I recently sat down with myself for an interview about breastfeeding twins. I caught up with myself while pumping one evening.
Reporter Amanda: Do you breastfeed your twins?
Interviewed Amanda: Yes. Right now I manage to do it exclusively.
RA: Wow! You do it exclusively? That must be a challenge.
IA: I constantly worry that they are not getting enough to eat. When I hear or read that someone I know has had to add formula to their baby’s diet because they aren’t producing enough milk, it increases my own worries.
RA: If you are always worrying why do you do it?
IA: Basically three reasons--I’m cheap, I’m not a quitter, and I’m a little bit afraid to stop. Philosophically, I didn’t have a real opinion about breastfeeding. My mom didn’t breastfeed me (I also grew up without a father, as a latch-key kid, in an asbestos house, had a mom who smoked while she was pregnant and ran behind the DDT truck when she was a kid, and any number of other things that were bad--but I turned out okay and she’s such a good mom we joke about all the “bad things” she did to me). Really, my desire to breastfeed was completely about money. Breast milk is free; formula is not. As for not being a quitter, well once I get going, I’m in it for the long haul. And, I’m afraid to stop because if it will mean plugged ducts or any other complications I’ve already had, I’d rather not do that again.
IA: I think I’ve had them all. I even got to add mastitis to the list earlier this week. However, the complication that takes the cake is my incision. I should warn you that describing this has grossed out a pharmacist and a nurse practitioner.
RA: Okay, thanks for the warning. Go on.
IA: In August, I had a lump removed from my breast. I think everyone knew it was nothing, but better safe than sorry. It was nothing. The surgeon sewed me up tight with 9 stitches. He warned me that the incision could leak milk as the milk will look for the path of least resistance to get out. He said he used hard core stitches and did it so tight to try to prevent the leaking. After the stitches came off he put what amounts to butterfly bandages on it. All of the incision healed up except for the very end. This has been leaking milk on and off ever since. Sometimes it is a lot--I have to change my shirt because the entire right side is soaked down to my waist. Other times it is just a small trickle. In all of these times I get sad that this is milk the twins aren’t getting.
RA: Well, on to more interesting questions. Do you feed the twins one at a time or at the same time?
IA: Most of the time I feed them one at a time. I can do tandem; I’ve got the special pillow, but it isn’t the most comfortable for me. I also end up being totally unable to do anything else. Plus I worry a little wandering hand will do something to start my incision leaking again. Though sometimes one baby will be eating leisurely while the other is screaming. I might take pity on the second baby (or my husband who is trying to calm said baby) and go tandem.
RA: How often are they eating now?
IA: Still about every three hours. That means if I don’t do tandem, I might nurse one for 20-30 minutes, the other for 20-30 minutes and get 2 hours in between. At night they can usually go from 9pm to about 1:30am before needing a feeding. Then it is about every three hours.
RA: With that schedule do you ever get out of the house during the day?
IA: I think I’ve nursed at just about every Starbucks and Coffee Bean in Los Angeles. Thank goodness for my breastfeeding cover (aka Udder Cover, Hooter Hider, Peanut Shell, etc.).
RA: How do you make enough milk?
IA: I pump at night after the last feeding to signal to my body to keep making milk. I have been storing that milk in the freezer. We’ve gotten so much stored that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are storing some in their freezer. I also take herbal supplements; fenugreek and blessed thistle, but I can’t find goat’s rue. Noah thinks these are all from Prof. Snape’s potions cabinet.
I’m lucky that our Kaiser Permanente is working to become a “baby friendly” hospital (don’t ask me what they are now if they aren’t already “baby friendly”) so they have good support for breastfeeding. We can get the twins weighed whenever we want to make sure they are gaining enough. They’ll even evaluate the latch and weigh the twins just before and right after a feeding. It is sort of like a reverse Biggest Loser.
RA: Well thank you Interviewed Amanda for sharing this info with us. We really appreciate you taking the time.
IA: You are welcome Reporter Amanda. Thanks for distracting me while I pump.