I'm Breastfeeding My Premature Twins
Madisonville, KY, USA
From New Beginnings, Vol. 31 No. 2, 2010, p. 12
I struggled to breastfeed my premature twin boys. Feeding two can be tricky and prematurity adds to the challenge. I wasn't able to start breastfeeding until they came home at one month old.
At 31 weeks gestation I was admitted to hospital due to high blood pressure. I was showing signs of premature labor and sent to a hospital an hour away from my home that had a better equipped NICU than my local hospital. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, which quickly became severe. I was there for three days before I delivered via cesarean section. I was not able to visit my babies for a whole day and was extremely fatigued due to all the medicines and the sickness at the end of my pregnancy.
I started pumping my milk. At first it was only about four times a day, then I was able to build up to six times a day. The boys weighed 3lb 7oz and 3lb 10oz. They were started on naso-gastric feedings at a few days old and on bottles about a week later. They tore through my limited supply of breastmilk very quickly and received formula milk several times to supplement it. It was frustrating because I never seemed to be able to get hold of a doctor and the nurses said they were afraid that nursing would tire my babies out too quickly. I only did kangaroo care twice for each boy the whole month they were there.
Finally my babies came home after 26 and 28 days in the NICU. By this time they were used to bottles. Ian attempted nursing the night before coming home and Eli didn't attempt it until he was home. I struggled to pump in between trying to get them to nurse and feeding them bottles. It was almost too much to bear.
Then Eli discovered that he loved nursing and was able to latch on to the breast really well. I was able to nurse him almost every feeding while giving Ian bottles. And then it clicked for Ian as well. Soon every feeding was done mostly by breast.
Now my boys are five months old. Ian is now over 10lb and Eli is almost 10lb. They are exclusively breastfed. We will be starting solids in a month or two.
I hope this story encourages mothers out there who feel they can't cope with trying to breastfeed when they experience problems. It felt that way for me too. I kept with it and succeeded and you can too.