As National breastfeeding week wraps up for another year it has made me reflect on my time breastfeeding the boys and it has reminded me that while I am totally for breastfeeding, sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you hope and that can be hard for Mums.
Whether you try and it’s great, it doesn’t work out or it’s simply just not for you it should be ok for each mum to make their choice. Just like it should be ok for me to say I didn’t like it….and before the pro lovers hate on me…here’s my story:
I always thought breastfeeding would be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. I mean growing your child from your own milk – amazing! Yet it also made me feel a little uncomfortable but I thought it’d just come with the time.
Despite the overwhelming idea of feeding two at once, I was determined to give it a shot and that I did, but ultimately breastfeeding turned out to be more traumatic than amazing and for a few good reasons.
Firstly, no one can prepare you for trying to breastfeed 2 babies, you don’t even have. While the boys were in NICU, day after day and night after night I tried so hard to express anything that would come out of me. It was painful, lonely and relatively unsuccessful. I remember waking to my alarm night after night alone in my hospital bed trying to squeeze a teaspoon of colostrum into a syringe. It was emotional and I thought I’d never get there.
Finally once the boys were back in special care we went into overdrive trying to get them to latch and feed! A combination of expressing and solo feeding and slowly we got on to it, however I was told the best way to feed twins was tandem and that’s where I had to be to leave hospital.
It took a few more days but we finally got there. The first few weeks at home were relatively successful although it was never something you could do discreetly in the corner of a room so I always felt exposed.
People often ask me how I did it. We simply, the right cushions, full chest exposed, one and then the other…then sit and wait! If we had friends to visit I’d retreat to my room to feed as having both your breasts exposed at once is a very uncomfortable feeling! I remember dear friends walking in saying they didn’t mind but I did, i somehow felt exposed and vulnerable!
As my twin breastfeeding journey continued into the first month it quickly became exhausting and laborious. I never felt like I had down time I was either feeding or expressing and my nipples never had a rest. The swelling became intense, the pain unbearable and it soon became apparent that neither myself or the boys were doing well from it…but I persevered.
Halfway through the second month I sought out help. The boys were suffering from severe colic and silent reflux and I was finding myself beyond exhausted with feeding. I would get overwhelming waves of nausea when feeding, dizzy spells and felt weak and lethargic! I didn’t get hungry I felt too sick to eat but I was told it was just me and to keep going and ride through.
When the boys hit 3 months it became apparent that not only were they not getting enough, their drinking speeds were different and because I was changing sides and twins each feed, my breasts weren’t emptying properly and things were a skew! I called a breastfeeding help line and she said she didn’t think that’d happen, I felt foolish but inside I knew!
Only days later, sobbing in tears on the shower floor, Chris picked me up and said it’s time to end it and move to formula. The boys were 3 months and we’d given it our best!
It took me almost another 2 months of pain, nausea and tears to fully wean the twins. I couldn’t express so I had to use them, reducing a feed a week until I could cope with the pain of going ‘cold turkey’.
It still sends shivers down my spine thinking of it and I can honestly say I’m grateful we have formula and if I had another I couldn’t even think of feeding but that’s just me.
I’m totally pro breastfeeding but I’m also going to say for all the mums out there who tried and it didn’t work or didn’t want to try that’s ok too! We are way too harsh on mums and the breastfeeding debate.
Somewhere out there, there’s a mum like me, struggling to push through because you think it’s right but it’s destroying you and your time with your Bub…so don’t…only do it if it’s 100% right for you!