Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm abusing my Twins!!!

And by my Twins,
I don't mean mah babies.
I'm taking 'bout mah tatas.
Boy, am I abusing them!

I'm going to try to post as much as my memory allows me to in regards to breastfeeding/pumping. Well, in my case its mainly pumping. In the beginning I did tandem breastfeed them (both at the same time). It was easier than I thought it would be. But then I was lucky because neither gave me any issues latching on... until Noah went to NICU. After he got out, he wouldn't latch on and that kind of killed the breastfeeding buzz. Besides I have to give him bottle 6 times a day for him to get his medication. I did continue to breastfeed Natalia though... until she got so used to it that it was all she wanted ALL day long. This wouldn't have been a problem if I didn't have another baby to take care of so I had to stop and turn to exclusively pumping. I still attempted to continue doing it during the non-medicated feedings once in a while and I did get Noah to latch on but he did not stay on for more than ten minutes and Natalia immediately goes back to crying for my boobs ALL day long, so I think I'm done trying that.

Unfortunately, I do have to supplement with formula. I make almost enough milk for one baby but not both. My dreams of being an over supplier did not come true... though it probably would have if I knew certain things before I gave birth (yes, I will share). I was so confident that I would have no problem breastfeeding or have low milk supply issues that I did not read up on anything related to the subject beforehand. BIG MISTAKE. If I can help at least one person with this post then I would have made up for my stupidity. Well, I probably wouldn't really make up for it but I'm trying to brainwash my guilt away. I also wanted to do this post because surprisingly a lot of these tips you don't come across unless you are looking for the specific problem, which obviously at that point its a little late. Okay, ready? Lets do this...

Breastfeeding Twins:
This will be short because my time doing it was short. You are warned.
There are breastfeeding pillows specifically for twins, the most popular ones are "EZ 2 Nurse Twins Nursing Breastfeeding pillow" and "My Brest Friend Twins plus". I got a less expensive version from Amazon and I'm glad I did because it worked perfectly and well I'm not using it anymore. This being said you don't really need to buy one, you could just prop pillows on either side of you and you are good to go. It really isn't that much different. I'm not getting into details on the how-to because its long and its easier to see on a video so if you are interested just CLICK HERE and enjoy!

Pumping and bringing up supply
Now, this is where things get interesting. I can only share what was helpful to me but I'm sure there are a lot more tips out there that I just haven't read. It's not too easy to come across info on this, yes there is a lot out there, but you really have to dig to find. Mainly you have to know what you are looking for in order to find out about it, which isn't helpful if you've never done this before and don't know what to look for to begin with. The best website I found was, it has information about everything but like I said you have to dig for it... unless you have time to read the whole thing then you clearly don't have your baby yet =). I also found information on, (whom you can contact for support), and These are the most helpful tips I found: (Funny enough, I always did my research on my cell while pumping)

  1. First, you have to know this is a big commitment. It's not easy. It's tiring. It can be painful from the soreness. And it takes away from what little time you have for yourself. I definitely understand why so many women quit doing this. That being said, so far "quiting" is not in my vocabulary. I'm doing this and even when my supply was low I kept at it and increased it. I keep telling myself that I will not go down without a fight, so far it has worked.
  2. Supply and demand. The more you demand from your body the more it should produce. Not everyone will be able to increase supply or make any milk no matter what you do because of the way our bodies are. Luckily we live in times where formula is advanced and we can confidently feed our babies with it.
  3. Feed and pump a lot. If you are doing both, the best thing to do is to pump for 10 to 15 minutes after you breastfeed. You are telling your body to make more.
  4. Pump 6 to 12 times per day. Every 2 to 3 hours, especially in the first weeks. Basically, you are pumping as many times as your baby would have normally been at your breast. Again, this is telling your body to make more. I did not know this. I pumped twice a day in the beginning and my body just didn't know it had to make way more milk. I figured things out when they were already 4 weeks, better late than never. I will never get back those days so I will never know how much my body was actually capable of producing. Yes, you can increase it after but the first weeks are crucial.
  5. You should pump at least for 10 minutes. 15 minutes is better. But no more than 20 minutes. I sometimes do go over if milk is still coming out. I used to pump for 30 minutes in the beginning but for some reason its not good, I honestly forgot why.
  6. When your milk flow stops, continue for an extra 5 minutes to let your body know that you need more. (This contradicts the above tip if you've already pumped for 20 minutes, no? I found it so I'm sharing it)
  7. Drink lots of water, at least 64oz per day.
  8. Have a healthy balanced diet. Eat lots of protein. Be careful with too much veggies so you don't make yourself and baby gassy.
  9. Do not go on a diet, it will affect your supply. You are supposed to eat extra without worrying because the pumping will burn the calories away. I'm not sure about this, I don't eat extra but I'm not losing any weight, when I upped my intake of calories I gained weight and it did nothing to increase my supply. This is just my experience so don't go by it, I'm just sharing my bad luck =(
  10. Eat oatmeal. Not the instant ones. Most women have it for breakfast every morning, some have it twice a day. Also you can make oatmeal cookies and snack throughout out the day, yum!
  11. Drink beer. Seriously. You can drink with or without alcohol, the yeast or barley in it is a big booster, plus it relaxes you and helps that way too. You shouldn't go over 2 beers per day, don't worry it shouldn't affect your milk or the baby. I have not done this, I can't really believe the alcohol doesn't affect the baby and I'm not a big fan of beer.. now if it was wine... then maybe lol
  12. Ovaltine is also supposed to be good. I'm not sure if it really helps or not but I drink it every so often to "trick" my boobs and to satisfy a little sweet tooth.
  13. Massage your breast while pumping. You will get a lot more milk. I didn't know this. I, like many others, thought that the pump alone will do the job. Not true! Massage those bad girls! I've gotten double what I would normally get by only pumping. If I knew this in the beginning it most likely would have helped build up my supply more since I would have emptied my breast more.
  14. Put a warm towel/rag over your breast while pumping to help release more. I haven't done this, I really do not have an extra 2 minutes to get a warm towel, I'm not even kidding.
  15. Get a double electric pump. Faster and more effective. If not you can nurse baby on one boob and pump the other breast and switch sides for next feeding.
  16. I have the Medela Pump In Style Advance pump so I can only give you a review on this one. Its good, its one of the best ones to buy but there is definitely a big difference between this and the hospital grade pump. It seems to be the most  popular one,I like it and do recommend it..... but.....
  17. Did you know that you can actually get a prescription from your doctor for a hospital grade pump? As far as I read, most insurances should cover it or at least part of it. I would recommend you call your insurance up and find out if they do before you go spending money on either buying or renting a pump, they are very very pricey. (Now, this is one of those pieces of info that is hard to come across and is so helpful, I'm upset I didn't know it before)
  18. Even if you have your own pump, you can rent (or call in a prescription) for a hospital grade one to help bring up your supply. Use it for a week or so and it should bring and keep it up. I have not done this, if I try it, I will let you know.
  19. The pump setting does NOT have to be on the highest level. If you are in pain you wont relax enough to let down a lot of milk. Comfort is key.
  20. You can put Lansinoh on the nipples before pumping, its safe and helps avoid soreness.
  21. Or you can use olive oil on the nipples instead, works the same and its antibacterial.
  22. Rest up, the more rest you get the more milk you'll let down. Stress really affects it.
  23. When I'm done pumping, I wait 10 minutes and I pump again. I usually get about an ounce more.
  24. When you feel like your supply is weaning or if you are still working on increasing you can do "power pump", or do a Pump-a-thon (pump marathon, in case you didn't figure it out)
  25. Power pump is when you pump for 10 minutes on and off for an hour. Personally, I go for 1 1/2 hour because I find that I still have milk. And if I'm even more honest, I do 15 minutes off and on. I just can't stop if I see milk flowing.
  26. You can also power pump while watching TV by pumping during the show and take break during the commercials.
  27. Pump-a-thon is when you pump every 2 hours for 24 hours straight. Some women do it for a whole weekend.
  28. You can also pump 10 minutes per hour for 4 hours straight. Morning is best, this is when most women have the most milk.
  29. Get extra parts for the pump.
  30. Keep the parts clean! Wash them immediately after each pump so the milk doesn't get hard in it. Separate each part (very important) and wash in warm soapy water... or..
  31. You can keep the breast pump parts in the refrigerator in a Ziploc bag so you don't have to wash after each pump. I tried this and it works fine but I do have 3 different sets of parts so I wash after each pump. I just can't leave it in the refrigerator, it bothers me. But it works. And I'll probably do this when I go back to work.
  32. Also, keep pump clean. The top face of my Medela comes right off. Clean with baby wipe and make sure the whole face snaps back on. Sometimes, this part losens up, if you feel less suction, you have to snap it off and again make sure all four points are snapped in.
  33. Call manufacturer of pump if you think there is a problem. Mine was giving me issues I called and they helped troubleshoot it on a weekend when they were closed. The Medela assistant called me from her personal cell to help me out. Gotta love it.
  34. For storage, if you are lucky to be an over supplier and are able to freeze milk (I don't like you), you can use Glad (most recommended) freezer bags. The "special" bags that are sold for freezing breast milk are expensive and these do the job just the same. Just make sure you write when you pumped and how many ounces are inside.
  35. Don't microwave breast milk. Let it sit in warm water so you don't kill off the nutrients.
  36. Don't shake breast milk. I didn't know this. It also damages the nutrients, the milk is composed of live cells so you want to be careful with it. Just swirl gently when warming it.
  37. Invest in a hands free pumping bra/bustier. I just got mine a week 1/2 ago and I love it. I get to free up my time because I'm able to pump and feed the babies simultaneously. I got the "Simple Wishes Hands Free Bustier" but there are other brands. Most women go on the Internet while pumping to relax and help time fly.
  38. You can pump while driving. Many moms pump on their way and from work. They use the handsfree bustier and cover themselves up. I'm not sure how this will work nor am I sure I will try it but I am curious.
  39. If you are away from baby, look at their picture while pumping and/or a blanket with their scent. Apparently this helps, I can't say either way.
  40. For plugged ducts (I haven't had this) you can place raw grated potatoes on your breast covered with towel until it dries.
  41. Or you can take Lecithin to treat plugged ducts.
  42. There are teas and supplements to increase milk supply. Mother's milk tea is popular but I don't think it makes much difference unless you drink a LOT throughout your day and it doesn't taste good. Fenugreek and Motherlove More Milk Plus are supposed to be the best. I'm taking both and I've seen an increase of about 2 extra ounces per day. Most women take one or the other by itself and swear they get extra 5 ounces per session, some get even more (I don't like them).
  43. There are drugs also to increase milk supply. You can get Reglan to help but it has a side effect of depression, no thank you. Also there is a drug called Domperidone that from what I've read, works for every single woman that have tried it BUT its not sold in the US. Most get it from online pharmacies from Canada, no prescriptions needed. I can't take this because of my pituitary tumor but I would so have been taking it if I could.
  44. The amount you pump can vary throughout the day. Most get more milk in the mornings.
  45. The normal amount to pump is 1/2 to 2 ounces per session NOT per breast. According to most women think it should 4 to 8 ounces but even 4 ounces is a large amount and is considered an oversupply. Ummm, yeah I pump between 2 and 4 ounces per session and I think its not enough. I know its not enough. I need to make for 2 babies and I want to be able to freeze some but nope, not happening...... Yet. I'll keep trying.
  46. (update) After you finish pumping you can get some more milk by hand expressing. I've tried it but I don't get much, maybe I'm just not good at it yet, I can tell you that it definitely works when I'm full. Oh, and I would recommend expressing into the opening of the collecting bottle instead, less messy. Here is a video link that shows how to do it: Click me!
I think I'm done. I wish I knew someone who knew all these tips ahead of time but almost no one writes about it and quite frankly I'm mad at them, whoever "them" are. If you find a page that lists any 10 of these tips in one shot let me know so I can read it while I kill myself. I've researched many many many websites to get these tips so I hope you find it helpful that I'm sharing. If not, I'm mad at you too. By the way, there are more but I can't remember them all and I haven't read them all either but TRUST me this is a very good list.

I make a sad amount of 17 ounces per day so far. I've increased it from 12 ounces. How? Mainly by seriously abusing my tatas. Pumping some days up to 10 times have helped while making me very sore. The More Milk Plus and Fenugreek have given me about an extra 2 ounces... its not a lot but I'll take it. I've made a commitment and I'm sticking to it. They need the best I can offer (especially Noah) and I'll give it to them as long as I can. Since I bought the hands free pumping bustier I've saved a lot of time.

For "Powerofwater" I actually just read your comment when I came to write this post, I hope it helps, if not let me know and I'll email you if you have any questions and congrats on  your twins! Here is a pic of my station:

I sit in the middle of the boppies, I can change diaper, pump and feed at the same time. And watch listen to TV (this part is for my sanity). How on earth can I do it? Well, it takes a lot of practice but once you get used to it, its pretty easy. My biggest help is that I prop the bottles like this:

I use towels or blankets to keep the bottles up. Please do not flame me for doing this, I am sitting right in front of them and I'm able to burp one baby while the other one still feeds. It saves a lot of time. It may be selfish but imagine feeding one baby after the other when each feeding takes an hour and they eat every 3 hours and I have to pump, it will be an all day thing with absolutely no rest. For twins the most important advice I can give is to get them on the same schedule or you will never EVER have the time to even pee. Trust me I know, I tried it. Even with this, my time is very little but either its getting easier or I'm getting used to it, I don't know. All I know is that my babies are loved and are being taken cared of, they are happy and I'm happy. You can also just hold the bottles to both of them like Jeff does (this kills my back). The downside is that while he burps one baby the other one cries for more food but this is what works for him. Again in the end, they get fed, they are happy and he is happy... and I'm even happier because if that's going on, it means I'm sleeping!


  1. You are right, breastfeeding/nursing tips are hard to come by. My daughter is 3 1/2 weeks old and I returned to work 3 weeks ago. I had started pumping before my return to work to build up my supply and now I pump twice a day while I'm at work. In the beginning I got about 11 oz over 2 pumps but now it has decreased to a total of 8 oz. I was devastated by the drop. Your comment that 4 oz total per pump is a lot makes me feel a lot better. Nonetheless, I will be adding Fenugreek back into my repertoire. (I took it in the beginning before my milk came in.)

    BTW, your babies are adorable!

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. I am expecting twin boys in March and plan to pump and hope to make enough for them.

    All of this advice is really great and helpful, and I am printing this out and putting it in my hospital bag to remind me!

    Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to think about help new moms to be like myself, who surely will benefit from this!

  3. Thanks for this! Although I'm not currently pregnant, I am wanting to breastfeed when I have kids of my own. In my ignorance, I'd always thought that breast feeding would just come naturally - no problems at all. This was enlightening, easy to understand and apply, and real. And something I may bookmark so that I can come back for future reference.

    PS - I'm sooo happy for you and your hubby! Natalia and Noah are positively precious!

  4. Nursing has been the hardest part of this whole parent thing for me! I can't tell you the amount of tears I've shed over my frustrations. That being said, I did order domperidone and it DOES work! Because of it, I've been able to breastfeed for 7 months, however since it's so expensive, I'm in the process of weaning. We'll probably be done breastfeeding in a week or so :( But yes, I have to agree...there is a SERIOUS lack of information for expectant moms who want to nurse. We took a class and looking back it did nothing to prepare me.

  5. First of all, you deserve some SERIOUS applause for persevering through it all. I had a very hard time during the first few months, and I only have ONE child, so I can only imagine! It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it is SO SO worth it. It takes some serious determination and self-sacrifice to do what you are doing. So just keep pushing through! It will get so much easier and you'll be so glad you kept working at it.

    One more tip I wish I'd known (and I only found this out recently, though my daughter is now almost 18 months!) is that most women can hand express a bit more milk after the pump is no longer getting any. Just pull off the shield and bottle when you're done pumping on one side and then try hand expressing into it afterwards.

    Good luck with everything - you are doing GREAT!!!

  6. Thanks so much for all these tips..I will be printing off your post...I have a feeling I will have low supply since I have several strikes against me so I will start eating my oatmeal now and do some of your other tips right from the start:)

  7. Anonymous,
    Yes! thanks for reminding me about hand expression. I forgot to write about it, I even a have a video link. I'm going to update the post to include this =)

  8. Shanny, you are amazing!! Thanks for sharing these tips! Did you have a lac consultant at your hospital when you had your twins? I did and was able to have them hound me (sorta in a nice way) to remind me to pump every 2 hours for Brayden while he was in the NICU. I hated them then, but I'm so glad that I did all of that then!

  9. There is a tip I forgot to write about in my comment that I learned from a friend who is a former lactation consultant. She said you could freeze milk in an ice cube tray. Each cube = 1 oz. Then you store the frozen cubes in a Ziploc bag. She recommended using a bag within a bag so you get the double protection the "official" bags provide.

  10. *Ashley- when I was in the hospital, the babies both latched on with no problem so the lactation consultant didn't rush to see me, I saw her the end of my 2nd night. I asked for the pump & she showed me how to use it but never explained that I should be pumping often. Maybe its because the babies were w/me & not in NICU like Brayden, it still would have been nice to know!

    *Lalla- awesome tips, I did read it before but forgot to write it down. Keep them coming if you remember more, thanks!

  11. First of all, hats off to you for having the TIME with TWINS to write this great post.

    Breastfeeding was tough for me supply wise and that was with just a singleton. I applaud all twin mommies who take it on. You are my heros.

    This post will help many a mom!

  12. Shanny, Thanks for responding to my post! I am amazed that you had time to share this info. I didn't know I could be so tired. I started out nursing and pumping every 2 hours - my babies stayed in the room with me the whole time (this was a new policy at the hospital, so I got no sleep even at the hospital) which is why I was so tired when we came home. After that first week I was about to go crazy from exhaustion that I stopped pumping as much. Since we were supplementing formula, it was so easy to do that. I would mix what BM I pumped with the formula, but of course my supply decreased. I could kick myself! Now I only get 1/2 to 1 oz. each time I pump and when they nurse they still act like they are starving. They will be 6 weeks old this Friday and I am giving them 4 to 5 oz. of formula every 3 to 4 hours. I am trying to pump more often and nurse to increase supply, but don't know if it's going to work. I do have them on the same schedule, but I usually feed one at a time. I have tried feeding them in their bouncers at the same time,like Jeff, and one is screaming while I burp one! I did buy the double nursing pillow( was $70 bucks) and have used it to nurse at the same time, and wish I could have enough milk to keep doing it. Just don't know if I can get it back after slacking off for those 3 weeks.
    What formula are you using? We use Similac Sensitive, but they seem to still have so much gas. Sorry for this long post, but they are sleeping and I may not have another chance! It is 3:45 pm here and I just had lunch and have not brushed my teeth all day! I would really like to chat wiht you if we ever have time. Do email me if /when you can. Thanks again for all the info. Take care!

  13. I think you're doing amazing and for what it's worth, I couldn't agree more that exclusively pumping is tough. I do it and have done for all of Olivers 17 weeks and I will confess I'm wiped!

    Point 18: Good one. I rented the Medela Symphony from my health visitor and it was a god send however, trying to soothe a fussy baby whilst hooked up like daisy the cow is not easy!
    I am on the brink of finishing expressing. I pump every 4 hours to match Olivers feeds and get around 23oz a day but it's not enough so he's on 1 bottle of formula.
    I hope you can keep at it and I must say, to express with one baby is one thing.. to do it with twins in the house makes you a superstar in my book! xx

  14. I just thought of two more suggestions from a lactation consultant for those who are breastfeeding and pumping.

    1. Before the first feeding in the morning pump. Your baby is much better at pumping than the machine and will also get what he or she needs. (I've tried this many times and Ariana does always get full. The hard time is waking up before she does to get the pump in.)

    2. While you are nursing, pump the other breast because you get a greater let down while you are nursing. Be sure to alternate the sides on which you nurse and pump.(I've tried this; but it's hard to manage a baby on one side and the pump on the other. But it does work.)

  15. Ohhh ouchhhhh! You are amazing! How do you do it?! Hoping your tatas are feeling better soon, hehe! You deserve the mommy of the year award...seriously!
    Hope you had a happy holiday! xo


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