Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Slowly Sinking...

I feel like I'm losing the battle here.

After all of your wonderful suggestions last week to my cry for help in Got Milk?, I called up the hospital LC and talked to her about Big Boy and his slow weight gain. She reassured me that it's not my milk, as Pretty Girl is gaining well, but something on Big Boy's end. Her theory is that he's smaller, and probably tuckering out before he gets to the calorie dense hind milk. The suggestion was to pump after feedings and give him the expressed milk by bottle.

Sounded like a plan to me.

Like all best laid plans, though, it's not working that well.

It worked great the first few days, and Big Boy was scarfing down an extra 8 ounces of breast milk a day.

After their morning feedings, I tend to get anywhere from 4 to 7 ounces, not too shabby. As the day wears on, my output drops off sharply. I'm lucky to get an ounce after a feeding by mid-afternoon. Sadly, the last 2 mornings, I've only managed to pump about 3 ounces in the morning.

Then there is the bottle issue...

Big Boy definitely eats better from a bottle. He's very lazy at the breast and is becoming even more lazy. Every day I try to wean him from the nipple shield, but now he won't even attempt to latch with out it! I can't tell you how many tears he (and I) have shed with him screaming at my breast in the last week.

Yesterday, in desperation, I stopped tandem nursing them for most of the day. When I took him and nursed him by himself, he seemed to latch better, and was satisfied longer following those feedings. I'm starting to wonder if it's the football hold positioning that I use to tandem nurse that doesn't work as well for him. His weight gain slowing down does coincide with me finally getting the hang of tandem nursing. Well, I thought we had gotten the hang of it.

The problem with splitting up the nursing sessions is time, and the fact that the baby not being feed is usually hungry somewhere within the other's nursing session. The same thing with pumping after feedings...I do nothing but feed or pump

This makes me feel guilty. Guilty that nursing isn't working for us. Guilty that I'm not interacting in any other way with my children. Guilty that I'm pumping. Guilty that I may have been leaving Big Boy hungry, misinterpreting his cries. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

Guilt is an awful thing.

I don't want to stop breast feeding.

I don't want Pretty Girl to only get the benefits.

I don't want to put Big Boy on formula.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter what *I* want.

I have to do what is best for the babies. So, I've increased my liquids, eating bowlfuls of oatmeal, drinking "Mother's Milk" tea, and adding fenugreek.

All the while I feel like I'm on a sinking ship, and I can't bail out the water fast enough.


Thank you for all your suggestions.


You don't know how much they have helped. Without them, and your support, I probably would have given up nursing Big Boy last week.

Thank you.


  1. I wish I had my crystal ball so I could tell you the magical answer. I hope you find what works for all of you and please stop beating yourself up!!

    You are AWESOME!! Just breathe.

  2. And if that comment in any way makes you feel like I'm saying "Just Relax" instead of "I love you and you are amazing!!" then you can bitch slap me and send me nasty emails. Seriously.

  3. Isn't the guilt the absolute worst? It's so very overbearing on top of everything else. I struggle so hard with the idea of formula, but know that no matter what you decide you are an awesome mommy & your babies with still thrive.

    Do you think maybe you aren't getting as much when you pump after feeding because Big Boy is taking more while on the breast?

  4. First of all DO NOT feel guilty! Easier said than done I know. My boys were 26 weekers, so my only option was to pump while they were in hospital. Then they came home at 5 months and breastfeeding didn't take. We struggled and everyone was miserable and so I gave in to the pump and at 11 months here I am still pumping. Not saying the pump is the only way and I know it's certainly not for everyone, but it is an option. There are also meds you can take to help increase your milk supply (besides fenugreek etc - if you are in the states I think it is called Reglan and in Canada it is domperidone) literally doubled mine and that took a lot of the stress off. Good luck to you, whatever you choose will be in the best interests of your babes!

  5. Oh, man. Mama Guilt is UNREAL. And we twin mamas can lay it on like crazy...

    I don't want to falsely encourage or discourage you, but I do want to say that while I'm still struggling to find balance, I found that (for us) it works just fine to add a single bottle every day. They still get all the amazing benefits of breast milk, but also get the "bump" of extra nourishment that they don't have to work so hard for.

    Basically, I'd say that you should take it easy on yourself, and don't be quite so reluctant to supplement (and all the LCs just shot me a death look...). If supplementing with formula is totally outside your comfort zone, feel free to ignore this, but the advice given to me by a dear friend (who, granted, had MUCH more trouble breast feeding than you do) is to let it go. Breast feeding is great, but formula is acceptable when breast feeding isn't working right. One of my readers relayed that her ped. said that most immune benefits of BFing are conveyed by the 2 month mark, and that the rest just slowly add up over time.

    BUT. If formula is totally out of the question, perhaps you could employ it once (just ONCE) so that you could save up your breast milk from that session. And then, crazy as it might make things, you could bottle-feed Big Boy while you breast feed Pretty Girl using the pumped milk from the last session AND pump at the same time. So, using a hands-free bra (I use a sports bra with holes cut in the front), pump one side, feed PG on the other, with BB on the other side of the nursing pillow and the bottle in your hand. I have no idea if that would work, but that was my plan if Henry didn't end up latching well (he finally figured it out eventually, though).

    I don't know. I still have spotty supply when I pump, but the fenugreek seems to really boost my supply otherwise.

    I really wish you luck with figuring this out. I hope you find a solution that works for all of you.

  6. Ugh - what a hard place to be in - where nursing isn't NOT working, but it's not optimal right now. Breastfeeing is HARD with just one - I have to imagine it's near impossible with two. Good on you for trying to work through it.

    Some thoughts:

    I don't think it's a supply issue, not at all. It might just be timing: adding a pump session RIGHT at the normal growth period where the twins need more than you can produce, just nursing anyway. We had this with O - times where I'd pump and get very little and then have to feed him more often during the day anyway. Stay with the morning pump sessions for another week and see if you get back up to a little more.

    If not, can you pump one side while you nurse Pretty Girl and then feed Big Boy that pumped bottle? Even once or twice a day, he'd get the same milk as she did, as if you were tandem feeding, but with the benefits of a bottle.

    Otherwise, I really like Kate's suggestions, too.

    Hang in there, sweetie. You're doing the best you can.


  7. All you can do is your best. And from what you are saying here, you have been and are trying every thing you can. Kate's suggestions sound good.

    Also, in the end, it is not a failure to have to give him formula. ;-)


  8. Why do you feel guilty?????? It's not like this is your fault. Your son needs what is best for him, meaning what is working for him.

    My son had nursing issues and I had low milk supply. I don't feel guilty, I feel thankful that formula exists and that my son is thriving because of it.

    You are doing your best and that is all you can do. I would defintiely strive to keep him happy no matter what.

  9. I think "Gulit" should be Chapter 1 of the mom handbook. I am so impressed that you have managed to tandem BF twins in the first place. My husband is a twin and I know his mom struggled. I think what you are doing is amazing and the fact that your life right now is ruled by feedings and pumping and boobs and breast milk has got to be frustrating. I am sure you would rather just enjoy them and not worry. Whatever you decide in the end will be for the best because you are their mom and you know what is best for them even if the guilt gets in the way. As another mom out there, I support whatever decision you make with no judgement and no unsolicited advice. :) Big hugs.

  10. First let me direct you to a Breastfeeding Multiples forum: They were really helpful for me.

    Second, don't stress about the nipple shield. Mine used theirs until they were 3 months old. That's totally okay! I know it's a pain, but if it's working don't be in a hurry to get rid of it.

    Third, those first 6-12 weeks are the toughest. The only real way to succeed is to just plow through it. But don't let momma guilt play a part in the decision to quit. If you're going to be a better saner momma then feel free to quit! But know that even if you switch to forumla... the first 3 months are all about feeding. I kept at it for awhile only because I knew there was no way we could personally afford formula. I didn't start enjoying BFing until around 4-5 month. All I did was feed babies: and that's okay because it's all they needed! And that was a lot of snuggling.

    Fourth, have you had the LC actually come out and evaluate his latch/sucking? It made a world of difference for me.

    Fifth, the pumping less after a feed sounds like they're taking more/going through a growth spurt. Also, it's normal for you to pump the most in the morning after a feeding than any other time of the day. You prolactin hormone is the highest then so you have lots of milk in the morning.

    Sixth, you can try a bottle with BB that simulates the breast (I used Breast Flows). They still had to work hard to get the milk out but not as hard as with me because it is a bottle ;)

    Finally, with the tandem nursing: maybe you could try a different position. It takes a little more work: especially when they are young. Try Cradle hold with BB on a bobby or a bed pillow and then put PG in the football hold on top of his legs. You'll need a ton of pillows behind your back and maybe and extra one under her, but if he prefers a cradle hold that might be the way to go. Otherwise, on the EZ-2 you can stuff a couple towels/blankets around them to keep them close to you. I also found that they nursed the best when their heads were practically touching.

    You really are doing an amazing job. All these feelings/struggles are totally normal. Please feel free to shoot me an email if you need/want to. I'll be glad to help however I can. I'm on the opposite end of the BF twins story (weaning my 1 year olds), but I totally remember those early days and the frustration/fear/guilt of it all. If it weren't for the support of others, I would have just quit right there. I'll support you however I can.

  11. Hang in there. It gets better. Your babies will get much more efficient at BFing and you won't be feeding them all day every day.

    I was going to suggest a lot of what Melissa Ann suggested above. I still hold one in a cradle hold and the other in a football type hold. I stopped using my EZ-2 pillow pretty early on. I made the football hold baby sit on a pillow instead. It worked great for us and was much more comfortable than the pillow.

    Seeing a LC is essential. His latch could be wrong, even if you aren't sore from it.

    I pumped and only bottle fed at night for the first 2.5 months. My kids were much faster and efficient at taking a bottle and we had issues with weight gain that had nothing to do with my supply. I was worried they would decide to only take the bottle when in fact they did the opposite. One night at 2.5 months, both decided they no longer would take bottles. We couldn't get them to take a bottle again until they were about 8 months.

    You're doing a great job! Those first few months of BFing twins is so hard, but eventually it's so much easier than bottle feeding.

  12. Just found your blog through Multiples and More.

    I get it. Totally. I nursed my twins and then moved to pumping and them moved to formula. This was all over a 6 month period of time.

    I know the guilt- but you have to let that go.

    Every bit they have nursed has done good. For your body and for theirs.

    I did fenugreek and it does help. What dosage are you doing?

    I nursed my babies by themselves. Tandum just did not work for me. But I spent my life nursing since I did do it seperatly. Esp during the growth spurts.

    Increase your water intake, which I am sure everyone has already told you. Rolled steel oats are the best from what I hear but I never did try them.

    Don't give up, but do let go of the guilt. You clearly love your babies and that is really what they need more than anything in the world!

    Email me if I can help crystalandcomp(at)yahoo(dot)com

  13. Oh, and I used a nipple shield for a while with my twins. Like probaby 2-3 months. I agree with Melissa Ann!