When I first gave birth to my twins prematurely the lactation consultant came into my room about .2 seconds after I left recovery from the c-section. She asked me if I wanted to breastfeed. I told her that I did, but was it even possible?
Turns out, even having a c-section, even having premature babies, my body still knew to produce milk and I needed to feed my babies. As it turns out, breast milk was the only thing besides IV fluids that they would give my babies since they were so premature so it became my mission to be a successful breastfeeder.
I am here to tell you first and foremost, that just because you are having more than 1 baby does not mean that breastfeeding is out of the question. It's harder, it will take some patience, determination, and good old fashioned hard work, but it's doable. If that is what you want, don't let the fact that you're having multiples scare you off. There were a few things that worked for me. Again, I'm no expert, but I have learned a lot in breastfeeding 3 children.
Patience is a virtue
I have no patience. I am the first to admit it. I was hooked up to a machine to start pumping an hour or so after my twins were born prematurely and I had no milk. I didn't take the baby classes since my twins were born so early and while I knew milk didn't come in right away, surely it should come quickly or else all hope would be lost! It took 3 days for my milk to come in. I was positive all 3 days that breastfeeding wouldn't work because I wasn't getting any milk. I was a failure. After 3 days though, my milk came in, and I never looked back. The stress of not getting any milk probably made the milk more delayed than it would have been. So sit back, relax, realize that whether you're nursing or pumping in the beginning, it takes time to adjust, for your baby to adjust, for your body to adjust, just sit back and let nature take its course.
Surround yourself with support
I had to exclusively pump for over 3 months before my twins were old enough to latch well. That was 3 months of pumping around the clock. It took some dedication, but if it wasn't for the NICU nurses and hospital lactation consultants as well as my supportive family and friends, I don't think I would have lasted pumping that long.
No matter how you get the milk to your baby, you're breastfeeding and don't let anyone discourage you.
While eventually, I did end up nursing my daughter, my son never took to it. He, to this day, has delayed oral motor development. He just couldn't muster up the strength to nurse and a bottle was his only option. I continued to pump the entire year after my twins were born all day long. Ok, maybe not all day long, but many hours of my days were spent attached to a breast pump. It was challenging. I didn't get the emotional attachment a lot of moms get breastfeeding. I felt, in some ways, like I wasn't breastfeeding at all. What was most important though was that my son was receiving breastmilk, even if he couldn't nurse. I wanted him to receive breastmilk and he did.
Supplementing is not the enemy
There was a time when the twins the twins were about 6 months that they were eating more than I was pumping. I tried to nurse and pump more to get my supply up, but now that they were sleeping through the night, I just wasn't keeping up with the demand. After all of this hard work was this the end? I had worked so hard to avoid formula and now is that my only option? I finally caved and supplemented a bottle or two for formula to give the twins more. They needed the nutrition, still weren't eating solids well, and I couldn't deny them. It made me a little sad, I'm not going to lie, but I knew I was doing everything I could and most of their food was still breastmilk so I just had to accept some formula.
No matter what you, or anyone else decides to do, you're a good mom, they're a good mom, and everyone i doing the best that they can.
You're not a bad person because you decide not to breastfeed. It is hard work breastfeeding multiples. I totally get that. Everyone needs to make the best decision for them and their family. What we, as fellow moms can do, is support each other through this crazy world of mothering.
So I encourage you, if you're interested in breastfeeding, to find a group in your area for support. Contact a lactation consultant. Find a nearby Le Leche League. There are many groups who can help you get the information you need and support you need to be successful, even with multiples.
About the Author: Emily Pepka is a proud Air Force wife and mom of twins. Her boy/girl twins were born in June 2011 at only 27 weeks. Her blog, Up To Your Toes (http://www.uptoyourtoes.com) documents her family's life through the NICU and beyond. In January 2013, Emily and her husband welcomed a full term healthy singleton baby boy. The Pepka's are currently stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base, volunteer with the March of Dimes Family Teams Committee and are members of the Beach Cities Parents of Multiples Association (www.twinsclub.org).