Thursday, 17 March 2011

Doubly blessed

Happiness is mine today!

This weekend I was off call.  Oh how lovely to be off call.  I've been really busy for the past fortnight supporting three mums of twins.  The first mum was doing brilliantly.  Breastfeeding was (and still is) going well.  The second has one twin who is feeding like a champion and the second has had problems latching on and taking her milk from a bottle.  The third is my mum with the boys born twelve weeks early.  One of her sons came home and was having some difficulty feeding, the second fed well in the hospital but it didn't work out once they were home.

With each of my visits I have tried to encourage and support to the best of my ability.  I have cooked, sent them to bed, kept their spirits up when breastfeeding seemed to be going awry.

What each of these twin mums have in common is the negative opinions of many others.  They have been told at various times during their pregnancies and postnatal periods that breastfeeding twins is going to be at best difficult but more likely, impossible.  And so the first barrier to successful twin breastfeeding is formed.

Now why do people do that?  I mean we have two breasts and with two babies it seems simple.  Perhaps it is their own experiences of breastfeeding or their own perceptions.  Whatever the reasons, it is a barrier that needs to be broken down.

The second twin mum I've been supporting has plenty of milk.  All she has to do is to look at one of her babies and her milk flies across the room.  You may think that I exaggerate, but (for a wee change) I do not.  As second baby girl is not as good at the breast as her sister she gets some of her feeds from a bottle.  Mum puts the pump to her breasts and in less than 5 minutes has filled two containers with milk.  Honestly, she could feed an entire neonatal wing on her own.  When I first started with them a few weeks ago Baby girl 2 did not go to the breast.  Her sucking action with both breast and bottle was not good.  I suggested Cranial Osteopathy because it was clear that the issue was not a lack of supply and so it had to be another reason.  The lovely Miranda Clayton visited her at home and discerned that there was a weak muscle issue with the baby and wondered if it might be to do with the fact the babies were born at 38 weeks and perhaps Baby girl 2 needed a little longer.  Whatever the reason, with some treatment from Miranda and encouragement from me, Mum has had success with breastfeeding Baby girl 2.  Baby girl 1 feeds beautifully and needs no encouragement.

My third lady has struggled from the beginning.  First the boys were born 12 weeks early, then she was told that one of the placentas had been left inside her after the birth.  Now the progesterone levels are high during pregnancy to maintain it and when the placenta has been retained (or left inside), lactation is delayed because of the powerful inhibiting influence of progesterone.  In short, breastfeeding is difficult to establish, or in her case, expressing was rather soul destroyingly minimal.  As the boys were tiny and premature and the objective was to get them big enough there was plenty of supplementing.  When the placenta was discovered her milk production increased but her confidence in her ability to produce enough milk for two was shot.

My role with her was one of faith.  She didn't have enough faith in herself so I held it for her and she leaned in my direction.  Little by little the milk production increased and the babies' ability to suckle and feed increased.  Now the amount of artificial milk is rapidly decreasing and she is beginning to feed them both almost exclusively from the breast.

So, the reason for my happiness?  I got two texts over the weekend.   The first from lady 3 which read "I did it!  Can't believe it myself... I breastfed both together, all by myself, J still asleep :D they r sleeping like angels now...".  The second, from lady 2's husband, said "Lady 2 is feeding both babies together for the first time".

So like my ladies, I am doubly blessed.

When the Wee Weapons were tiny


  1. Oh, Mars - they're lucky ladies and babies to have you!

  2. :heart:

    I so wish that I had known you when my babies were little, particularly DS1. lucky lucky families x x x

  3. indeed they are... could you come round and cook for me?

  4. What a wonderful story, I mean stories! :) They can be really inspiring for mothers of twins. I have breastfed my girls for 3 years and 3 months, I think almost nobody (even me) would believe I could do it.
    Can I translate your post for my blog about twins in Bulgarian? :)

  5. Of course you can zabliznacite. I'd be honoured. :D

  6. Thanks a lot! I'll keep you informed :)