My Year of Breastfeeding Twins

Breastfeeding our firstborn opened my eyes to both the rewards and the challenges of breastfeeding. When we found out that we were expecting twins, I was determined that I would give it my best effort to breastfeed them too. Before they were born, I set myself a goal of breastfeeding them for 12 months, I read as much as I could find about feeding twins, and I stocked up on some essentials. With my previous experience, I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but I really had no idea what I was in for. Our fraternal girl / boy twins arrived naturally at 36 weeks (+3 days), weighing in at 2.1kg and 2.6kg, respectively, and we were very fortunate that they did not need any time in special care. We were incredibly grateful to have such a great start to the breastfeeding journey ahead.

Getting Started

The first few days (okay, okay months) were a bit of a blur. They were spent working on the twins’ attachment (after both having had tongue ties snipped at birth), hand expressing and feeding via syringes, and waiting for my milk to come in. I also had the ‘pleasant’ reminder of those afterbirth pains, which had me gritting my teeth with every feed. I was surprised by the amount of colostrum (that liquid gold!) I initially produced, and was excited at the thought of actually having enough for both babies, and was amazed at what my body could do. This excitement was dampened a little on the second night, as I recall having fed the twins all that I seemed to be able to express, but they were both still unsettled and hungry. A midwife came to check on me and suggested that I give myself a break (after all I’d just birthed twins), and give the twins a few mls of formula to help settle them and to help me get some rest. I remember feeling disappointed that I hadn’t been able to fill their bellies, but I knew that I needed this break, both physically and mentally, to get img_8994 me back on track. After a couple more days, my milk came in, and so too did my huge appetite (give me all the sushi and soft cheese please!). I was once again excited at how much I was producing for the twins, but this also came with the new challenge of getting their little mouths to attach to my very full breasts. Over the 5 days that we spent in hospital, I was very lucky to have the support of multiple midwives and lactation consultants who were all very encouraging. I used every bit of their advice and support, and was proud to be able to leave the hospital tandem breastfeeding the twins.

Coming Home

Once we settled in at home, I hit a bit of a stumbling block. I found the nipple pain to be excruciating (possibly the equivalent to walking on glass… as painful as I imagine that would be) when feeding one bub, let alone both at the same time, and I found that they weren’t feeding for very long before tiring. Through the hospitals support program, we were incredibly lucky to receive a visit from a very knowledgeable lactation consultant, only a few days into being home. Kate was fantastic! She educated me on breastfeeding premature bubs, and how our twins weren’t strong enough to breastfeed entirely on their own yet, and the importance of keeping them warm to conserve their energy (and she accepted me in my pyjamas!). She put together a feeding and pumping schedule, to help me establish a good supply, and reintroduced me to the nipple shield, which I continued to use for the next 6 months. The feeding schedule saw us waking and feeding the twins 3 hourly, and involved trying each twin at the breast, giving top up bottles of expressed breast milk, and then expressing in preparation for the next feed. The full process took approximately 1.5 hours to complete, plus any settling time required. It was incredibly exhausting and often had me questioning if I was still human or a dairy cow (I was just missing the moo). I persevered and we followed this schedule for approximately 6 weeks, until the twins were steadily gaining weight. I was then able to gradually reduce the expressing and top up bottles until we were exclusively breastfeeding.

The Early Months

Those first few months, especially the first 6 weeks, were incredibly hard (there is no sugar-coating it). With the pain I experienced upon coming home, I decided that tandem feeding wasn’t for us and that I was more comfortable and relaxed feeding the twins individually, giving each twin the attention needed to ensure they were attached properly. I created a schedule so I knew what needed to be done and when, and I kept a log book to remind me how long each baby had fed for, what top up they received, and who was on what side next (there was no way I could rely on my mushy brain to remember). I set my alarm throughout the night to mark the beginning of each feeding cycle, and now have heart palpitations if I hear that same alarm tone (the trauma from being woken after blocks of 1 – 1.5 hours’ sleep in the night). I tried multiple times to get the twins off the shield and onto the breast, but this would end in them gagging and choking. I continued to try, but I ultimately decided that if that’s what it took to be able to keep breastfeeding then I would continue to use it.

img_9726 I was constantly exhausted, and I barely left my feeding / expressing corner of the lounge, unless it was to set myself up in bed for the night-time feeds. The exhaustion often turned into delirium, and on one particular occasion, this led to my Mum searching through our bins at midnight because I thought my engagement ring had been thrown out with the rubbish (to find that it had fallen into a bag at the side of my bed). The constant feeding, along with the exhaustion, impacted on our relationship as husband and wife, as our communication began to centre around what needed to be done around the house and for the kids, and I began to feel a bit of resentment towards my husband for being able to get out of the house every day, even if it was to go to work. It also left me with little time and energy to spend with our 2yo boy, which I found really tough. The ‘mum guilt’ weighed heavily as I watched him be entertained by our supportive family, or when he would ask who was coming over to play with him each day.

We were incredibly lucky to have a huge amount of support behind us in those first couple of months so that I could focus my full attention on breastfeeding (it really is a full time job.. and then some). From home cooked meals and lactation cookies, to entertaining our 2yo (another full time job), washing bottles, and jobs around the house, the help was amazing! We were incredibly fortunate to have my Mum come and stay with us for the first 6 weeks as my husband had started a new job and couldn’t take any extra time off. She took care of everything – looking after our 2yo, listening to me countdown the weeks until I could stop breastfeeding, and giving me a constant supply of nursing tea, lactation cookies, food and water to satisfy my huge appetite and give me enough energy to keep feeding (and of course, the added searching through the rubbish bin at midnight). She also helped out during the night / early hours of the morning, giving top up bottles and settling the twins. She was absolutely AMAZING, and I will be forever grateful for her support and encouragement.

Well Established

After those first few months, I found things got a bit easier (as easy as breastfeeding twins can get!) and I gained a bit more energy back (hooray to conversing like an adult again… well almost). At 6 months, img_0439 after a lot of perseverance, the twins started attaching without the shield which made things a bit easier, and it meant one less thing to worry about. From about 8 months, I decided to give them a dedicated side each, as I felt comfortable that their necks were strong and didn’t need the rotation for development, they could regulate their own supply, and I didn’t have to think about what side each one needed to be on. I tandem fed occasionally if I found them both to be too impatient, but for the most part I continued to feed them individually, and I like to think I’ve taught them some patience by having to wait for their turn.

We went through the different phases of getting distracted by other sounds while feeding, little hands poking and smacking me in the face, mid-feed conversations, etc. I’ve been no stranger to the pain of being used as a teething toy, or the ‘joys’ of mastitis. There were certainly days where I was beyond exhausted and wanted to give up, was frustrated at being the ‘milking cow’ and the only thing that could settle the twins, or didn’t think I could continue giving so much of myself to something I didn’t entirely enjoy. It was at these times that I would need to remind myself of my goal, why I was persisting (to give the twins all the benefits of breastfeeding), and how far I’d come. After all the initial effort, and the challenges along the way, it really became completely natural and I would just feed them both without giving it a second thought (often saying ‘NEXT!’ on the occasions that hubby was there to pass the next twin to me). It wasn’t until my sister reminded me one day that 3 feeds a day for twins was really still 6 feeds a day that I stopped to give myself some credit for the hard work I had put in.

“I did it!”

To say I am proud that I was able to achieve my goal of breastfeeding our twins for their first 12 months would be an understatement. I am amazed at what our bodies can do (even my small-breasted, petite body!), to carry twins and then being able to feed them too, and I am amazed at how far my determination got me. Although I was counting down the weeks from the very beginning, and there were A LOT of testing moments, I enjoyed developing a special bond with our twins and I am thrilled that I was able to give them all the benefits of breastfeeding. Getting to 12 months, really wasn’t easy, but I have learnt a lot about myself on the journey and I can say that I am also better off for the experience. With relentless determination and excellent support, from both professionals and family, of which we are so thankful for, I proved to myself that breastfeeding twins is possible, and I that I can achieve anything that I set my mind to!

Sending positive vibes and loads of encouragement to all mums currently on their breastfeeding journeys. Keep going! You are amazing!

The First 3 Years of Sleep(lessness)

Our firstborn has never been a sleeper. Since birth, he has been the type that would stay up partying all night if we let him. He wasn’t the kind of baby who would just fall asleep anywhere (I hear they exist!?), want to be cuddled to sleep, or ever fed to sleep. When he was 5 months old, he fell asleep whilst sitting on my lap at a mothers’ group catch-up, and that was the first and last time he did that. Despite this, he has always been a very happy, energetic boy, with a very active mind. As we approach his 3rd birthday, I have been reflecting on the last 3 years, how our little man has grown, and our experience with sleep or sleeplessness.

img_6732-1The First Year

Well, those first couple of months are a real adjustment period aren’t they? Going from uninterrupted sleep (for the most part), to multiple waking’s, with feeding and settling at all hours (and sometimes for hours) of the night. When our boy was 8 weeks old, we went on our first family weekend getaway and he slept 10 hours straight on both nights. It was absolute heaven (bar the swollen, leaky chest), but upon returning home, those long stretches were long gone. At about the 3 month mark, things got rather testing with our boy waking 3 – 4 times a night, which then progressed to waking approx. 40 – 60 minutes after we had put him down for the night, and every 1.5 – 2 hours after that.

When he was 4.5months old, I decided to seek help and I contacted Ngala. After a consultation over the phone with one of their lovely team members, I was given some suggestions on calming our baby boy before his bedtime and given a gentle technique to try for enabling him to self-settle.  Implementing this new technique allowed me to learn the difference between our boy’s cries for the first time, and gave me a newfound strength. The first couple of sleeps following this were tough, but he showed signs of improvement instantly. He quickly learnt to self-settle and the number of night waking’s reduced and we were all more relaxed and rested.

At 6 months, with both sadness and excitement, we moved his cot into the nursery. Sadness, because it meant that our baby boy was growing up, and excitement, because it meant we wouldn’t be woken by his little grunts and groans throughout the night. I still continued to feed him if he woke during the night, which was usually just the once. At about 7 months, we went through a fun phase of early waking’s between 5am and 6am, then at 7.5 months he pulled out the old standing in the cot trick, which thankfully didn’t last too long. From 8 months, we turned a corner and he started giving us the occasional full night of sleep (yippee!!). When he was approx. 11 months old, the solid nights became his norm, and we ended our first year on a high. He was also still having 2 day sleeps at this point.

The Second Yearimg_8066

The second year was certainly our good news story. Our 1 year old had become a regular all-nighter and we had a bedtime routine that worked for us. Part of this, was accepting that he would take some time to wind down at night, with him recapping his day or often singing himself to sleep (which he still does). Just as he would go to sleep talking, he would also wake up in the same way, which provided us with some morning entertainment over the baby monitor. He dropped to 1 sleep not long after his 1st birthday, which also made it easier for us to get out and about more. With the impending arrival of our twins and our boy’s 2nd birthday, we decided to transition him from his cot in the nursery, into a ‘big boy bed’ in his new room. We felt that it was best to start the transition before the twins arrived, and also felt that it would help with preparing our boy for the change, by having the nursery set up with the 2 cots. We weren’t prepared for what the following year would have install for us, but the unknown is just one of the ‘joys’ of parenting!

Timg_8779he Third Year

This past year has really had us questioning how much (or how little) sleep we need to survive. The introduction of his ‘big boy bed’ and new room came with a new set of challenges for us all, not to mention adding newborn twins and toilet training into the mix. No longer confined to a cot, our 2 year old discovered the freedom of being able to get out of bed unassisted, and he certainly did not waste the opportunity. After endless nights with multiple escapes, and finding him asleep on his bedroom floor, on the lounge in the living area, on our bedroom floor, or in our bed, we resorted to putting a safety gate across his doorway. This eased our concerns over what he might get into during the night with his access-all-areas pass, helped us preserve some patience and sanity, and stopped those frightful experiences of having a little 2 year old suddenly appear at our bedside in the night.

We have gone through just about every phase this year. From him falling asleep at the gate, removing his nappy (whilst toilet training), sleeping in a portacot in our room, sleeping in a portacot back in his room, to now being back in his ‘big boy bed’ (*fingers crossed!*). We’ve tackled multiple night waking’s, night terrors, ghosts that only come when he’s in his ‘big boy bed’, early morning waking’s, etc. We are now experts in his stalling tactics, the needing a drink, the toilet, more cuddles, another drink, or needing to see the moon, read a book or any other part of our bedtime routine that we may have missed. We have learnt that our boy sleeps best if he has a night light, his beloved blankie, his afternoon sleep (the nights are a challenge if he misses this), and lots of cuddles of course, and that he just has a very active mind.

For us, the last three years have really been about trial and error, and accepting our new way of ‘sleep’. After spending the first year worrying about our boy’s sleep (or lack of), we’ve learnt to relax and to have the occasional laugh at the challenges we are thrown. There are many different phases, milestones and tests along the way, but it is important not to make too many comparisons, to do what works best for you and your little one(s), and to remember that every day is a new day.


“It looks like there’s 2 in there”


Our journey to having twins began on Christmas Day in 2015. I snuck out of bed early to take a pregnancy test, hopeful for a positive result so that I could give hubby (Adam) an extra special Christmas present. My eyes lit up when I saw the 2 lines and I quickly wrapped it up and put it under the family’s Christmas tree (it is tradition for the 4 daughters, our partners and kids to all stay over at my parents on Christmas Eve). When it came to opening his gift, Adam was completely surprised and ecstatic! It made for an extra special Christmas Day, sharing our news with our immediate families.

I went off to the doctors in the first week of January and booked a dating scan for the 14th, when I would be approximately 7 weeks pregnant. After experiencing the heartbreak of a miscarriage only 4 months earlier, we decided that Adam and our son (who was 18mo at the time) would come along for support. I drank the required amount of water and was both nervous and uncomfortable (the pain of a full bladder!) on the journey to the radiologist. When my name was called, the 3 of us went into the room and my heart raced. I laid down on the table, hoping only to hear a strong heartbeat, as the radiographer started ultra-sounding. She was concentrating hard but wasn’t saying much. Eventually she asked me if I would be comfortable having an internal, and based on my past experience, I immediately questioned (in a shaky voice) if there was something wrong, while Adam squeezed my hand. To our complete shock, she replied “things look good, it just looks like there’s 2 in there”. Adam and I looked at each other in disbelief. All at once we were picking our jaws up off the floor, bursting out laughing, and saying “Oh sh*t!”, “Oh my god! Oh my god!” I raced off to empty my bladder for the additional ultrasound and then it was confirmed, we were having fraternal twins!!

We finished up and slowly walked out to the car. We were absolutely dumbfounded. Twins didn’t run in the family, and it didn’t even cross our minds that this could be a possibility. I remember saying, “we went into the scan hoping for a healthy baby (embryo) with a strong heartbeat, and here we are now with 2!!” We sat in the car and started making phone calls, with the first to my Mum of course! She had only just asked that morning about organising time off work around when we were due, so we jokingly said that she might need to take more time off than planned, and she guessed it, twins! She was very excited! I remember speaking with my Dad who was in just as much shock as we were and he just laughed. My in-laws were also very surprised and absolutely thrilled. We had some fun with our siblings by asking them strange questions and sending them cryptic photos (2 eggs, 2 baby hats, some scrabble letters..) until they decoded our messages (it didn’t take long!) and joined us in disbelief. We told a few close friends who were equally dumbfounded. Everyone had their own concerns and questions, ‘How are you going to sleep them? You’ll need 2 cots.’ ‘How are you going to fit 3 car seats in your car?’ ‘You’ll need a bigger pram!’ We were in shock, so we did what we did best (pre-kids) and we went out for dinner to celebrate. We needed time to process things ourselves, so we decided to wait until our follow up scan a week later before we told any other family.

Over the weeks that followed we were a bundle of mixed emotions. Every time we said the word “twins” we paused and laughed. I tried very hard to stay focused on all the positives and the excitement that we were feeling. I kept wanting to switch to task mode and to start getting things organised (because there was so much to do!!) but I also knew I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and I needed to stay relaxed. Well, as relaxed as someone can be when they’re expecting twins… and have an 18 month old.

There were so many thoughts going through my head, some positive and some not so positive. In moments of fear I would catch myself thinking, ‘why me?’, and then I’d feel guilty for feeling like that after our recent miscarriage and when others were struggling around us. At other times I’d be over the moon at how blessed we were. I’d be amazed that we were having twins and that our little family wouldn’t be so little anymore, and only in a matter of months! I would go crazy thinking about how we were going to cope and all the work that would be involved and the help we’d need, having to give myself a little pep talk about staying positive and putting out good vibes. My heart would ache at the thought of not having any time for my little boy when the twins arrived, but explode with thoughts of him being a big brother to 2 siblings and how excited he’d be. I’d go to sleep wishing only to have 2 happy and healthy babies and that I could keep growing them inside me for as long as possible. I was both so excited but so nervous at the thought of how much our lives were about to change, it was an emotional rollercoaster.

My advice to anyone expecting twins would be to enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible and to celebrate the miracle of growing 2 babies at once. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for being blessed twice and don’t let anyone dull your excitement. Try to stay calm and not let your thoughts and to-do lists overwhelm you. If you need to, then ask for help. You will eventually need to lean on others for support so you may as well get some practice in. When I was pregnant, I was told by someone with twins that it would be more than double the work, and whilst this is true, I wish they’d also told me it would be more than double the joy. Having twins has been our biggest challenge, but it has also been the best thing to happen to our family and we couldn’t be happier! Good luck on your journey! We wish you all the happiness and good health.

My Breastfeeding Stories

This is a #throwback post to those first few gruelling weeks establishing breastfeeding. My sister is due with her first bub in a few weeks & we’ve been talking a lot about breastfeeding & how it looks so easy from the outside but those first few weeks of getting established (& the challenges) are not widely talked about. For some lucky mum’s it comes quite naturally & there aren’t any issues with attachment but for a lot of mum’s (myself included) this is not the case & it takes a world of effort to get breastfeeding working. When you look around & see family or friends or people in public just pop their baby on & off they go, it’s hard not to question yourself & why it’s not working straight away for you. It’s so important to remember that everyone’s experience is different & that (in most cases) there has been a lot of hard work go on behind the scenes of what appears to be an ‘easy’ & natural process. These are my stories… dun dun

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My firstborn son didn’t attach well &, after lots of hand expressing in hospital, one of the midwives introduced me to a nipple shield. I continued to use it for a few weeks & it worked really well for us. After a few weeks, I went to a mum’s group & everyone sat in a circle & just fed their babies as needed. As a very self conscious, first-time mum who was venturing out for the first time, I was incredibly overwhelmed by this public feeding. I was trying to keep myself covered up, whilst trying to use the shield with a baby that kept hopping on & off & knocking the shield. He eventually hopped off just as the shield had filled up with milk, knocked it & spilt milk down my clothes. It was at this point that I packed up my things, gave some excuse that I had to leave, rushed off to the car & cried all the way to my mum’s house. From that point I was determined to feed my son without the shield & although I’d had an awful experience (in my eyes), it was the kick I needed to keep pushing & we finally got feeding working for us without the shield. To add to this, there was the constant concern that I couldn’t see how much he was drinking & if he was getting enough (which ate at me everyday) but with regular weigh ins I could see that he was gaining weight & was a happy & healthy baby. I was very lucky to be able to feed him for 13months.

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The twins were an entirely different story (as each baby is different!) They both attached fairly well in hospital (still a lot of hand expressing) & to begin with I was able to tandem feed.. & boy was I so proud! The midwives were all pretty confident that I ‘had this’ & I was sent home with the tick of approval to exclusively breastfeed our twins. Once I got home, I found it excruciating to feed one bub, let alone both at the same time & I found they weren’t feeding for very long. I was so incredibly lucky to receive a visit from a midwife / lactation consultant who quickly educated me on breastfeeding prem bubs & how they weren’t strong enough to feed entirely on their own. I was put on a strict feeding & pumping schedule to help establish a good supply & to help the twins gain weight. I was reintroduced to the shield and continued to use it for the first 6 months of my twins life. I tried multiple times to get them off the shield and onto the boob, but was often met with gagging and choking. Eventually (after lots of perseverance) I was finally able to feed them without the shield. I owe it to this midwife & to my amazing mum (who stayed with us for the first 6 weeks & took care of our 2yo & everything else so that I could solely focus on breastfeeding the twins while hubby had to work) that almost 9 months later I am still breastfeeding our twins (& to lactation cookies & nursing tea). I also owe it to myself (& I’m strong enough from this experience to know that) because it was damn hard work to maintain a 3 hourly feeding/ pumping schedule whilst getting approx. 1hr sleep before it was time to start again.

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My main message here is to show a snippet of what goes on behind the confident mum that you see breastfeeding her baby (or babies) with ease & to hopefully help at least one person see that they’re not alone in the struggle & that they can do it too!

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