SW London, GB
From: New Beginnings, Vol. 29 No. 5-6, 2009, p. 16
I had a very difficult start with breastfeeding. First my smaller twin, Alex, didn't want to breastfeed for the first week of his life. Then I had sore and cracked nipples for weeks, thrush, a couple of breast infections, and bleeding nipples, too. After about eight weeks Alex went on strike and didn't want to take the breast at all for two months. I found breastfeeding so difficult and stressful. It was my dream to keep breastfeeding for at least four months. I seriously doubted I was going to be able to do it.
After four months of nearly every possible obstacle, finally, everything started to improve. Alex came back to breastfeeding and my bigger twin, Nathan, was having no problems feeding. He was strong and healthy. After so many weeks of difficulties, I finally started to find pleasure in breastfeeding. It seemed like a waste of all my efforts to stop at this point. (See Kasia's story, "Twice as Nice" New Beginnings 2008–09; 20, in which Kasia relates the anguish and joy she experienced during the early months of her sons' lives.)
Finally everything was going smoothly and well and I really enjoyed breastfeeding. I simply loved it. My boys loved it too. Gradually they started feeding at regular times. I even mastered feeding them both at the same time. I had gone through a period of bottle feeding early on -- breastfeeding was so much easier and more enjoyable by comparison. It was quick. No sterilizing, no warming up, no washing up, no wet clothes. I also saw them growing strong and they were always full of energy.
After four months of nearly every possible obstacle, finally, everything started to improve. Alex came back to breastfeeding and my bigger twin, Nathan, was having no problems feeding. He was strong and healthy. After so many weeks of difficulties, I finally started to find pleasure in breastfeeding. It seemed like a waste of all my efforts to stop at this point. I needed that. They seemed to need it less than I did then. It was a wonderful feeling to feed them both together and cuddle them. When I was feeding them at night, breastfeeding helped me to fall asleep. It helped me to relax. Often when I had had a bad day, or was stressed, I felt much better and more cheerful after a "double session" of breastfeeding. Another advantage of nursing was that I dropped to a size six, with my breast cup size still DD and I could eat as much as I wanted!
I wanted to continue breastfeeding until my boys were about 18 months. At the same time, I was aware that I would be going back to work after they reached 12 months. With this in mind, I started slowly preparing to wean them, reducing feedings to three times a day and gradually replacing the midday feeding with a bottle of formula. They took to this well.
Suddenly I fell ill; I got a serious throat infection that required me to take strong antibiotics and other medications.* I was very sad to hear it when my doctor recommended that I stop breastfeeding. I cried because I was not ready for that yet. I felt very sad for a couple of days: I was losing something very precious. I told myself it was for the best to wean when we were on vacation because the boys would be easily distracted by new surroundings. But it was very hard. I knew I was no longer irreplaceable.
To my surprise, my boys adjusted well to the change. The fact that I had already started weaning them from the breast helped the process. I know that it is not advisable to stop breastfeeding when we introduce a big change like going back to work or putting children in nursery but, in my experience, the positive changes of going on vacation and having relatives around were helpful in our situation. My babies were distracted by the new place and a different routine and they adjusted well to the change. Having grandparents around was really helpful as the boys were the center of attention all the time and they needed me less than usual.
I am very happy and proud that I managed to breastfeed my twins for a whole year. I know I gave my boys the best I could.
* Most antibiotics do not require a mother taking them to stop breastfeeding. If in doubt ask your LLL Leader or health care provider to consult Medications and Mothers' Milk, Thirteenth Edition by Thomas W. Hale, PhD.