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!

It’s a tough gig

I’m putting aside all of the positives, the joys and the feel good moments for a minute to talk about something that we don’t often say out loud – this motherhood gig is tough. Some of us may feel this more than others and some more frequently than others, but whether it’s multiple times a day, once a day, or once a week, we all feel the strain.

The difficulty of motherhood comes in a variety of forms. It can be in the nervousness of being a first time mum with a newborn, having a curious toddler, parenting a rebellious teenager, or perhaps juggling multiple children. For a number of us, the toughness comes from being a working mum and making the decision to be away from our children. For some, it’s in being a stay at home mum and feeling like we don’t get a break from our children (oh to be able to go to the bathroom in peace!). For others, it’s in the decision to be a work at home mum, and struggling to set boundaries between work time and family time. The difficulty can be in the level of support we receive, be it financial or support from our partners, family or friends. It can come in the form of health issues, perhaps our own or our children’s. It can be from the expectations from others, or those we place on ourselves. It may also appear in the daily sleep deprivation, or in forgetting to put coffee on the shopping list (or forgetting the list altogether!).

Each day, we all face varying levels of difficulty in our daily battles of mum life. For example, there’s the ‘mum guilt’ battle, the breastfeeding battle, the bedtime battle, the mealtime battle, the sibling rivalry battle, the public tantrum battle, the household chore battle, and the battle to end all battles, the ‘trying to stay on top of it all’ battle. There are the constant battles in our head, with strategically planning our every move (like we’re playing a never-ending game of chess), ticking off our imaginary task lists, worrying about our children, and thinking for them (and often for our partners). No matter what the battle, there are times when we will all feel the toughness of motherhood, when we will all feel a bit defeated, and when we could all use a bit of love and support. As the saying goes, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (Plato), and we can all relate to this as mothers.

Bearing in mind that we are all experiencing a challenge or two, it’s important to remember that we are not alone. Even on our toughest days, there are other mum’s out there who are feeling just the same as we are (yes, even those mum’s who appear to have the picture perfect lives). So let’s get more comfortable with checking in with each other and leaning on each other for support, and in return, let’s spread the love, pay the compliments and send those thank you messages (with all the warm and fuzzy feels). Whilst it’s good to acknowledge the difficulties, we cannot forget what or who makes the challenges worthwhile (you know those beautiful little people that we made!), and the hard work that we put in every day as mothers. So most importantly, let’s make it our priority to be kind to ourselves, and remember that “there is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one” (Jill Churchill).


Take the pressure down

Being a parent is challenging. These days, whilst we have the added benefit of information at our fingertips, we also have the added pressure that this constant flow of information places on us, not to mention the pressure we place on ourselves in comparing ourselves to others through social media. With this information overload and the added insight into people’s lives (bearing in mind that this is only what they are willing to share publicly), there is a lot of perceived pressure on us as parents to have it together all of the time. We are served articles and stories about what we should and shouldn’t be doing as parents, how we should be interacting with our children, how we should be spending our time, etc. Whilst these articles and stories are often very informative and give us some great tools, we need to remember to take only what information we feel is useful to us, and remember that every story shared has a context. It is essential that we set realistic expectations for ourselves, and that we remind ourselves that it is okay not to be okay all of the time.

Take what you need

Every day we have the opportunity to sift through lots of information. We might be served articles on parenting, breastfeeding, sleeping, playing, schooling, disciplining, etc. It is important not to feel obligated to take on board all of this information and that we only take what is of benefit to us and to our situations. It is also worth noting that, with the exception of those pesky ads, we control what content we see in our feeds and if certain information is affecting the way we feel then we can simply ‘unfollow’ these pages. We are all different and these websites or pages that we choose to follow are trying to cater to all of us, and therefore we need to be the ones to determine what information is right for us. It might be approaching school holidays and so the articles on activities to keep kids entertained might be relevant to you, or you might have had a rough night with your little one, so a story on how others have approached sleep with their bubs may be of interest. Whatever your situation may be, knowing that you don’t have to constantly question your parenting methods based on the different information you are served every day is key.

Context, context, context

With so many stories and personal experiences shared, it is important to remember that each one has its own context. Whilst we might read someone’s story and feel that our experiences are not quite on par, we need to remind ourselves that their backstory could be very different to ours. They may have differing levels of support, whether that be spousal, family, financial, etc., they may be experiencing different challenges, and have different interests, passions or priorities. All of these things, and more, make our own journeys unique, and can mean that some of us might have it together in one area (or at least appear to 🙈), whilst some of us might be kicking goals in other aspects. Also, just because someone appears to have it all together, doesn’t always mean that they do. Remember, parenthood is challenging for all of us.

Realistic expectations
As parents, adjusting our expectations is something that we shouldn’t be strangers to. For example, how different are our expectations of a ‘perfect’ Friday night now!?! Becoming parents is life changing, and therefore, our expectations should also change to take into account our new responsibilities and what we can realistically achieve, whilst caring for ourselves (keeping stress levels to a minimum) and our children. Pre-kids, our expectations of a productive day might have been a solid 8 or 9 hour day at work, getting to the gym, getting to the supermarket, making a healthy dinner and having a clean house. For some of us, a productive day now might mean showering and getting out of our pyjamas, or getting a few loads of washing done, or getting out of the house for a social outing, or putting in a full day of work and getting home in time for dinner and to tuck the kids in bed. Whatever it is, we need to make sure our expectations are realistic and that we’re not putting too much pressure on ourselves. If we have a busy week planned then perhaps the housework might have to take a backseat, or if we happen to have woken up feeling a bit demotivated then maybe it’s ideal to have a pyjama day or call a friend or family member for support. We need to remind ourselves that it is okay to have an off day (we like to call them CBF days 🙊) here and there, and it’s important to do what works for you.

Take the pressure down

There are always going to be days that don’t go to plan (you know the ones with epic tantrums, poo explosions, nap strikes.. etc. 🙈), but it is essential that we acknowledge that these days are all part of the journey and that every parent has them. There will be days when we might read an article or story and have one of those awesome fist pump moments because we feel like we’re doing something right. Then there will be days where we might read something and start to doubt ourselves. These are the times when we need a reminder to only take the information we need and what will work for us, to remember that each story has a context and that we are all unique, and that our expectations of ourselves need to be realistic. Remember that whilst everyday might not be good, there is something good in every day. You’ve got this!

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.


Almost there!

When the twins were born, I set myself a goal of breastfeeding them for 12 months. From the moment we got home from hospital, the countdown was on… 1 week down, 51 to go… 2 weeks down, 50 to go… My Mum, who I was incredibly lucky to have supporting me, would just shake her head and spur me on, bringing me another cup of nursing tea and a lactation cookie. The first 10 weeks of feeding, pumping & giving expressed top up bottles were really hard. Eventually things got easier & now it just seems like a simple thing to be putting one on and then the next, like a production line.

This past week however, has really tested me. The twins have both been a bit off with either a cold or teething and they’ve both been waking multiple times before 11pm and then again during the night (which is not unusual). My wonderful husband / their excellent Daddy goes in to them first, but the outcome is the same, they’re not going to settle without a feed…

Last night both twins were crying out at 11:15pm and my hubby brought Evie down to me saying that she just really wanted a feed. After responding in my exhausted state saying, ‘I’m so over the feeding’, I took Evie (who immediately dropped her head into feeding position 😂) & fed her while Adam went to get Noah so I could feed him too. As I was sitting there in the dark feeding the twins I kept thinking about the need for me to always ‘come to the rescue’ with feeding them and I couldn’t help but feel a bit deflated (pardon the pun 😋). As I was going back to sleep, I then started thinking back to those first few months of starting the countdown & I thought, I’m almost there! I’ve come this far and I’m almost there!

As I woke to my 3 beautiful kids this morning and I fed the twins with their beaming smiles, I was reminded how incredibly lucky I am to have 3 beautiful babies (not that I really need much reminding, but smiling babies and their older brother greeting me with ‘how are you beautiful Mummy?’ helps 🙊), and to have been able to breastfeed them all. In just over 2 months time I will have reached my goal and I will have satisfied my desire to give my babies the start in life that I have worked hard to give them. I’m almost there!