September 17, 2014

FIAO 5.4 - Feeding The Twins - Exclusively Pumping for Newborn Twins: How I Get It Done and Stay Sane!

It's time to admit that I am exclusively pumping for the girls. We're 7 weeks in and they're clearly not interested in nursing for whatever reason. I have joined a few great support communities online that have helped me learn so much. It's tough but we get it done.

It was definitely interesting in the beginning. For those first few days both CJ and I were home and so we just tag teamed them. We had also learned a lot in the NICU, specificially how best to burp and tips on keeping them eating. And then he went back to work and I was on my own. I usually do 3-4 feedings on my own depending on their sleep schedule.  Although we tried desperately to stick to their NICU schedule in which they were half an hour apart, they quickly figured out that no one likes to eat alone so they've been tandem fed ever since. I also tried to pump before or after feeding them like I used to do in the NICU but it gets in the way of precious awake time so now I do it all at the same time. Sounds crazy right?

Here's how we stay sane while exclusively pumping for and feeding twins:

Hands-Free System and Pumpin' Pals: 

The one thing that makes EPing for twins so much easier is a hands-free system such as a bra, or necklace to hold the pumping parts while you hold the bottles and feed baby. I used the Simple Wishes Bra until I got my hands on a Simplicity necklace from Lactamed. This way I can pump while I hold the bottles, burp them and comfort them. I can also massage and compress while pumping which really helps empty. I also discovered the wonders of Pumpin' Pals. These angled breast pump flanges have been life changing in terms of helping me empty faster and with less pain. There is a learning curve and your body needs to adjust to the different feeling of the pump but they have cut my pumping time down to just 35 minutes from over 50 and I still get the same amount, if not more.

Feeding and Pumping Central

I have taken over the corner of the couch and turned it into feeding and pumping central. Everything I need is within reach and so far it's been working really well. The aim is to be able to sit down and not have to move for at least 45 minutes unless it's an emergency (bathroom trips count as emergencies in this case). Here's how to set up your own Feeding and Pumping Central:

    Pumping/Feeding Central
  • Within arm's reach have a huge box of bibs and burp cloths, your pump, TV and Xbox remotes, computer and a TV table for snacks and water. I repurposed my hospital survival kit box into my pumping essentials box which includes coconut oil, tissues, nursing pads, hand sanitizer, lotion, my hands-free kit, prenatal vitamins, tums, pen and paper and books.      

  • Each twin gets a boppy pillow to sit in, a burp cloth, bib and blanket, plus an extra one for me. For burping while tandem feeding we drape them over the side of the boppy or alternate holding them.  I put bottles on the table while they're warming and again while burping.

  • I have a bag under the table with diaper supplies in it including wipes, a waterproof mat, diapers, cream and a thermometer. I also have my bag of spare pumping supplies as well as their baby books, all the papers from the hospital, camera and kindle chargers and our camera and camcorder.  Considering I spend over an hour in this spot every 3 hours all day and night it's incredibly helpful to have everything within arm's reach.

Prepare before you do anything! 

I bring the bottles out and put them on the table, place each baby on the floor in front of me, grab some toys for them for when they finish and then put them in the boppies one at a time. I hook up to and turn on the pump, dry off the bottles and start to feed them. Most of the time I can get through  two let-downs before someone needs to be held and at this point they still fit in between the pumping flanges. When they're done I play with the toys with them, talk to or sing to them while I finish pumping then unhook, put them back on the floor and go put my milk away then it's playtime until they go to sleep and we do it all over again in an hour and a half!


So that's how it's done! The first few weeks were full of frustrations figuring out how best to pump, trying to organize this spot and making feedings easier on us. I've now mastered the pump got most feedings down to less than 30 minutes combined and I usually pump for 45 minutes. So far I am producing between 40 and 50 oz a day.  I have a freezer stash for the holdover from when I supplemented earlier on, as the girls are currently eating 56 oz. combined. I am trying to up my supply (eating tons of oatmeal, drinking mother's milk tea and having a dark beer a few nights a week).

There is one thing about all of this bugs me though: not being able to hold them when I feed them because they always want to eat at the same time.  That's why pumping during feedings is so important to me.I am able to get in lots of snuggles and playtime before and after each feeding with each girl. I try to spend some time with them on my chest together or skin to skin as often as their moods allow. Sometimes it's just up, eat and back to sleep and sometimes it's scream, eat, scream, but we're definitely getting into a groove where everyone is happy and satisfied each time!

Did you breastfeed, pump or formla feed? How did you get it done with two and keep your sanity?


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