Image credit Mari Owen http://www.childreninnature.co.uk
I’m going to try not to turn this into an evangelical post on the benefits of breastfeeding, although I will just mention at the start that I am very pro-breastfeeding for several reasons; nutritionally the evidence shows that breastmilk is absolutely the best thing for babies; psychologically breastfeeding is the ultimate form of attachment parenting; and in my experience (though I have never formula-fed) breastfeeding is the most convenient way to feed your baby especially when there are two, and especially when you are out and about – no lugging about bottles and formula, flasks of warm water, sterilising and waiting – the milk is quite literally on tap.
Oops this is beginning to sound quite preachy. Before I get shot down, I know there are many people that really struggle and are eventually unable to breastfeed and that is really sad but in the end it is ok, that is what formula was designed for – to help those mothers who were unable to feed. We had many problems ourselves in getting established and at 13 months still continue to have issues. Not many people know about this, because I tend not to harp on about our feeding problems – for me they have been part and parcel of breastfeeding and so when I get told how lucky I am that I am able to breastfeed twins I just smile and nod. Yes I do count myself lucky but what is the point of telling people about the tears, pain, guilt, hard work (expressing as well as feeding two every 3 hours round the clock to build my supply anyone?) illness, worry and frustration I have been through, and still regularly go through, in order to feed my babies, when I am unlikely to change people’s view that I’m not just ‘one of the lucky ones’ but a stubborn and determined lucky one!!
So, with that out of the way, I’ll get to the main point of this post. In the early days, my girls fed for 45 minutes at a time each, approximately every 3 hours, and I was expressing in between feeds to build my supply. This meant trips out could usually be an hour max. Luckily we live near the beach and it was Summer so we could get out for lovely walks most days. By 4 weeks old I didn’t have to express so much, the girls weight gain was satisfactory for the health visitor and so we began to brave longer trips – and as their feeding time began to quicken I could venture further knowing that I’d be able to feed them out and about. By 10 weeks old I had learnt, with much persuasion and support from the local breastfeeding clinic, to feed them at the same time which was a revelation! It halved the time it took to get ready to go out!! From then we have been riding the rollercoaster that is breastfeeding; distraction when out and about, struggling to be ‘discreet’ as they got older and more wriggly, and then their copycat feeding – if one was feeding having to feed the other, which is absolutely not discreet at all, and attracts much attention from anyone who happens to catch the spectacle; most of which I can easily shrug off as curiosity and who can blame them!
As well as describing our journey, I like to give some tips and suggestions for people who might be embarking on theirs with each post, so here goes:
How to get two on when out and about?
When they were little, I found being on the floor easiest – sit down with my back to a wall preferably, lay one baby on the ground (on blanket or mat), get the other one on (we feed in biological position see here: http://www.nursingnurture.com/positions-for-breastfeeding-twins/) then scoop the other one up with one arm. Obviously if there is someone you trust with you then they can help which is great! Now they are bigger I can get one onto my lap and the other one half clambers up, or if I’m on the floor they now launch themselves onto me from a great distance – ouch!
What to wear?
Nursing tops are expensive and very unflattering / boring!! My saviour has been the clip down nursing vests (H&M do very reasonable two-packs in lots of different patterns), with any top I like on top – lift said top up and unclip vest top down for quite discreet feeding.
Where to feed?
Anywhere and anywhere you want, whenever your baby wants to. In the UK we are legally protected to be able to feed our babies wherever we want and you might want to tell anybody that challenges you that! Please don’t hide away in the toilets – gross and undignified for you and your babies. You can find a quiet corner almost anywhere if you are self-conscious. If we’re out and about in nature I find a rock, tree stump or back against a wall or tree works brilliantly. I have fed on a beach, half way up a mountain, in the woods, and many many more places which I forget. It’s always a good time to take in the view!
I intended this post to demonstrate that it is far from easy, but very possible to breastfeed your twins when out and about, and eventually can make getting out and about much easier! I know this is a very emotive subject and so it should be, but I in no way mean any offence to those who choose not to breastfeed, every one is free to make their own choices 🙂