06 August 2016

Fed is Best

The day after giving birth to Ned a midwife questioned my ability to breastfeed given I 'didn't have a lot of breast tissue' and asked if I had considered mixed feeding. I don't think I'd ever even changed a nappy so the term mixed feeding was foreign to me. She explained that I may need to consider formula top ups as it was unlikely I would be able to exclusively breastfeed.

I was kind of puzzled. Yes, my boobs hadn't really grown {major disappointment} but surely if my identical twin sister was able to breastfeed exclusively then given our DNA, shouldn't I?

The midwives were amazingly supportive once we'd come home and practically sent dad off to the shops with bottle and formula recommendations. I was also provided with a list of things that may help boost my supply. I tried the medication, the herbs. the cookies, water, pumping ... all of it. And to me, it didn't seem to really make much of a difference. I think the thing that really frustrated me was that the technique was never an issue and I was happy to breastfeed whenever and wherever I had to. The fact that I could only give Ned what felt like an 'entree' feed was disheartening. I remember one day where mum and I had gone shopping at Noosa and I had breastfeed him there. He basically screamed the whole back back to Maroochydore {around 40 minutes}. We pulled into the shopping centre and I could have qualified for a game of Supermarket Sweep {anyone remember that show?} with the speed I located and purchased a tin of formula, a bottle of water and a bottle. When you exhaust all avenues what really can you do? You have two options ... persist feeling constantly deflated or switch to formula full time.

I continued mixed feeding until Ned was around five months and then phased out the breast feeds pretty quickly. I was actually proud I lasted that long.

Prior to birthing the twins I didn't have any clear goals when it came to breastfeeding. I thought I would give it a crack and see how we went. My boobs again barely grew so I pretty much knew that I'd have issues with supply again and with two babies to feed this time, my expectations were low.

I'd say from the get-go I sabotaged our feeding relationship. My prior experience taught me that no matter what I did I would never be able to support two babies, and from chatting to other twin mums, would I even want to?

The staff in the special care nursery {where we were the entire time} were very supportive and realistic around discussing my wishes and intentions for feeding the girls. Without much of a thought, and now knowing what mixed feeding was, I explained to them that for now, that was my choice. For the four nights we stayed at the hospital I breast fed one or both babies and then followed that feed with a formula bottle. This happened three hourly, round the clock and it was tough. I don't know how many times a different midwife or nurse or lactation consultant questioned whether I had troubleshooted my poor supply issues with Ned. I really should have just recorded a message and whipped out the iPhone every time I was asked about my decision. I know they all meant well and all of them recognised that breastfeeding twins is difficult even when you have no supply dramas but still, I felt a little judged that I wasn't keen on exploring options again this time.

One lactation consultant however did try and discover the root cause of my supply issues. The doctor who had prescribed me ovulation drugs to help with falling pregnant {that's a whole other blog post} did mention the words polycystic ovaries. And then it clicked. That was more than likely the reason why I couldn't and wasn't producing much milk, even with all of the medical and natural supposed remedies. Finding this out however didn't stop aforementioned lactation consultant from grabbing my entire A- cup boob and shoving it abruptly in one of the twin's mouths. I felt a little violated to be honest.

When we returned home from hospital I felt positive about continuing the mixed feeding. I even sourced a breast pump to try and produce more milk. Again though, pumping for twenty minutes and producing ten or twenty millilitres of milk isn't encouraging especially when you see pics of other mums on social media filling a 150ml bottle from one side!

It didn't take long for my positivity and enthusiasm to decline. The reality of having two newborn babies desperate for your attention often at the same time had me questioning whether breastfeeding was even worth it - not necessarily for them {because you know, we all know breast is best ;)} but for my sanity and health.

When people asked if I was feeding {as in breast feeding} them, my answer was 'kind of'. I was still attempting to let each baby have their 'entree' for one or two feeds a day. Which is seriously next to nothing. The less you feed, the less milk you'll produce and so I was totally self-sabotaging. You see 'kind of' feeding can be likened to that ex boyfriend who you've never quite got over. He is always somewhere in your thoughts and you get tingles whenever you think about him or see his name pop up on social media.

It's been maybe a week since I've breast fed and those tingles are a constant reminder of perhaps what I should be doing. A reminder of the body's ability to feed your baby. And that your body doesn't quit on you as early as you might quit on it.

But you know what? Sometimes it just doesn't work the way that nature intended. And that is totally okay.

The real-life mum queen herself, Constance Hall gave a shout out to formula feeding mums in a week where breastfeeding mums are officially being celebrated. Respect to these words:

Formula feeding mums.I started full time formula feeding the twins at around 5 months and guess what? It's no joy ride either.
In fact, in some ways it's harder then breast feeding. Making milk, cleaning bottles. That's not fun.

Formula feeding certainly isn't the easy way out at all.
It's expensive.
It's tiring.
It's an option that can lead to judgement.

Oh god, now reading this I wonder whether I should reconsider my choice.

There's that mum guilt for you.

In the end, #fedisbest.

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