The Pressure to Breastfeed Twins
Author: Stef Daniel
I can vividly remember being awoken in my hospital room, just 8 hours after delivering twins via c-section, by two very nice lactation consultants who were urging me to breastfeed my twins. They propped me into a wooden rocking chair by the light of the moon and shoved my sore and swollen breasts into two little mouths as if I were not even part of the plan. They came back every few hours doing the same thing in order to get my twins suckling properly and my milk to come in. They sent me home with a breast pump that weighed more than my babies combined and instructed me to 'pump' every few hours to keep the milk coming strong. The trauma of the birth, the c-section, and feeling overwhelmed with a first time delivery, of twins at that, I had to admit that even though I wanted to, breastfeeding was not going to work for me. I endured it for 8 weeks before calling it quits, much to the dismay of family members. Yes, it is absolutely possible to breastfeed twins with ease. Thousands of people do it. However, if it becomes too difficult or seems to cause tremendous amounts of stress, no twin mom should feel ashamed of bailing on the idea. No matter what others think.
For the last generation of mothers, breastfeeding became a lost art replaced by amazing formulas without guilt or shame. Then suddenly, the breastfeeding fad was back in full force, and mothers who weren't comfortable with it, didn't have their milk come in plentiful enough, or just couldn't or didn't want to do it began to be shamed somehow by society. There is a lot of pressure to nurse, and while the benefits to mom and baby are awesome, when you have twins it is often not an easy feat. You should not feel bad about it.
The trick is to leave yourself open. So many people, including your doctors, will try to reinforce the plusses to nursing while you are pregnant. This is easy for them considering they are not the ones who are expected to do it. If you want to do it and are having twins, you must prepare yourself for the fact that 3 out of every 5 twins are born having to use preemie nipples. While their jaw strength can certainly develop, you will be on a battle against time. The point is your baby needs to be nourished properly, and most importantly, you should enjoy feeding them. One of the most crucial components to infant-mother bonding is feeding them in the first few months. If you are breastfeeding and feeling anxious or resentful then you are missing out on a beautiful experience between you and your baby. Just as the needs of your twins are important, your needs are equally as important! The bottom line is that whether to breastfeed your twins or not is your decision. How much, how long, and whether you do it is something you have to decide for yourself.
The only downfall to nursing twins exclusively is that no one else will be able to handle the feeding. You will be tied down to your twins for 10-12 weeks, and even scooting out to grab a haircut can be difficult. This makes pumping and bottle feeding a really good option because it will give your twins (and you) the best of both worlds. However, pumping enough milk for twins is not always as easy as you may think. So, some mothers use a combination of breast milk and formula.
While the ultimate decision is up to you, you will do yourself a big favor by remaining open in your choice. While people may ask or prod, this is a personal decision and one that does not have to be justified or discussed openly. Feel good about whatever you decide to do, and make sure that you are not being heralded into something you aren't comfortable with because of societal expectations. While in many cases, breastfeeding is best; if it is not a good experience for mom ~ then you and the babes will be better off exploring other options.