Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tandem Nursing Twins

Henry and Ian are over nine months now, and we're coming to the end of our nursing journey together. I nursed Jake for a year, and I'll do the same for them. I thought I would give the low-down on what it's really like to nurse twins because there is definitely a learning curve involved.

When we found out at my eight week sonogram that we were expecting identical twins one of the first thoughts that ran through my mind was, "how will I nurse them?" Jake had horrible Milk/soy protein intolerance (MSPI) and I knew that these babies could too. I cut all milk and soy from my diet when he was about 5 months old and he became a new baby overnight. It was hard, but the only formula that Jake could handle was Elecare, and wow is that stuff expensive! It kills me to pay for something I can make for free too. Fortunately, the twins have been fine with milk and soy.

First and foremost, one of the best things we have done with both births is to find a pediatrician that has Lactation Consultants on staff. This makes it one stop shopping, so to speak, when you have a million doctors appointments in those early weeks. Plus, it makes it easy-peasy for insurance billing.

Our twins were born at 32 weeks and 4 days. I was lucky to have received steroid shots to help with their lungs and so their NICU time was minimal. Henry was in the NICU for two weeks and Ian was in a couple days more. Both boys had tube feeds through their noses at first. I had quite a bit of blood loss after their delivery, which impeded my milk production.

I will say, nursing twins was easier for me than it would have been for a first-time mom. I already knew how to nurse a baby, so the challenge for me was nursing babies in the NICU and tandem nursing.

Me and Ian in the NICU. 

In the NICU I started by nursing each baby separately. Because of my experience nursing Jake, I was able to help both babies learn to latch. I was very fortunate that they didn't have too much trouble learning the suck-swallow-breathe combination that many preemie babies struggle with. I let each of them nurse as long as they could. We supplemented heavily in the NICU because my milk production was pretty much nothing. Severe blood loss doesn't help in that department.

When at home, I pumped every two hours during the day and once from 10pm until 7am. I tried pumping twice overnight but made the call that healing my own body through sleep was in the best interest of my overall, long-term milk production.

Once both boys were home I worked closely with my pediatrician and LC to help make the transition to only breastfeeding. We slowly stopped supplementing and one day I just decided that it would save me oodles of time if I would learn to tandem nurse. So what did I use to help me with the physical act of tandem nursing? I'm glad you asked. Here is my rundown of helpful tandem nursing items.

In general, there are two different spots in my house that I tandem feed. First is my couch. This is where I use the My Brest Friend Twins Plus Feeding Pillow . I put one boy on either side of me on the couch, put on the pillow and then put the boys on one at a time. I latched my lazier nurser and then latched the stronger nurser. Now they're so big they can do it themselves, but in the beginning they required lots of help.

I used my Boppy Pillow when nursing in the glider in the nursery. I stuck with the same glider I used with our first son, so its a glider of normal width. The biggest challenge with this is how to get both boys in the seat with me. I solved this by putting each boy in a Fisher Price Rock 'n Play right in front of the glider. I put the Boppy over my lap and then transfer them on top to nurse.

The final piece of the puzzle for nursing twins is some sort of stretchy bracelet to keep track of which side the babies last nursed on. Especially in the beginning, it is important to change sides for the twins each time (or pretty close to each time) you nurse. There are two reasons for this: one, so that they don't get a flat spot on the side they're nursing on all of the time, and so that they will continue to nurse on either side.

Nursing twins has been so rewarding for me. It's nice to have this special time with the twins and I'm very thankful that it has worked out so well for us.

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