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Double Joy

Annette Gulati
Round Rock TX USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 6, November-December 2005, p. 250

Before I became a mother, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my children. I had heard about the wonderful health benefits for babies and the special bonding between mother and child, not to mention the enormous amount of time I could save by not having to prepare formula and sterilize bottles. After all, my milk would be there, ready and waiting. When my first child was born, I nursed her successfully for almost a year. I relished that time and missed it tremendously when it was over.

Four years later, I found out that I was pregnant with twins. My first thought was, "How am I going to feed them?" Although I did a lot of reading and research about twins before my own were born, I still wasn't confident that I could breastfeed both of them, let alone at the same time, as some publications suggested. I felt that I had to at least give it a try so they would have the same opportunity as my oldest daughter.

I was blessed that my twins were born naturally, only two weeks early and with no complications. My wonderful doctor handed me my son and he immediately latched on in the delivery room. His twin sister was a little smaller, and initially needed oxygen. At the outset, I had difficulty getting her to nurse; she was supplemented for a week or two until she could get the hang of nursing. This was a source of extreme guilt for me, but I was determined that she would eventually realize the benefits of nursing as well.

It wasn't long before I was breastfeeding both babies. In the beginning, my husband would bring them to me, one by one, similar to an assembly line. Feed first baby, burp first baby. Feed second baby, burp second baby. I realized that if I ever wanted to have time to do anything else, like spend time with my older daughter and my husband, or have time for household chores, I needed to get the twins on the same schedule and nurse them simultaneously. I had bought a tandem nursing pillow for just that purpose, and it was time for me to use it.

I occupied the entire family room couch. Plopping down in the middle, with the nursing pillow wrapped around my waist, I piled up additional pillows on either side of me to support the babies. Both my mother and my mother-in-law had come to help in the first few weeks, so I had no shortage of hands. Somebody would hand me our daughter, Sarita, and I would get her latched on, her head lying on the nursing pillow, her body extended out to my right side. Then it was our son's turn. Arun latched on and extended his body out to my left side. Although it felt strange at first, it soon became our feeding norm.

When my husband went back to work and our mothers returned to their homes, I didn't know how I was going to carry out this procedure with no help. I realized that I couldn't latch one baby on and proceed to pick up another without possibly hurting myself. Instead, I prepared the couch with pillows and sat down with Sarita. I'd lay her on the pillows, careful not to let her latch on. Then I cautiously lifted up Arun from his bouncy seat on the floor in front of us. Once both babies were up on the couch and in their positions, I latched them on one at a time. How resourceful we can be if we have to!

Although I was nursing the twins simultaneously, I had to be aware of each of their personalities and adjust the feedings accordingly. I always tried to lift up Sarita first as she was more patient and was willing to wait while I picked up Arun and adjusted them both in position. My son, on the other hand, knew that as soon as his head hit that pillow, it was time for food, and there was no stopping him. I also had to be aware of who wanted to keep eating, and who had had enough. I would usually burp Sarita first, picking her up with both hands and holding her over the same shoulder. Arun was content to continue eating, lying securely on the pillows.

As the twins got older, it was obvious that our group effort was about more than just filling bellies. Arun would often reach out a hand to touch his sister's hair or Sarita would grasp Arun's hand and pull it above their heads. In addition to my bonding with each of them, they were strengthening their own relationship. We continued this way for the better part of nine months, and I must say, I have the fondest memories of this amazing nursing experience.

Last updated Tuesday, October 3, 2006 by njb.
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