🦸🏿Motherhood & Womanhood
Mama to twins Ayanna & Azaria
Lover of binge watching shows & travelling 🗺️
Once the news I was having twins settled in, I was overwhelmed by the amount of decisions that had to be made. However, I knew I wanted to breastfeed from the start. I have to admit, it wasn’t an emotive decision for me. It seemed the most practical thing to do; it would be cheaper to feed two babies with breast milk than formula. I didn’t even want to calculate the cost of feeding two babies formula… I was already scared of the cost of nappies. I also looked into expressing my breast milk because I knew I would need all hands on deck.
My daughters actually arrived early (27 weeks) – now, looking back, I was in total shock. I went from a room full of doctors and midwives to being alone with my fiancé. I was totally overwhelmed and all I wanted to do was see my babies. I had to wait for 6 hours before I was able to go into NICU, where all I could see and hear were tubes and the beeping from the machines keeping my girls alive. I was encouraged to hand massage and used syringes to collect the colostrum. To be honest, it was a distraction and gave me something to focus on. It took nearly a week for breast milk to ‘come in’ and it was a relief because I was starting to get worried. I was shown by a nurse how to use the pump – the hospital had a breast pump room that all mums could use whilst their babies were in NICU. Expressing my milk made me feel I was contributing to my girls care because I wasn’t actually looking after them myself. I tried to pump every three hours which was difficult at times until I hired a hospital grade breast pump so I could pump when I was at home instead of always trying to rush to the hospital. At first, the pumping was going really well: I was pumping more than the girls were eating.
But by the 3rd month, the girls were growing so much and as they did their milk intake was increasing and my milk production was not keeping up. Even though the pumps are great, they don’t give the same signalling to the body to make more milk. I remember when the nurse had the conversation with me about mixing my breast milk with formula. I was surprised how disappointed I felt that I wasn’t producing enough. She reassured me that I was producing for two babies, not one, and I had been doing great. I tried for another week to produce enough, so onto Google I went to try different pumping techniques to increase my milk production.
I got a slight increase but not enough. I started feeling the pressure every time I pumped and didn’t pump enough. So once I agreed to mixing the formula with my breast milk, I felt the pressure lift.
Once the girls reached 5 pounds they were ready to be discharged: a day I was patiently waiting for to finally have my girls home. Excitement mixed with anxiety, I was used to their breathing being measured, but then they were home and it was just us watching over them. I continued to pump for another three months, but trying to pump with the girls at home I found increasingly difficult. I did try to tandem feed a few times but it was difficult to tell if they drank enough and I still ended up topping up with the pumped milk I had in the fridge. Trying to keep our flat in some sort of order, remembering to eat and actually finally having the day to take care of the girls. It became impossible to keep up. So after six months, the girls were totally fed by formula for premature babies. By this time I was shattered.
Now looking back and having a not so straightforward breastfeeding/expressing story, I am happy that there was an alternative for when I was not producing enough breastmilk. I remember how crazy those months were adjusting to having my daughters home.