Share your experence - Rhiann's Story (twins!)
I was lucky enough to have a lovely home water birth with my son – encouraged by my friend and midwife Anne. I remember holding our son in my arms having prepared so well for the birth thinking – well how on earth do I start breastfeeding?!? I guess all my reading efforts had concentrated on getting through the birth – but somehow I didn’t remember the bit in antenatal classes about breastfeeding. The lovely student midwife latched Jasper on for me and I somehow fumbled my way through the next 24hrs at home! Fortunately for me my younger sister then came to stay she was currently training to be a midwife and spent the next few days showing me what to do!
The days turned into weeks and I remember my lovely midwife Anne scalding me for suggesting I use the formula cartons in the cupboard (which I stocked up on pre-birth on advice of well meaning friends!) – ‘but it feels like there’s no milk there!!’ I remember saying to her – Anne simply replied ‘don’t worry Jasper is just cluster feeding trust me your milk supply will catch up!’
Later on Anne helped diagnose ductal thrush which was so painful - I spent months battling with it mainly getting through feeds by taking painkillers. Fortunately at around the 6 month mark I finally experience the joy of pain free feeding! I continued to feed Jasper to 12months then stopped mainly due to me returning to work – I am a development chemist and as my job entailed handling chemicals I really didn’t want to risk them being transferred to my milk!
I was so lucky to have the support of my midwife Anne, my sister and the local Breast feeding support group and friends and peer supporters I met through our local NCT groups. Looking back as a first time mother I realise that I could quite easily have had a different outcome with regards breastfeeding my son without such good support.
My story continues - this time last year I was pregnant again – great I thought I’ll breastfeed this baby again too – I was really looking forward to the bonding and pleasure of getting to know my new baby. However in January 2010 I went for my 12week scan...........
I was carrying twins!!!! – but why on earth should that change my decision to breastfeed?!? I set about getting some well informed advice from breastfeeding peer supporters and reading a LLL publication called ‘mothering multiples’ I was more determined than ever that I was going to succeed in breastfeeding twins – I so wanted to give my babies the same as I had given Jasper.
As my due date approached I began to get very nervous about the possibility of the babies being born premature and problems that could arise from them not being able to feed. At 37wks I began expressing and freezing some small amount of colostrum – there was no way these babies were going to be given formula if I was not able to feed.
On 1st August 2010 (my birthday) my waters broke aided my my toddler jumping on me. My beautiful twins were born on 2nd August at 38+4wks. Anabelle born at 1.28am and Xavier at 1.44am.
But that was just the beginning of my breastfeeding journey with my twins. Only a few hours after birth Anabelle was really starting to hurt me when she fed – I knew something wasn’t quite right -the hospital infant feeding coordinators discovered she was tounge-tied. And later when Xavier couldn’t latch I also discovered he was also tounge-tied (I was so glad I had some expressed colostrums to give to him.)
I battled through the next few days at home with the twins - again relying on the fantastic support of my midwife Anne and close friends – both the twins were making me so sore due to their tounge-tie I had horrible blisters on both nipples. I even resorted to expressing the odd feed for them just to give myself a break. Fortunately my pregnancy research and reading helped me through difficulties arising from post delivery swelling too which made latching near impossible. At 10 days old both Anabelle and Xavier had their tounge tie snipped. Feeding became much easier after that – and I finally mastered tandem feeding!
My twins are now will be 5 months old on 2nd January and I am loving our breastfeeding relationship – but it has not been without other difficulties including thush, mastitis, severe plugged ducts and pores – all going hand in hand with my body incredibly adapting to produce just the right amount of milk for my babies. Breastfeeding gives me that special time with each of them individually which I really cherish. Not to mention the really unique way that they interact – be it by holding hands or fighting whilst they tandem feed. I honestly think that if it wasn’t for me Breastfeeding I would never get out of the house!
One of my biggest supporters for breastfeeding has actually my Dad. He always makes makes me smile with his analogies – quite frequently comparing me to a lactating sow (His outdoor pig farming days never forgotten!). But he really does appreciate the physical demands that come with breastfeeding especially in the next month or too before they wean – Remembering how tired my mother used to be when she fed my siblings and me.
I am sure that my breastfeeding journey with Anabelle and Xavier will throw yet more challenges as they grow but I relish every moment! And I take great delight in correcting many assuming health professionals who are all too quick to assume that my twins are either formula fed/ combination fed.
Having faced the challenges with shear determination I realise that there is not always good support available to breastfeeding mothers – I have seen too many friends reluctantly giving up breastfeeding due to lack of support or as a result of not particularly helpful information. My experience has made me determined to help other mums who are struggling and I am due to train as a peer supporter in the new year.
I often wonder what the outcome would have been had I given that formula sitting in my kitchen cupboard..............................