Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins or More
by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada
Softcover, 380 pages
Reviewed by Dee Keith
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 2, March-April 2000, p. 48
Whether you are a mother of twins, triplets, or more, a La Leche League Leader working with mothers of multiples, a health care provider, or the grandmother of twins, you will find MOTHERING MULTIPLES to be a definitive guide. More than once I've heard a mother of twins say to my co-Leader, Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, "I couldn't have done this without your book." In true La Leche League style, Karen brings a gentle ear and nurturing tone to her revision of this one-of-a-kind book.
Does it seem that there are more mothers expecting multiples these days? There were 25,000 more sets of twins born in 1994 than in 1984. This represents a 35-40 percent increase annually in the number of twins since 1984. Higher order multiple births (triplets or more) have increased by 178 percent since 1984 in the US, according to statistics included in the new edition of MOTHERING MULTIPLES. These facts are even more amazing when we consider that the overall US annual birth rate dropped between 1984 and 1994. To some extent, this increase can be attributed to changes in technology and fertility enhancing techniques. Only 25 years ago, more than 25 percent of twin pregnancies were not recognized until delivery. Today the unexpected birth of multiple babies is almost unheard of. One thing is certain: accurate information about caring for and breastfeeding multiple babies is needed more today than ever before. MOTHERING MULTIPLES meets that need.
As a mother of twins, I can honestly say that things could have been a whole lot easier for me had I had Karen's book. I discovered I was having twins only two weeks before they arrived but after six weeks of bedrest for preterm labor. It was a relief when our suspicions were confirmed that we were indeed expecting multiples. That was 24 years ago. Having parented twins remains a vivid life-altering experience for me: truly the best and the most challenging of my ten parenting experiences. My twins have caused me to grow as a parent in my skills and patience.
As Karen explains, having multiples is both a joy and an overwhelming experience. My stress level would have been greatly reduced had someone acknowledged this reality for me. I think I could have better understood what to expect and what to plan for. I would have had some ideas about how to help my older children adjust, and how my family and friends could better have helped me. I believe I would have gotten that outside help I longed for and not felt guilty about needing it.
The original edition of MOTHERING MULTIPLES was a little over a hundred pages long. The new book is 353 pages. It has been expanded from the original 15 chapters to 29 completely new chapters, with a variety of new photos. The information has been updated comprehensively to help parents prepare for the impending birth of multiples. Karen explains the importance of good nutrition and getting good prenatal care by finding a health care professional with whom the expectant parents feel comfortable. She describes why certain procedures are performed more frequently with multiples and explains why they may be needed. As technology advances, so does our knowledge of how to best help a mother expecting multiples to give birth to healthy babies.
Karen brings her experience as both a perinatal nurse and a board-certified lactation consultant to this book. She has worked with hundreds of mothers of multiples. The book is full of practical information. It covers prenatal care, pregnancy, preterm labor, birth, diet, milk expression, and the daily care of those precious little ones. It takes you from those early days and the rigorous demands of multiples to the complexity of baby-proofing when your babies become toddlers.
One thing which might be surprising to people who have not worked with mothers of multiples is how many difficulties there may be at the beginning of the breastfeeding relationship. MOTHERING MULTIPLES does an excellent job of providing information mothers and Leaders need. For example, there is a discussion of full and partial breastfeeding which is especially important when you have three or more babies. Kangaroo care, how to maximize supply, and hindmilk feedings for preterm infants are also covered.
She explains how to go from partial breastfeeding to full breastfeeding when nursing doesn't go as well as hoped for in the beginning, as may happen when babies arrive very early and spend time in a newborn intensive care unit. The resource guide at the end of the book will be of great help in finding that nursing pillow that is just a little larger, a support group, or a good breast pump.
If you have or are expecting twins, and have never read MOTHERING MULTIPLES, now is the time to order your own copy. It will help you stop worrying and start enjoying what a wonder your babies are.