My twin breastfeeding journey

I found out I was expecting identical twins at 9 weeks pregnant. I had booked in for a private scan and there they were. My husband was in complete and utter shock (he was literally speechless for at least half hour after the scan!), and I just kept telling him and the sonographer that I had just known it was twins! No idea how – just mother’s intuition, I guess.

Once we had got our head around the fact that we were going to be a family of five, rather than the family of four we had planned (our eldest daughter was 3 at the time) and navigated our way through the horrendous morning sickness, it was time to plan for the twin’s arrival.

We found out we were expecting girls, so that made life somewhat easier as I had kept all my daughter’s clothes, bedding, toys etc. After buying a double buggy, twin co-sleeper cot, another infant car seat (and a new car big enough to fit us all in!), it was time to think about how I was going to feed them.

Unlike my first pregnancy where every single midwife, doctor and health visitor appointment included a full on speech about breastfeeding, not one single person mentioned breastfeeding the twins. Not one.

When I was pregnant with my eldest, to be quite honest I actually didn’t want to breastfeed her. The whole idea of breastfeeding freaked me out. I couldn’t even look at a photo of a breastfeeding mum and baby. However, I said I would give it a good go. Once I gave birth to my eldest, she was placed on my chest, she latched onto my breast by herself (to my horror at that time!) and we never looked back. I breastfed her until her 1st birthday.

So, when it came to having the twins, I wanted to breastfeed them. I thought I would combination breastfeed and formula feed as quite frankly I was scared, and didn’t think I would survive the sleepless nights with twins, let alone breastfeed them.

But I did.

The twins were born at 34 + 3 weeks due to their shared placenta starting to fail. This meant a 12 day stay in NICU but I was expressing my milk for them straight away for them to have via their feeding tubes. I have since learnt that you can express colostrum before birth (colostrum is the first milk your body produces – “liquid gold” as it is often called as it is packed full of nutrients and other magical things for baby). The twins took to breastfeeding wonderfully once they were strong enough and our breastfeeding journey began.

Now nothing really prepares you for twins. They are a lot of work. I am grateful I had my eldest first as I had learnt how to do baby things like changing a nappy and doing up the poppers on a baby-grow (as my word those poppers never want to match up in those early days). I have such admiration for mums who had twins or multiples as their first children. For me, once having skillfully mastered the art of doing up a baby grow I felt quite at ease with the looking after of twins. Everything just had to be done twice. Breastfeeding however is very different with two babies compared to one.

I decided it was best for me and my twins to breast feed them both at the same time. In order to achieve this, I invested in a twin breastfeeding pillow. Mine sat around my waist, with a supporting bit for my back and a cushion either side of me for the twins to lay on. This meant nearly all of our breastfeeds were in the “rugby hold” position. Getting the first twin latched on is quite easy as you have both hands free to help them. Getting the second one latched on is much trickier so I did have my husband and mum helping me with that in the beginning.

For the first few weeks (or months!) I spent my days sat on the sofa with the twins on boobs. Although I found a way to get them latched on by myself, getting them off and putting them down whilst still asleep was far trickier! If I had the opportunity to not have to move (i.e. the washing up just had to wait) I would just sit and rest until the twins woke up for the next feed! I always made sure I had a bottle of water and snacks to hand, my phone and the tv remote! I managed to watch all 180 episodes of Desperate Housewives in those early weeks of breastfeeding the twins.

Breastfeeding them when out in public I had to use a different tactic. If I was at a baby play group and there was a pillow or big chair available, I would breast feed them at the same time, just as I would at home. If this was not possible, I would try my best to gauge when the twins would want a feed – ideally just before they had even realised themselves. This meant I could find a breastfeeding space (this used to be in my local Mothercare) or go to a café. I would breast feed one twin whilst hopefully the other would still be sleeping or just stirring. Then swap and feed the other. In an ideal scenario this would stop either of them crying and being distressed for a feed. It didn’t always happen like this though and I have more than once whipped both my boobs out in Costa Coffee to feed them both at the same time.

I am extremely proud to say that I breast fed my twins for over two years. Twin 2 breast fed until she was 2 years and 3 months old. She stopped by herself after I had spent two nights away working at a bra event in London. Twin 1 continued breastfeeding until she was 2 years and 10 months old. At that point it was actually me who made the decision to stop. I slowly stopped her daytime feeding, by distracting her with toys and giving cuddles instead. Night times were harder to stop, as this was mine and her favourite feed as we would be all snuggled up in bed.

I am beyond proud of mine and my twins breastfeeding journey. It is a time in our lives that I will cherish forever.