Nursing Mother

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Nursing Pillows

"Do I need a nursing pillow? Which brand have other mothers of twins used and where can I buy one? Will I be able to use the pillow when the babies get bigger?"

My husband ordered a breastfeeding pillow for me from an ad in Twins Magazine. I wasn't sure if I needed one, but after a few weeks of nursing almost constantly we decided to try it. What an amazing thing! We were very blessed with healthy twin boys who weighed 7 lbs. and 5 lbs. 13 oz. at birth. I still use the pillow to nurse them both and they turned 1 year old last week. They are big boys, about 23 lbs. each, and I can still use the pillow! I highly recommend buying one of these, it is definitely worth it. You can look forward to nursing because you don't get arm cramps from trying to contort yourself and hold them both at once.

My twins were born 10 weeks ago, and I used my breastfeeding pillow twice. Now they are too big to go on the pillow and they have enough head control to be able to latch on themselves. I thought that I "had" to have the twin breastfeeding pillow, and although it's a nice idea, it doesn't always work in practice. I preferred to feed my babies separately for quite a while, and I like the feeling of holding each one (especially since it's hard for me to feel like each one gets enough holding). When you use the pillow, you are not "holding" the babies in your arms. The pillow holds them and your arms are free. To me this was never that important. Also, my breasts were so sore from feeding two babies that I couldn't bear to feed them both at the same time for quite a while. Maybe other women have had more positive experiences with the breastfeeding pillow, but to me this was an expensive item that has a very short useful life.

I didn't buy the pillow. I thought it was a gimmick and I wasn't sure I wanted to invest in still another piece of STUFF to add to the house clutter. After the babies were born, I didn't even try nursing them together. I wanted to have some time alone with each of them. Then...I was forced into nursing them together because I couldn't stand either of them crying while waiting. So I used pillows etc.

I really had a hard time nursing them together for quite a long time. It was hard for me to position them, hard to reposition, uncomfortable while I was nursing, in all, not what I wanted. I still preferred to nurse singly, and did so whenever my husband was home. At around 4 months I gave in and got the pillow. While I could live without it (obviously I did, after all), it was a help. It meant that I could use it as a support when one needed to be repositioned, or burped, or moved to a sleeping position, etc. I used it extensively for a few months. Then on and off until they were about 10 months. Despite this heavy use, it still looks just about new.

To provide another experience with nursing pillows: I'm *still* nursing my almost 18 month-old twice a day on my Nurse Mate pillow (the other one weaned himself a few months ago). I had always had trouble comfortably managing a single baby in the nursing position when I nursed my older daughter, so the pillow was a great help. I nursed both boys together from fairly early infancy and dragged it with me wherever I went during those early months.

I bought the Nurse Mate second hand from a woman who nursed her twins only a week. It was in excellent condition. I was looking forward to using it, didn't work very well for me. I am broad-waisted (not fat, just wide in the torso), and the pillow didn't fit around me very well. I also needed pillows underneath to bring the babies up to breast level. I realized I could more comfortably nurse my babies by arranging a stack of three sofa cushions on one side and one sofa cushion on the arm of the couch on the other side. Works great: I am still nursing my 12 month old twins that way. Fortunately, I was able to sell the Nurse Mate to an expectant mother of twins for $30 (exactly what I had paid for it), so I didn't lose anything by trying the pillow out.

I am nursing my 9 month old boys, and still use the Nurse Mate pillow.

The only time they become unmanageable is when they decide they've had enough (for the moment anyway) and roll off to the side. Sometimes I have to hold them so they don't do this, because I know they're really *not* done yet. I think this kind of distraction would happen any way you feed them, however, because they are just at that age of wanting to be off and running.

I haven't put much effort into it, but have tried on occasion nursing them without the Nurse Mate, either with regular bed pillows or with nothing. I seem to have a hard time getting them interested in nursing any other way. They don't seem comfortable, so I'm just continuing with the pillow for as long as they want it. I've heard stories of toddlers who nurse standing up--I'm waiting for that day :-)

I still nurse both boys at once using my Nurse Mate pillow and they are 14 1/2 months old. They are about 25 lbs. and about 31" long. Now though, instead of their little feet hitting the back of the couch when they lay on the pillow, their bottoms reach the back of the couch and their legs sort of cross over each other behind me. This is still more comfortable for me than stacking pillows etc. Often too, the boys will hold each others hands or play games and giggle while they are nursing--too cute!

I left the Nurse Mate pillow behind and began nursing them sitting on my lap when they got tall enough that their mouth reached the spout while they sat on my lap (3 or 4 months old, I think). Now they sprawl all over me and each other as they nurse and also have a tendency to arm wrestle and even sometimes kick each other in the head while nursing.

I'm currently using the Nurse Mate Pillow from Four-Dee my opinion, it's adequate when we're "on the road"--in-laws house, my parents house. It's easier to use if you have a chair that is about the same width as the pillow so that the sides of it are supported--otherwise it seems to droop. I've also used it with pillows folded up under the sides.

I used the Nurse Mate pillow to nurse my twins until they were 7 months old and then they just lost interest. Unfortunately, I didn't order it until after they had already arrived and I was trying to feed them at the same time by stacking up pillows on each side of me. The pillows kept sliding out and my back was killing me from always leaning over. I ordered the pillow and couldn't wait for it to arrive. I used it extensively and then resold it to another expectant mom of twins.

Just a short note re: nursing Mothers of Multiples sales *always* have many, many for sale so if anyone is interested, you might check into getting them (a little less expensively) from a MOTC club.

I also got the Nurse Mate and I still use it every day. You will probably find that you need to add more support underneath the sides and maybe on your lap, to bring the babes up to you. Be sure that you aren't bending over to reach your babies--raise them up to reach you instead. Supporting underneath the sides of the pillow will allow the babies to rest comfortably lying down, and you won't have to worry about them slipping or sliding off.

I highly recommend the EZ-2-Nurse Breastfeeding Pillow. I saw the ad in Twins Magazine. It is higher than other pillows and angles in so that babies can't roll off.

I looked at the Hugster pillow at Lil Things the other day--the only problem I can foresee with it, is that it doesn't look big enough to support a twosome much past the newborn stage...although I haven't tried it--that's just an eyeball guess. I'm really thinking about going and buying one just to try it out!

I think the Hugster is cheaper but I don't know anything about it. I don't think it was available when I ordered mine. It looks a little smaller in the picture and I'm not sure if it goes all the way around the sides of your body (very important for the football hold).

Phone numbers and prices as of 10/1/96

EZ-2-Nurse:  $39.95 + $6.00 S&H.  1-800-584-TWIN.
Hugster: $29.95 + $5.00 S&H.  1-800-459-0461.
Nurse Mate:  $39.95 + $4.50 S&H.  1-800-526-2594.

Nursing Multiples Table of Contents | Twins List FAQs

Babies Distracted While Nursing

"For over a week now my 5 months old girls are not paying very much attention while nursing. They stop and turn away and babble but they are still hungry because a few minutes later they cry to be fed. Are they losing interest in nursing?"

Have you read Dr. Brazelton's book, _Touchpoints_? One of the things he mentions is that as a baby goes through different parts of her development, she may appear to lose interest or skill in another area. Yours sound like they are currently interested in their babbling and observation of other things, and this distracts them from the nursing.

Be patient with them; it's not that they are permanently losing interest in nursing, just that other things are distracting them. Remember that even a few minutes of nursing on each breast should stimulate it to keep producing, so you should be fine in terms of milk. It may just take longer to nurse them again for a little while. These "cognitive growth spurts" are just as important and just as real as physical ones!

I also find that at times the babies "play" when they're nursing. Sometimes I end up with sore nipples as a result. I don't think that your babies are loosing interest in nursing--they're just gaining interest in the world around them!!

I don't think they are losing interest, but gaining more interest in other things. Are you nursing them at the same time? When my boys do the same thing, I make sure to nurse them separately. (I know it takes longer, but it saves my breasts.) For breastfeeding support, I have joined the parent-l mailing list. [See E-Mail Resources for subscription information.] I have gotten much needed advice and support there on breastfeeding. We are still nursing.

Nursing Multiples Table of Contents | Twins List FAQs

When Breastfeeding Multiples Takes Too Much of a Toll

My babies were preemies so we tried getting them on the breast early on, but for two reasons, too small and weak to really latch on and feed, and because they were in the NICU for a month and bottle fed most of their meals, they became "bottle babies." I tried a little when they got home to get them on the breast again but it was really tough, so I gave up on that and kept pumping so they were getting about 50/50 breastmilk and formula after they got home.

I started to get *very* depressed and stressed out by the whole process. I was home alone with the babies most of the time so I would feed one, feed the other, then pump, maybe had 30-60 minutes and then had to start the whole process over again. I got very little sleep and nothing else done during a day.

After some major guilt I finally decided the process was taking too much of a toll on me and, as it turned out, the kids too. Within a few days of quitting the pumping I felt like a new person, rested, more relaxed and less "chained" to that darn pump. As it turned out the babies were also happier. Maybe my stress level was affecting the breastmilk but they had *less* gas, which amazed me and were not as cranky between feedings. So for me and my kids quitting the breastfeeding was better than toughing it out.

I nursed my twins for 3 months, and I can't lie to you and tell you that it was absolutely pleasant. I know there are supermoms on this list, but I was just "mom", and got them through being a month premature. I had to nurse them every two hours around the clock to bring them up in weight...for the first 10 weeks. Literally I was delirious, and I went from a 34C to a 36D cup, quite like Dolly Parton. I always fed them together on a Nurse Mate (which was $30.00 and fantastic) but they drank well, which in turn brought about a huge quantity of milk. I basically had too much!

I would try to latch the first baby on, and the moment that one touched me, let down would start and I'd be scrambling to get the other baby latched properly, while streams of milk were shooting at his/her face, all over me, and onto my husband. It was difficult. I would pump to try to relieve my supply, but that only made it worse, creating more milk. I couldn't go out for a lunch with a friend (very rare anyway) because I'd leak on regular intervals all over my outfit, (through the double and triple pads in my bra). My breasts were just letting down about every 1 1/2 hours, all day long, no matter if there was a baby nearby or not. I'd feel it starting and I'd quickly grab the nearest baby, cup, bottle...and fill'r up. After getting out of the shower, I'd have to lean over the bathtub and let the 5-10 streams spew out and go down the drain, it was funny at times but truly such a sacrifice. We also felt like letting all that precious milk go down the drain was such a waste.

I'm not knocking it completely, but I must say that it is challenging, at least in my case. Many women don't get that let down so massively and can handle the demands. I made it until the twins were up to a healthy weight, I absolutely needed sleep and wanted to live in something other than my nursing gown soaked in sticky milk.

Contrary to my words, I would do it again, obviously for the love of the children.

Nursing Multiples Table of Contents | Twins List FAQs

Triumphing Over Problems

I was a first time mom and was determined to breastfeed exclusively for at least a few months. I had read up on nursing and thought I knew what I was doing, but by the end of my second day in the hospital, the nurses had me convinced that I was starving my baby. They kept bringing her in while she was sleeping and chastising me because she wasn't eating enough. She was a hearty little eater when she was awake, but she dropped below 5 pounds anyway, which the nurses said was my fault. Afterwards my doctor told me all babies lose some weight during their first few days of life.

I cried a lot in the hospital. The nurses and my mother-in-law (who had been telling me for months that I'd never have enough milk to nurse twins) convinced me to let her get formula in the hospital. Actually, I wasn't at all convinced, but I was in too much pain after my caesarean to object.

It turned out ok, because she didn't develop nipple confusion or anything. When we got home I began nursing both babies again, and they did very well. Their doctor was amazed at their rate of growth.

Unfortunately, I think that many people in the medical community just aren't familiar with the special circumstances surrounding multiples. I guess it's up to us to educate them.

I had a very difficult time nursing my first child, and a somewhat less difficult time (but still with some problems) with my twin boys, mostly because I tried to avoid some of the problems I'd had the first time. Let me say right away that no matter what feeding method you ultimately choose, it will all be fine. In my case I chose to breastfeed only, and was successful although it was touch and go for awhile.

With the twins, one had a lot of difficulty latching on and used to chomp on my nipple, which didn't make me feel so good. We had a number of late night sessions where it would take me 30-40 minutes to get him to latch on right and where I was literally screaming with pain and frustration. Luckily, he eventually learned, because his brother, who had been nursing fairly well, decided to get colicky at 4 weeks and did most of his screaming while nursing.

My boys were born at 36.5 weeks and were a good size (5 lbs. 10 oz. and 6 lbs. 10 oz.). I didn't expect to have any problems nursing them since I had successfully breastfed their older brother until he was 13 months old. I was therefore dismayed to discover that the smaller one couldn't seem to figure out how to breastfeed. He might have had a case of nipple confusion. (He'd received several bottles in the hospital nursery because I was 5 days there from complications from my C-section and not up to breastfeeding right away). Or he might have had an immature sucking reflex. Or both.

I was very depressed about the situation. I began to wonder if he'd ever be able to breastfeed. We rented a Medela Lactina pump so I could express breastmilk for him which we fed to him in bottles. Even though he was getting the benefit of my milk, I still felt that he was missing something by not being able to nurse.

When he was about 2 weeks old I went to the home of a LLL member and licensed lactation consultant who spent several hours working with us. She gave us several things to try; she recommended we discontinue the bottles and "finger feed" him instead with breastmilk delivered through the tubes of an SNS (supplementary nursing system). She didn't even charge us for the consult (God bless her!). Later that day, he finally latched on and began to nurse. Within a week he was breastfeeding like a pro and we were able to discontinue the alternate feeding methods. It is a year later, and this little guy is still breastfeeding and a lot more interested in continuing than his twin brother.

This experience changed my attitude about breastfeeding. Because my oldest caught on to nursing right away, I hadn't realized an experienced, well-intentioned mother could have trouble breastfeeding. I learned that it takes TWO, nursing is a partnership, and just because the mother is experienced does not mean that the baby will be able to nurse right away. On the other hand, it would have been easy for me to give up when my baby wouldn't breastfeed. I'm proud that I didn't give up but persevered through a difficult situation.

Some of the advice the LC gave which I found helpful:

1. A newborn baby needs to suck, and if his need is being fulfilled through a rubber nipple he will be less inclined to suck at the breast. Try alternative feeding methods such as cups, medicine droppers, syringes, or finger feeding. Finger feeding is particularly good because it accustoms the baby to the feeling of flesh in his mouth rather than rubber or silicon.

2. When you put the baby to your breast, speak words of encouragement to him in a gentle tone. He won't understand your words but will sense the meaning and the love you have for him.

3. If your baby gets the breast in his mouth but doesn't suck, stroke the top of his head in a slow, circular pattern. This stimulates the sucking reflex.

DON'T GIVE UP!!!! I had such a horrible start with nursing my girls, after spending 10 days in the NICU and having my milk given to them from bottles, they were so used to bottles that they didn't want to latch on to me. One of my girls was over 1 month old before she finally figured out that she could get milk from me a lot faster than having to wait for me to pump first. With their pediatrician's advice, we "starved" them for about 8 hours (that's a long time to go for a 4 lb. baby), so that they were so desperate that they would latch on to anything, and from that day on they nursed like pros...not to say that we didn't have minor problems here and there after that, but it was literally overnight that they figured it out, and by the time they were 2 months old, they didn't even know what a bottle was!

I just wanted to give you some encouragement, and tell you to stick with it, they WILL figure it out eventually if you're persistent enough. I give all the credit to my husband, who absolutely refused to let me give up. For that first month I would sit on the couch and just cry and cry, but he would help me hold the girls and would make me keep trying, even when I wouldn't cooperate at all. HE was the patient, encouraging one, and I thank the Lord that he knew to hang in there. I'm glad to say that I was able to nurse my girls completely (starting to add foods at about 6 months) until they were 13 months old and then they weaned themselves.

If you have to, keep working with lactation specialists, I did that too, but I found that when I saw different consultants, they each told me to try a different thing, and it was a bit confusing. I guess by this I learned that there is not a wrong way or a right way, you just have to keep trying different things until you find out what works for you, and before you know it, you'll become a nursing team (it truly does take teamwork).

Nursing Multiples Table of Contents | Twins List FAQs

Encouragement - You Can Do It!

Encouraging words from mothers who successfully nursed twins.

I want to encourage anyone out there who really wants to nurse twins, that it can work very well.

I nursed my girls for 17 months. They never once had a drop of formula. They had their first taste of solid food at 6 months and up to that time only had my milk. They thrived. Born at the 5th percentile, they were up above 85 percentile by 6 months. (It's been downhill since solid food, but that is another story. They are 50th percentile now.) At one year, they started regular cow's milk, but still nursed too.

I am no "super mom." I had basically never seen a baby before having my two. It took us a while to figure out how it worked. I had some trouble learning how to get them to latch properly, but fortunately that happened early on when I was still in the hospital and, after listening to and trying out much conflicting advice from nurses, found a way that worked.

As they grew, different positions worked better and things got easier. When they were 8 months old, I went back to work full time for two months then half time since then. Thanks to on-site daycare, I continued to nurse. Nursing my babies was one of the most wonderful things I have ever done. I am inordinately proud and I really, really enjoyed it. That is not to say that it was easy every single moment or that I never spent a moment feeling put upon, but certainly on the balance it was wonderful. I am sad it is over now.

I was surprised and irritated by the number of people who told me that it couldn't be done or inferred that my children would be under-nourished. I found that those who didn't nurse or who had stopped seemed the most persistent in their view that I should stop. I think it is probably human nature to present what you yourself did as the best thing--and to some extent I am doing that here--but keep in mind that there are many ways of doing this and just because one person was not willing or able to nurse that does not hold true for the next woman. Go for it!

A positive attitude is an important step towards a successful breastfeeding relationship. My ability to breastfeed twins was often doubted by other people, even when it was known I'd previously breastfed four children each beyond their second birthdays. Our newborn fraternal boys weighed 8 lb., 5 oz. and 7 lb., 2 oz., this continuing difference in weight leading others to believe I was underfeeding the smaller twin. ("You must not have enough milk for two" etc). The boys not only have quite different body shapes but also temperaments and appetites and so on--in fact "being a twin" is one of the few things they have in common. Just as you might expect with non-identicals. As confident as one may be, it is disheartening to face negative reactions and I was relieved that our happy, healthy, fully breastfed twins proved the critics wrong.

Things suddenly became easy around 4 months, and so, so enjoyable!

I had a very successful experience nursing my boys, even after I went back to work when the they were 2 months old. I took a morning and afternoon break to pump and went home at lunch to nurse. I had so much milk that it wasn't a problem keeping up with them. The doctor even called me "Dairy Queen". (I'm a small woman--5'2" 105 and I have to puff it out to fill the "B" cups!!) It's amazing how your body is designed to keep up with demand!

I did successfully stick with breastfeeding through the first extremely painful month and the next fabulous 11 months. The only thing that kept me going was the advice from a friend (of a singleton) that it would get better after 4 weeks. (It actually took me 6 weeks before I was completely comfortable, but at 4 weeks I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.)

Breastfeeding my twins has been the most rewarding, precious contribution to their lives and I am so happy that I persevered, stuck it out through the rough beginning.

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