26 Nov

Fiona’s story of Breastfeeding Twins

As a mum of two already, I knew the benefits of breastfeeding and also of natural birth and wanted both for my twin delivery and well-being when they had arrived. We joined Penny Price’s ‘Having Twins’ classes and made some great friends and learned loads. One class was tailor made for feeding, it was totally un-biased and we all discussed several ideas, different bottles, sterilisers, breast pumps and all our options also having a long session with an NCT breast feeding counsellor who talked about feeding two and showed us pictures and ideas of how to try, should we wish to.

I think if the boys were my first pregnancy I would have taken professional medical advice about delivery and feeding which in my opinion now, would have been a mistake. The Royal Berks deliver 90% of their twins by C section and the research behind this (which I extensively trawled through) is that it’s ‘safer’ to plan and deliver twins by C section. Midwives are also out of practice delivering twins, the less they deliver the less experience presumably they get and it becomes a ridiculous ever decreasing circle. I was very stubborn throughout and insisted I wanted to deliver them and feed them myself but came across very negative medical professionals. As it was they were both breech throughout my preganancy. My Consultant told me that no.1 had to be head down or it’s a non-starter anyway. Harrison turned round and engaged the night before my section… Apparently an impossibility itself and “too late” to change their plans at the RBH. Obviously the Specialist had a round of golf booked at 2pm.

Once they had arrived at just before noon, Harry roared in indignation at being removed and then decided that he couldn’t be doing with this breathing lark, causing mild hysteria and a quick trip upstairs to SCBU. It took the staff about 5 mins to realise he was a total drama queen (like me) and well over four hours (paperwork and procedures) to return him to his anxious mother.

Alex latched on in ‘Recovery’, beautifully, encouraged by a smashing midwife and we admired him for what felt like hours. He had several snuggles and sucked away like he had done it many times.

At about 5pm we were reuinted as a family and I was relieved no-one had given, Harry any formula. He was quite wriggly but we had a go at double feeding. I had my best friend and fantastic doula Ailsa on hand and she propped me up in bed with two V shaped pillows and tucked a baby under each breast (rugby ball style) and we were all happy and comfy. It was frankly a euphoric moment and one I will treasure forever.

We slept like that, I had my catheter in still and a steady stream of drinking water, biscuits and my iPhone so why move? In the morning the midwife was amazed and asked me if I was ok and did I need any formula. We had had a good night, just the three of us. We all drank, snuggled, snoozed and updated facebook. Why would I have needed formula?

I stayed in the RBH for a week which is unusual but the boys weren’t putting on ‘enough’ weight … and I was encouraged many times to give them a bottle. I have to confess to feeling I would be a failure if I did. It got to a point where I just wanted to get my boys home and settle so I tried the bottled milk, I always fed them myself first and then topped up with a weeny dose of the stuff. It worked a treat and we trundled home like a travelling circus of bags, balloons, flowers, buggy.

We managed to breastfeed Alex and Harry for the first six weeks of their lives. I was lucky enough to always have Carl on hand to help, Ailsa my doula ‘extraordinaire’ and a huge circle of family and friends who cooked for us, walked dogs, got our shopping, did the school run and endless errands and jobs.

My advice to any Twin parents would be

  • To prepare in advance and do all the research so you know how to breast feed and where to get help if it gets tricky
  • To get hold of several pillows (V shaped are awesome) and take them into hospital
  • To remember you are not ill (and neither are they) so medical professional may not be the ideal source of advice. You are the parents and most likely your gut feeling is right; join twin clubs and make other twin parent friends and ask them what they have been through and tried.
  • To accept ALL help available
  • Cherish every moment, it’s a unique club and although its hard work I genuinely believe its not all that much harder than a single baby, just a million times more special.

NCT Breastfeeding Counsellors can support you with feeding twins. Call the NCT Breastfeeding Line between 8am and midnight, 365 days a year, on 0300 3300 0700