Bottles and Boobs: My experience with feeding twins

breast or bottle feeding twins

Author: Melissa Lourey 

This is part two of Melissa’s story. You can read all about her twins birth HERE.

While pregnant with twins, I would try and imagine what life would be like once they were born. I imagined having them with me in the hospital room, cuddling, feeding and sleeping just as I had two years before when I gave birth to my daughter Amelie. I bought nice new pyjamas thinking I would be lying around the house breastfeeding in those early weeks at home and using any spare energy I had to play with Amelie. The reality of having twins hasn’t quite matched the idealistic scenarios I had imagined and feeding them has been an interesting, and somewhat chaotic journey.

The birth of our twins

Bodhi and Jake were born via caesarean and Bodhi had his first feed while I was in recovery. Jake was in NICU, so I couldn’t feed him until much later that day.

Both babies latched on well and seemed to take a good feed. But having been born at 36 weeks and weighing just over 2 kilos each, breastfeeding was simply too exhausting for them. Also, not long after feeding Jake for the first time, I haemorrhaged. I lost a significant amount of blood and spent the night having contractions from the blood clotting medication I was given. I needed to rest as much as possible so the wonderful nurse from the special care nursery would come in every three hours and hand express the colostrum from each breast. One lot would go to Jake in NICU and be given to him via a feeding tube, the other to Bodhi in the nursery.

Establishing a routine for feeding twins

The following day, Jake joined Bodhi in the special care nursery.

For the next week we would follow a strict 3 hourly feeding schedule. I would breastfeed each baby for no more than 10 minutes then they would each have a bottle. We would put them back to bed then I would express milk for about 15 minutes for their next feed.

We continued this routine once we arrived home a week later; breast, bottle, express, rest, repeat. Initially, this all took about an hour and a half so there wasn’t much time for sleep, but my husband and I became so efficient at the routine after a while that we would be putting them back to bed after half an hour. I bought a bustier, designed for pumping, so I could have my hands free and there was many a time I would fall asleep whilst pumping!

bottle feeding twins

Boosting supply when feeding twins

Totally exhausted there were times when I simply wouldn’t have enough breastmilk to feed them both and would need to supplement with formula. I would get so stressed and upset when I wasn’t producing enough milk.

I worked on boosting my supply. To do this, I took fenugreek, ate lots of oats, drank milo and truckloads of water, but I wasn’t getting much rest (go figure). I got to a point where I surrendered to the fact that sometimes there just wasn’t enough. I was doing my best and took comfort in the fact that I gave them all the breastmilk I could, and they weren’t going hungry thanks to the formula top ups.

Bottles or breast?

In those early weeks there were times I wouldn’t breastfeed at all. I would just give the bottle of expressed milk as it saved so much time. Ultimately, I wanted to breastfeed and do away with the pumping all together. There were days where I would just breastfeed, but they would always be hungry again after an hour or two. So between the two of them I was basically feeding all day.

Exhausted, I would go back to bottles. I flipped back and forth between bottle feeding and breastfeeding several times. However once the twins were about two and a half months old, they were much more efficient at breastfeeding and I haven’t needed to pump since then.

single feeding twins

Tandem and solo feeding twins

During our stay in the special care nursery, I had expressed my desire to tandem feed. I fed them both using one of their feeding pillows and it was a success. Once home I found that I preferred to feed the twins solo. I was used to feeding this way, having fed my daughter for eighteen months. Also, I struggled with getting them to reattach to the breast if they came off during a tandem feed. Sometimes I will feed them at the same time when they’re both particularly fussy. I have never gotten around to buying a twin feeding pillow, I just sit in my rocking chair and hold one in each arm. But mostly I will feed them separately and enjoy the one on one time.

Feeding twins has definitely been a challenging experience. The boys are five months old now and still breastfeed through the night. I dream of the day when I will get a good, solid stretch of sleep, but I’m glad I have persevered with breastfeeding. I look at my now 2-year-old daughter and know that this time will go fast and it will soon be a beautiful, blurry memory.

This is part two of Melissa’s story. You can read all about her twins birth HERE.


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