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Nursing Twins

Susan Shannon Davies
Boise, ID USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 14 No. 3, May-June 1997, pp. 73-4

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.

It was a fitful night, one of many during my pregnancy, and my dreams were vivid. I dreamed that I had just given birth to twins. My family was assembled in our living room and I stood in front of everyone, trying to hold and nurse two babies. My family laughed along with me, and I woke up with a sense of awe and amazement.

Because this was one of many twin dreams during the early part of my pregnancy, we had a good laugh over breakfast. What my husband refused to believe and what my conscious mind was uncertain about, my subconscious mind knew—I was expecting twins. This was confirmed by ultrasound at 28 weeks. Within six weeks I would really be trying to nurse two tiny baby girls.

After their premature birth, my twins stayed in the NICU for 12 days. I drove up every day and stayed in the lounge, sleeping and resting so I was available to feed them. Grace nursed well, but Rachel was slow to catch on and tired easily. At one point, she had to have supplements through a nasogastric tube. If I hadn't had two positive breastfeeding experiences already, I probably would have been discouraged and less confident. Rachel was always a quick, infrequent feeder. Grace weighed more, was less interested in solid food even at 18 months, and loved to nurse.

People often asked if I nursed the girls together. I did when they were tiny, but I never got really good at it and preferred to nurse them separately. Even as they got older it was still hard for one to wait while the other was nursing. If possible, my husband or one of the older girls tried to distract them. I had the babies alternate sides for the first year. After that, I found it easier just to nurse Rachel on the left and Grace on the right. Surprisingly, my milk supply adjusted to each baby's nursing. I wish I would have done that earlier—it was easier to remember.

Drinking enough fluids was very difficult. With a family of six, it was easy to get busy and forget to drink. On the other hand, I didn't have any problem eating constantly!

Nighttime was the toughest part of nursing twins. For the first eight months I woke the second one when the first was finished. Then I realized that Rachel would sleep longer if she didn't have to nurse on Grace's schedule. So, Rachel would wake up only once or twice while Grace would wake a minimum of three times. Their waking times rarely coincided, so my sleep was very interrupted.

Holding them both was tricky. As tiny babies I could hold them together, but Rachel liked to bounce and Grace liked to sway. They also didn't like it when their feet and hands got tangled up together. Around two, I began to think about weaning the girls. Rachel was mostly amenable to the idea, but Grace protested. Rachel would have weaned much sooner but when she saw Grace breastfeeding, she demanded nursing justice! As time went by, Grace became more accepting of weaning, but nursing was still very important to her. She would tell me, "Mama me tired (or sick). Me need chow." (Chow is our word for nursing.) Then, after nursing, she would look up at me and say, "Chow helps, Mama." Once we got down to one nursing in 24 hours, usually early evening, Grace would tug on me saying, "Long day, Mama, need chow." How could I argue with that? Many days I wished I had something like chow to ease a long, tiring day.

Now that nursing is over, people still ask, "Wasn't it hard nursing twins?" I answer, "Well, just having twins was difficult." Would I do it differently if I could? No way. Chow helps, especially when you're a twin.

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