Saturday, August 21, 2010

Feeding Twins

Ever since the day I found out that we were having twins, I've had a million thoughts and even fears run through my mind. One of my biggest concerns was, "How will I feed two babies?"

With Luke, I had no real obligations minus keeping our apartment somewhat clean, doing the laundry as needed, and cooking meals. Truth be told, Lee was fine with it not being perfect, helping with the laundry, and eating out more. I could just spend all day figuring things out, nursing him, getting him on a schedule, and working around that. Luckily he had no trouble nursing and I had so much milk I was able to pump the same amount he ate and store for later. I had time to do all of those things. When he went on formula, I had time to make bottles, handwash bottles, and keep up with all of the stuff that it required. It was pretty easy to be honest.

This time, there are two babies with two separate sets of needs, an almost 5 year old with his set of needs, a husband with his set of needs, and a household of tasks that need to be done, not to mention being on a budget (we didn't have to do that back when Luke was a baby). I know I am going to be pulled in a million directions 24 hours a day. To be honest, it really freaks me out. One baby/kid has been pretty easy (well at least really doable). I was a little scared to have the 2nd and once I found out it was the 2nd and 3rd, I was overwhelmed instantly.

So I have researched all of the options with feeding twins. There are a myriad of ways to do it. Who knew?

Method #1 - Exclusively tandem nurse the babies
This method means nursing both of the babies all of the time and at the same time. In a perfect world, this method would work 100% of the time. Both babies would go right on everytime and eat together and be super happy. But of course we don't live in a perfect world. One baby might latch while the other struggles. One might eat fast while the other eats slow. Or both could not latch. That's when you move onto other methods.

Method #2 - Exclusively nurse one baby at a time
This method means you wake and feed one baby while the other still sleeps. When you are done, you wake and feed the other baby. They are on a staggered schedule, meaning you have less time with both sleeping. This method could be very hard considering babies sleep only a couple of hours at a time so you really only get 1 1/2 hours of time (if you are lucky) during the day. That could be difficult with Luke to take care of and all the other things I have to do.

Method #3 - Both babies eat at the same time - one nurses and one gets a bottle of breastmilk
This method means you feed them both at the same time, but you only nurse one and the other gets a bottle of breastmilk. When you are done, you have to pump for the next feeding. You alternate which baby gets the breast and which one gets the bottle. You could also do this with formula if you don't wish to pump. This means you are nursing, pumping, and making and cleaning bottles which would probably be a good amount of work.

Method #4 - Both babies eat at the same time - exclusively pump and feed bottles
This method means that you feed them both at the same time, but you give them both bottles of pumped breastmilk. When you are done (or at some point every few hours), you have to pump for the next feeding. I've heard a lot of people use this method because it cuts down on worrying about latching and anyone can give the bottles. This might be a great way to include Lee and Luke in the process and maybe give me a little bit of a break. Plus going out would be easier (I don't nurse in public - not that I have anything against it, I just don't feel comfortable doing it myself).

Method #5 - Both babies eat the same time - give them bottles of breastmilk and formula
This method means that you feed them both at the same time, but you give them bottles of breastmilk and formula. When you are done (or at some point every few hours), you have to pump for the next feeding. Again, this is a popular method because you can just pump, add whatever formula you need, feed the babies, and clean up the mess. Again, others can be involved in the feeding process more.

Method #6 - Both babies eat at the same time - give them formula bottles
This method means that you feed them both at the same time, but you give them both bottles of formula. No breastfeeding, no pumping. You just make the bottles, feed them, and clean the bottles. This would definitely be an easy, but expensive method as formula is expensive especially for two.

After much research and thinking of what would be best for our family, I have ruled out the staggered schedule. I want both babies to eat, play, and sleep on the same schedule. This will give me more time with Luke, Lee, for myself, and to get all the other things done I need to get done, not to mention one of my favorite things, SLEEP.

God willing I have a good supply, I am not going to go the all formula method. It would cost $200-300 a month for formula for two babies. That is a good chunk of money.

I also don't think I will want to nurse one while the other has a bottle as that means I have to nurse and prop a bottle (or have Luke feed them - which that novelty will probably wear off fast), then pump (while Luke and the babies stay occupied), make a bottle for the next feeding, and clean the bottles and pumping supplies. That seems like a lot of work and not very realistic.

So I am down to exclusively tandem nursing, exclusively pumping and giving them bottles, or giving them bottles of breastmilk and formula as a supplement. I am not really sure which method I will be using as I haven't had the babies yet, I just know which methods I prefer and which ones I don't (at least on paper).

I think I will start with exclusively tandem nursing and work really hard at getting that method to work. I will have help for at least 5 weeks so Luke and the house will be covered and I can focus on the babies and sleep more. I am motivated to do this method as it is the cleanest (no washing bottles and pumping supplies) and pretty simple (just get the babies on and you are good to go). I still might pump if I have extra though like I did with Luke so they have access to breastmilk longer.

If I find that this method doesn't work or is just too difficult, then I will exclusively pump and make bottles. I will work on pumping on a schedule so I keep my milk supply up. If I have to, I will supplement with formula. Down the road, I imagine I will be doing all formula but my goal will be to put that off as long as possible.

This is my plan. I would love your prayers that exclusively tandem nursing works (at least for awhile). Either way, I would love your prayers that I just go with what works best for our family overall. It's not about me, or the babies, or anyone in particular. It's about our family as a whole. My prayer is that every decision (for the babies or otherwise) would #1 glorify God and #2 work for our family as a unit, not just individual parts.


  1. i know you didn't ask for my advice, but since I have nursed twins, and had trouble in the beginning and pumped and did bottles I thought that I would give you a heads up.

    you should do whatever it takes to make tandem nursing work. three months worth of work is worth the 9 months or longer of successfully tandem nursing.

    hire a lactation consultant, take supplements, do whatever it takes... it is the easiest...

  2. Thanks Sarah. I always love advice, especially from people who've been there and done it. I am definitely going to give it all I have, especially while I have help. In the first 2 1/2 months of their life, I will have help for 65 days, so I think it will be really good. I am definitely not the type to give up easily. I just like knowing what other people have done that has worked or not worked. Obviously everyone is different and some people have different situations, families, and personalities. I am just hoping that the exclusive tandem nursing goes well. Like Lee and I have discussed, we will figure things out as we need to, just like everything in life, right? ;) I hope you and your family are doing well. :)

  3. Hi Ashley! I have no idea how you mulitple moms do it, but I can say that nursing has gotten way easier with each baby. Alex I only nursed for 7 months, Ella was 1 year and Abigail is still going strong at 7 1/2 months. I also pumped a lot with Alex and almost none with Abigial, it's just not worth the extra time and dishes :) Also, I rarely nursing in public with Alex and Ella. It seemed akward and I just didn't enjoy it. Now, with Abigail, I nurse her all over the place. I bought one of those nursing covers and used it from the start. She doesn't mind at all and then all I have to do is make sure it's in the diaper bag and I don't have to think about anything else feeding related!

    Good luck on your last few weeks, I can't believe it's that close! No matter how you choose to feed them your kiddos will all know mommy is there and loves them :)