other issues with tandem nursing twins is that you essentially need to be nude from the waist up. All. The. Time. This does a real number on your social life because your life will revolve around feeding schedules. You watch with envy when you see singleton moms nurse in public with their discrete nursing covers. I'm all for normalizing breastfeeding, but I was just never comfortable tandem nursing my twins in public. On the occasions that I did nurse in public, I would chose to nurse just one baby at a time. Inevitably, the other baby would get hungry, cry and you'd have to sit there watching your poor baby suffer. It never gets easier to watch your innocent little babies cry.
Babies are sloppy. Two babies are twice as sloppy. When nursing twins, you have twice the chance of getting milk or spit-up on you. I don't think I was able to make it through the day in one outfit until they were six months old. If someone spits up on you while tandem breastfeeding, the other is probably still nursing so you're trapped. You generally just have to sit there, covered in milk all the time. Even if you're prepared with burp cloths nearby, it's a struggle to clean yourself while holding a baby in each arm.
I'm so grateful that I was able to breastfeed my twins but I'm also so, so grateful to the inventors of formula who made our lives so much happier. The moral of the story is, if you're expecting twins, be prepared for the good, the bad and the sloppy when it comes to breastfeeding.