A Breastfeeding Journey

Elsabe's Breastfeeding Journey

My Breastfeeding Journey started in 2007 when my son was born. Since my mother breastfed my sister and myself, I decided I'll do the same for my child. But back then I didn't know half of what I know now about breastfeeding and just how amazing breastmilk actually is.

That first latch was to be honest a weird feeling. I'm a very self-conscious person and the thought of a little person sucking on my breast at first freaked me out.

But I knew it was the healthiest choice for my son and that was enough to keep me going. As time went on, I got the hang of it and soon it turned into a very special experience.

I allowed my son to self-wean, which was somewhere between 16 and 17 months. I don't know exactly because I was too sad to make a mental note of the last time he fed. It just went from feeding once a day, to once every other day, to now and then and somewhere my breastfeeding journey with him ended.

My goal was actually to breastfeed until two years (the recommended age according to most experts), but I was happy that my son decided to stop on his own and that it wasn't my choice. I knew I gave him an excellent start to life!

Then in 2010 we decided to try for a second child, and of course got the surprise of our lives when the first ultrasound showed not just one, but two babies....

Did this influence my decision of breastfeeding... you bet it did!! I became much more determined to make my breastfeeding journey the second time around a success, especially since I now knew I was carrying twins.

You know, that thing everybody tells you is impossible to do?! This was it. The first words I heard was that I won't be able to have a natural birth and I won't be able to exclusively breastfeed two babies for long.

Thank goodness I knew someone personally who had breastfed twins successfully - for 18 months none the less. She was my mom's best friend and today she is my biggest inspiration and source of encouragement. Her twins are two boys my age and they are her 3rd and 4th children. I kept thinking that if she was able to breastfeed four kids for 18 months each, including twins, I can too.

And I did.

Of course it wasn't as easy as it was with just my son, but I did it.

My bigger Twincess breastfed like a pro from the start, but my smaller Twincess didn't. They took her away to tube feed via a nasogastric tube for the first night after struggling to get her latched.

At that stage I was too overwhelmed after the birth and seeing those two tiny babies (born at 35 weeks and 1 day) that I didn't even resist them doing it. I spent the first night bonding with my bigger Twincess. 

The next day though I realized that if I wanted to make a success of it, I needed to get my other baby back and try harder. So I asked every single person who entered my room to bring my baby so I can try again and eventually they did.

A lactation consultant came to see me and after hearing that I breastfed my son for so long, she spent all day helping me to get my Twincess latched.

It was gruelling. I was supposed to get up and walk around after the cesarean, but my focus that day was more on breastfeeding than on my own recovery. So I literally sat on that bed the entire day, feeding my bigger Twincess, trying to get my smaller Twincess latched, eating and drinking myself, changing nappies and feeding again. I only got up for toilet breaks.

Finally towards the end of that day and about 24 hours after the birth, my smaller Twincess latched and I gave a big sigh of relief! It wasn't as strong as I knew it should've been, but I didn't tell that to anyone else. I knew in my heart that we overcame the hurdle and that with time it will get better and easier. I just needed some undisturbed time with my new babies.

At around 6 weeks we noticed that she didn't gain much weight and our pediatrician recommended supplementing my breastmilk. Having learned all I have since having my son, I decided not to do that and instead got the help of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who is also a midwife. She taught me a few tricks and techniques to help my Twincess get in more hind milk. We also took both of them to a chiropractor and I spent more time skin to skin with her.

Guess what? It worked!

She gained weight without ever having a formula supplement.

During my breastfeeding journey with my Twincesses I also battled Raynaud's in my nipples. Winters were extremely painful and I did consider giving up a few times after crying through every feed. (Remember with two babies your breasts never get a break for a few hours.) But I'm glad I didn't, because it's only made me stronger and motivated me to help and encourage other moms.

From about two and half years old, we slowly transitioned into weaning (nursing only 2-3 times a week, then once a week, then on occasion...). My smallest Twincess only asked for boobie on rare occasions, my bigger Twincess was still a complete "boobaholic" and loved the closeness!

As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week August 1st to 7th 2013, my Twincesses turn three years old on the 3rd. Somewhere my breastfeeding journey ended, without me even realizing it. *sniff*

I am both sad and happy this week, because I've far exceeded my goals for breastfeeding twins. But I'll miss those special moments of just sitting down and relaxing while staring into their faces, watching them interact with each other and just being amazed at how wonderful breastfeeding is on a physical and emotional level.

It's one of my greatest, if not the greatest, accomplishments in my life. I've proven all those disbelieving people, and sad to say doctors and nurses, wrong.

It is possible to exclusively breastfeed two babies at once, without supplementing. 

Yes it is hard work, it takes tons of effort and the challenges are quite different compared to just feeding one child. But the rewards and benefits far outweigh all that.

And to be honest, in my mind I still believe it was much less work than preparing bottles (x2), washing and sterilizing (x2), getting the temperature right (x2) all while having crying hungry babies (yes, x2)....

But that's just the way I see it! (",)

Other pages on breastfeeding problems in relation to this page

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