I want to share my story and encourage any mothers in a similar situation. The decision to breastfeed was one of the easiest decisions for our family, especially when we found out we were having twins. But sometimes things don’t work out the way you would hope.
I was not able to breastfeed my twins. Before the twins were born my husband and I did the budget and research and found breastfeeding was the best option for our family. We bought a great breast pump, pads, bottles for storage, nursing pillow and did research on breastfeeding multiples. At no time did formula feeding cross our minds so when we found out the twins would have to have formula only, we were unsure where to start. Not only was our budget about to change but I would soon fight depression.
My pregnancy was pretty uneventful but I had an allergic reaction within an hour after my twins were born, resulting in high doses of Benadryl. Right away we noticed my milk supply was not building up. The hospital had a great lactation specialist and I had a good friend as my OB nurse so I was in a comfortable learning environment for learning to latch both kids. They felt the twins were not getting enough from me so we began supplementing right away with the thought that the Benadryl may have been drying up some of my supply.
After being released I was pumping constantly with little success, changing my diet and adding Fenugreek to my daily routine. After numerous pumping sessions, I still was not able to supply enough to feed even one baby let alone both babies. I decided to freeze the milk, in hopes to have enough built up to feed the babies at least once a day. I kept adding to the bottle in the freezer when I realized the frozen milk was not the right color. I had watched my sister-in-law nurse my niece years before and was given frozen greenish milk which I thought was bad but all my SIL said was absolutely normal.
Immediately, I called one of my sisters who said they believed I did not pump milk but that I was still pumping colostrum (the first milk that comes down after birth) and to call the doctor because it had been weeks since the twins were born. I made an appointment and had blood drawn. My worse fear was revealed — my body was not producing the hormone to make breast milk. No matter what I tried I would not be breastfeeding the twins. My son at this point had developed a good latch which I would have to wean him from slowly.
It has been about two years now and looking back I know this caused a huge amount of anxiety and depression. The anxiety of not knowing how we were going to afford the formula, which brand, which formula, and, even worse, finding my twins had reflux and lactose intolerance. Then the depression from feeling like a failure to my children and thinking, “Well, if I could have fed them breast milk they would not have health issues.”
If you are at a similar place either with under production, no production, or you are second-guessing a decision to breastfeed, I am here to tell you — stop torturing yourself. You are doing the very best you can for your children and you are not less of a mom for formula feeding. Your kids will not care when they are older how they were fed as a baby, it will not be recorded in a history book, and most likely the person who is being the hardest on you is yourself.
If you are pregnant now and planning on breastfeeding, I think that is awesome, but don’t limit your options like I did. Get familiar with the formulas out there, call your soon-to-be pediatrician and the hospital and see which formulas they would likely supplement your babies with if that was necessary. Then go ahead and write those companies for samples, coupons, and information. If you need them, then it is one less stress you will have to deal with and a little less anxiety on the budget. If you don’t need them, you can give them to the local pregnancy center.
Some advice for those of you who are or may go through the stress and anxiety of no or little production: you need to take a step back and analyze the situation. Have you seen a lactation specialist? You will need to get lactation services if you haven’t already and you should call your OB to check for underlying causes like I had. I found trying to get a few drops was so stressful and frustrating, I failed to enjoy the bonding time. Sometimes the best for the kids may be a hard decision for you. For me, it was a quick decision since I knew my twins were not able to get the nourishment from me, but with little production, it may be a decision to discuss with your doctor and spouse.
For me, once I had a prognosis I began to fight depression. The kids would soon be diagnosed with acid reflux and lactose intolerance, then the thoughts of “if I was breastfeeding this would not have happened” started to haunt me. WRONG! Acid reflux happens to breastfed babies too — they also can have lactose intolerance causing the mom to change her diet. These conditions are not your fault — do not blame yourself. I did not realize this until a year later when I found a MoMs group and until then I tortured myself.
Then I read articles where breast milk has so many more benefits for the kids than formula — what if they don’t get the antibodies and get sick more often? I had to again stop harming myself with these thoughts. The formulas have improved over the years and my twins were not getting sicker than other kids. What was I stressing about? I had to mentally understand I was doing the best I could for the twins, they were gaining weight, and they were healthy, happy kids.
It was a major disappointment for me and I let my thoughts get to me way too many nights. I want to encourage you to know it is OK to give your kids formula whether by choice or necessity. Try not to beat yourself up. I was not able to recognize my depression right away and now that my twins are two I see I missed some wonderful opportunities to enjoy my little ones.
If you are sad each day and constantly feeding yourself the “what ifs”, you may need to talk to your doctor about depression and see what your treatment options are. Sometimes reaching out to other moms of multiples who have been through similar circumstances can lift you up and give you advice or just the comfort you need in your decision. Twiniversity has great free forums where you can meet other moms with the similar struggles. There will be many plans you make that may not work out for your twins but stay positive and try again, or try something different. It will all work out.
All content on this Website, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
Carolyn Christensen is a working mom of toddler twins and dedicated wife of 12 years. After serving eight years in the Army Reserve she became the office manager to a small construction firm where she is blessed to work with her husband and bring her twins each day. She loves writing, cooking, organizing, building things, supporting other MoMs through social media and most of all being frugal. She hopes to continue to write and one day publish a book. Find more recipes at: http://ourbunch2011.wordpress.com/category/recipes
Got twins? Us too! The Twiniversity Podcast with Natalie Diaz is created by parents of twins FOR parents of twins, from expecting times through the teenage years and everything in between. This podcast is all about parenting twins, offering plenty of tips, parenting hacks, and of course, humor. Just know that we are laughing WITH you every step of the way.
Are you looking to connect with an experienced parent of multiples who has been in your shoes? Do you want to feel supported, guided, and heard as a new parent of multiples*?
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We are looking for parents of multiples from around the globe who want to be matched up with a parent mentor, or who want to BE a parent mentor. We’ll be matching up moms with moms and dads with dads from all over the world to get personal support in this crazy life of multiples parenting!! All you have to do is complete a simple application form and we’ll do the matchmaking! And the best part? The program is totally FREE! There are no fees to take part in this program.
Ready to sign up? Visit the Twiniversity Parent-to-Parent Mentorship Page to learn how to apply!
Are you a new twin parent? Check out Natalie Diaz’s new book “What To Do When You’re Having Two: The Twin Survival Guide From Pregnancy Through the First Year”, available in stores now!
The rate of twin births has risen 79 percent over the last three decades, and continues to increase. A mom of fraternal twins and a national guru on having two, Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the twin-trenches.
What to Do When You’re Having Two is the definitive how-to guide to parenting twins, covering how to make a Birth Plan checklist, sticking to one sleep schedule, managing double-duty breastfeeding, stocking up on all the necessary gear, building one-on-one relationships with each child, and more.
Accessible and informative, What to Do When You’re Having Two is the must-have manual for all parents of twins.