Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Breastfeeding Twins, A mother's journey.

Guest Post by Amanda

At just 10 weeks pregnant, I found out I was expecting twins. The hubby and I were shocked but super excited to be blessed with two. My pregnancy, although uncomfortable, went by without a hitch. I was always in perfect health at every doctor’s appointment and the twins were growing perfectly. True to my public health background I had no doubt that I would breastfeed my twins. I read everything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding twins. I bought the My Brest Friend nursing pillow for twins and registered for a double electric breast pump. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

The twins were delivered via c-section at 36 weeks gestation because they were both in the breech position. I gave birth to identical twin boys who we named Noah and Eli. The excitement of the twins’ arrival was quickly replaced with fear when we found out that Eli was born with a tracheosophageal fistula and esophageal atresia. Basically, his esophagus and trachea formed incorrectly. His esophagus didn’t connect to his stomach and there was a connection between his esophagus and trachea. He underwent surgery to repair his esophagus and trachea when he was just one day old.

After surgery Eli remained in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for 6 weeks. He had some serious complications following his surgery. He spent 3 long weeks on the ventilator. After coming off the vent I was finally able to hold him for the first time. He also began eating 5 milliliters of breastmilk every 3 hours. I spent a lot of my time pumping so Eli could get as much breastmilk as possible. After being on a ventilator for 3 weeks Eli had a serious oral aversion and hated anything being put in his mouth. It was painstakingly hard to get him to suck and drink even 5mLs of breastmilk. At this point in time, attempting to breastfeed him wasn’t even an option.
Noah came home from the hospital after 2 weeks in the NICU. With no serious health complications I was able to begin breastfeeding him while he was in the NICU. However, because he was born early, he wasn’t quite strong enough to latch on and suck well. With all that was going on with Eli, I breastfed Noah when I could, but we ended up having to supplement his diet with formula.

Whenever things seemed to be getting better with Eli, a new problem would emerge. Due to the complications he had following surgery, Eli developed kidney damage. Now it was even more important that he get as much breastmilk as possible. He still refused to latch so I continued to pump and bring bottles to the NICU. It was difficult for me because I wasn’t able to pump enough milk to feed 2 babies. I struggled with depriving Noah of the precious breastmilk in order to give Eli as much as I possibly could.

Eli came home from the hospital when he was 6 weeks old. I tried over and over to get him to latch on and breastfeed, but he would arch his back and scream bloody murder. It was so upsetting to me that he wouldn’t breastfeed. I breastfed Noah during the night and continued to pump every few hours so I could have bottles for Eli. For 6 months I pumped and supplemented the twins’ diet with formula. This was such a trying time in my life, but I did the best I could to get at least some breastmilk into my babies. At 6 months, my mom lost her battle with cancer and pumping became too much for me to handle.

I still wish I was able to breastfeed the twins exclusively.  I  did the best that I could with my circumstances. I am happy that I didn’t give up sooner and that they at least received some breastmilk for the first 6 months of their lives. I know that some breastmilk is better than no breastmilk. They are now thriving 3 year olds, and looking at Eli, you wouldn’t even know he had such a tough beginning. I am also now successfully breastfeeding my 8 month old daughter and loving every minute of it.

Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of 3 year old, identical, twin boys and a beautiful, 8 month old, baby girl. She is a new found cloth diaper addict who also enjoys sewing and crocheting when the kids aren't climbing all over her. She married an amazing man and enjoys living two houses away from her in-laws. Amanda has a degree in Public Health Education from Brigham Young University. She started blogging to keep her family updated on the crazy and cute things her kids are up to.  You find her at The Duke Family blog.


  1. What a beautiful post! Congratulations on three lovely kids, and all your successes!

    I know how blessed I am that my fraternal twins were full term and vertex, making the start to our breastfeeding relationship so much easier than I had feared when I first found out we were having twins. Mama's who pump for their NICU babies are my heros. I can only imagine how challenging it would be to stay on track with pumping while dealing with medical concerns.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! It is encouraging to hear how hard you worked while i'm in the thick of it myself! So glad that the 2nd..or 3rd time around is going much better!

  3. Even though I was reading your blog during this time it was still really neat to hear you re-tell it regarding all your struggles with breastfeeding. It put it in a new light. I can't imagine all that you went through during the first year of your babies lives but I am amazed. Great article!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
    I am sure a lot of mothers will benefit from it.