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Friday, August 18, 2017

Nursing Twins through Challenges | Brittany's Journey

Last week, I shared simple ways to increase your chances of being successful at breastfeeding however even then there are still roadblocks that may come up in your breastfeeding journey. Today, I asked Brittany to share her breastfeeding journey with her twin daughters and she knows all about those roadblocks but she got the proper help and support she needed and persevered. Read more below to hear the challenges she faced and how she overcame them.

We were sitting in Barnes and Noble drinking our coffees from the Starbucks inside, his regular and mine decaf because I was 30 weeks pregnant, reading books we picked out to skim over while we drank them. This was a common date for Erik and me. Inexpensive, quiet. He was reading something about an athlete and I was reading The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins. “Oh my gosh, Erik! Did you know that colostrum coats the baby’s intestines so they’re less likely to develop common illnesses most babies face? RSV, ear infections, etc?!” I was so mind blown. “That alone makes me want to breastfeed,” I said to him.

“Oh my gosh, it’s really yellow!” I exclaimed to the lactation consultant as the first drops of colostrum squirted out of the flanges into the collection tubes. “Yep, and it’s the best thing for your babies. You’re doing a great thing for them,” she said as she showed me how to label their bottles I would bring to the hospital until the time we brought them home from the NICU. My first breastfeeding goal had been set: making sure Violet and Olivia never had formula while they were there. The next day my milk came in and my life quickly turned into a timeless, round-the-clock pump fest. Fourteen days after they were born, I finally received the “okay” from the NICU doctor that I could put them to breast and try to latch them on. Despite the discouraging nudges people gave like, “they might not latch on because of the nipple confusion” or “you will probably have to use a nipple shield” we quickly developed a successful breastfeeding relationship. Three days later, we brought them home, and my pump-fest evolved into a tandem nursing fest.

We successfully tandem nursed for seven months before running into a road-block with Violet. She had a lip and a tongue tie, and it went undiagnosed by their first pediatrician. Their second pediatrician is who suggested that as a probable issue, and from there we hired an IBCLC (find a local one hereto spend the afternoon with us and assess our nursing relationship. I started pumping again to ensure she still got plenty of breastmilk, often waking up in the middle of the night to get an extra session in. I did that until around a year, and then weaned myself off the pump. Violet occasionally would latch on, but she was completely self-weaned by fourteen months.

My breastfeeding relationship with my girls wasn’t something I ever really thought about during the early stages of my pregnancy. Honestly, before I got pregnant or even read that book, really, I kind of thought breastfeeding was weird. “Why does she have to do that at the table?” I would think when I waited on families who had breastfeeding moms. “Do that somewhere else, or at least cover up!” I would think as I took their food and drink orders. It wasn’t until I was denied the right to see my children hours after our surprise cesarean birth and had to pump because I did NOT want their first meal being formula that I understood what breastfeeding was, and it wasn’t until Violet and I ran into trouble that I realized how much of an emotional bond is formed between a mother and baby. It is love and it is sustaining life. Human, baby life.

Olivia and I are still nursing at two years. I succeeded my overall goal of making it to a year, and I’ve been somewhat okay with the idea of her weaning when she’s ready. Violet still latches on out of sheer humor to annoy her sister, but recently she wasn’t feeling well and she nursed herself to sleep for the first time in a year. If it wasn’t for Olivia continuing to nurse, I wouldn’t have been able to give Violet that comfort she needed. People who judge moms for breastfeeding, take a seat. God designed our bodies to produce the perfect food for our babies, and it’s up to you, me, and everybody else to normalize it. Breast IS best, not only anatomically but emotionally, too.

Thank you Brittany so much for sharing your breastfeeding experience with us. It is truly inspiring seeing a momma go through challenges and still reach her breastfeeding goal and blow it out of the water. Congratulations on two years of breastfeeding!! 

You can find Brittany's blog at Twenty Something Twin Mom.

If you are facing challenges in your breastfeeding journey, please contact a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (find a local one here) for information and support.

Stay tuned for next week as I dig deep and research common breastfeeding misconceptions.

More Breastfeeding Resources:
Breastfeeding Essentials
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