Krista Gray, IBCLC – Lactation Services

Positioning and attachmentWhether you’re preparing to breastfeed or need support with your current situation, Krista Gray, IBCLC – Lactation Services is here to help.  I am a certified lactation consultant and offer face-to-face and online breastfeeding support (as well as prenatal breastfeeding classes) to assist you in meeting your breastfeeding goals.   I see clients throughout the Upstate of South Carolina and North East Georgia as well as via Skype and FaceTime worldwide.

Lactation Consultations

Initial Consultation
$135 for a 1 – 1 1/2 hour private consultation.  Sometimes you just need that bit of extra support to get breastfeeding off to a good start or to overcome challenges. I can help you reach your personal breastfeeding goals. This visit can take place in your home or my home office.  (Follow-up phone/text/emails for home or office consultations are always free!) Discount for clients who have a prenatal appointment with me.*

Follow Up Consultation
$75 For new concerns and follow up appointments*

Pump Consultation
$60 Heading back to work and want to make sure your pump is working properly? I can help get your pump set up, ensure the flanges are the right size, and share tips and information about maintaining your supply as you return to work.*

Virtual Consultation
$50 I offer virtual breastfeeding consultations worldwide via Skype or FaceTime. (Up to one hour consultation; Payment made via PayPal) 

Telephone/E-mail Consultation
$30 Do you have a specific breastfeeding question? I can discuss this with you on the telephone (up to 30 minute call) or through e-mail.

Monthly Retainer Option
$150 For those who would like me to be available for unlimited calls/texts/emails throughout the month.  There is no limit to how often you can contact me and, if I am not available at the time of a call/email/text I will always respond the same day.

*In home rate applies to homes within 15 miles of 29655 zip code.  Beyond that area, there will be a fuel surcharge and hourly travel fee, which will be quoted at time appointment is made.

*Payment can be made with cash, check, and PayPal.

*Payment is expected at the time services are rendered.  Nursing Nurture does not file insurance on your behalf, but will provide you with an itemized Super Bill for your health insurance provider.

What happens during a consultation? Find out more here.

Download the forms for your breastfeeding consultation.

Learn more about Krista Gray, IBCLC or contact Krista to schedule a lactation consultation. Continue reading »


The Fussy Feeder: My Breastfeeding Journey Continued

Megan Church HeadshotMeagan Church is a writer, children’s book author and the brainpower behind Unexpectant.com, which explores the realities of birth, babies and beyond. She lives in the Midwest with her high school sweetheart, three children, two cats and one dog. Her passions include running, black coffee, and simple, yet intentional living. Connect with her on Twitter @unexpectant or Facebook/unexpectant.

Before the birth of my third child, I had a certain amount of fears that my luck had run out. My first two births had gone well and both babies were excellent nursers. As I prepared for baby number three, I worried that something would go wrong. Would this one end in a c-section? Would I be able to handle natural birth again? What if we encountered nursing problems?

I’m happy to report that despite my concerns, the birth went smoothly. I had a beautiful and quick water birth. Adelyn let out a small cry and then immediately began to fall asleep on my chest. She awoke a few minutes later to breastfeed for the first time. I let out a sigh of relief. Everything seemed to be going smoothly.

While still in the hospital, our doctor mentioned that Adelyn had a slight tongue tie. He said he didn’t think it was a concern because she was nursing fine and she could extend her tongue beyond her lower lip. Soon enough we headed home and all was well. Until she was six weeks old.

When Adelyn hit the six-week mark, something suddenly changed with her feeding. My good, content nurser began to fuss at the breast. I remember the day it first happened. My mom had come to visit. Adelyn was hungry, so I sat down on the couch to breastfeed her. I put a cover over me for privacy, but the baby didn’t seem to like it. She struggled to latch or hold the latch and began to fuss. I decided to move to the privacy of my bedroom where I could take off the cover and better focus on her. I eventually got her to feed and assumed it was a one-time event. Unfortunately it was not.

The next few months were wrought with fussy feeding sessions. It got to the point where I couldn’t sit down with her until letdown occurred. Instead, I would walk, bounce, sing and/or shush her. She’d suckle briefly, unlatch and cry. I’d coax her back on, just to have the cycle repeat itself. Once my milk began to flow, she would nurse just fine and I could sit down. I tried to view these sessions as an extra calorie burn, but I was getting frustrated and began to dread feeding her.

My first two babies fed often and whenever the breast was offered. If we were heading out to dinner or church, I could offer the breast to “top them off.” They always accepted. Adelyn did not. She would only feed when she wanted to and she began spacing her feedings out at an early age. There were days when I was concerned by the fact that my two-month-old (for example) hadn’t fed in six hours. And then when she did seem hungry, it took quite an ordeal to get her to nurse. The quick letdown that I had with my first two suddenly became slow and difficult. There were sessions when I would pump to get my milk flowing and then put her to the breast. But, there were also times when even the pump couldn’t stimulate letdown.

I was becoming exasperated and frustrated. I talked to our doctor and he suggested that I not feed her so often. His assumption was that I was attempting to feed her when she wasn’t in fact hungry. I decided to back off and watch her more closely for hunger cues, but the feedings were still fussy. The good news was that she was gaining weight and growing fine. So, even though she was fussing, she was getting the nutrition she needed.

One day, I finally decided to go to a lactation clinic. I never wanted to deal with the hassle of packing up the baby to head out the door, especially in the winter and when I had two other kids at home. But, one day I finally did it. By the time I arrived, Adelyn was beyond hungry. Unfortunately there was only one consultant there and a line of women in front of me. So, I took my baby to the corner and attempted to nurse her. By the time letdown happened, I was sweating profusely and embarrassed because my screaming child had distracted every other baby from their peaceful feedings.

Finally a consultant came over to me. I explained what our nursing sessions entailed. But, since Adelyn had already eaten, the consultant couldn’t see it in action. Finally she looked at me and said, “Well, some babies are just fussier than others. The good news is that they say fussy babies sometimes grow to be very intelligent.” At that point, I didn’t care if she became the next Einstein. I just wanted to sit down, while nursing my baby. Was that too much to ask?

We continued to struggle for the next few months. I tried different holds and positions, watching her cues more closely, and even relaxation and deep breathing to encourage a speedier letdown. I had gotten into the habit of scrolling through social media on my iPod, while I nursed her. I wondered if I was too distracted by the device, so I put it away and tried concentrating on Adelyn. But, then I would be concentrating too much and I’d start getting upset along with the baby when my letdown didn’t happen right away.

We continued to struggle for a few months, but, just as with my first two, I had a goal in mind: I would nurse Adelyn for her first year. I knew that even though it was frustrating, in the bigger picture, this was a short moment in time. This stage would pass soon enough and I would never be able to return to it again, especially because she is the last baby we plan to have.

Around six or seven months, her feeding did begin to improve. We both continued to hang in there and work our way through it. We still delayed solids with her just as we had done with our first two. She started with finger foods around eight months of age. I was afraid to start her too soon, have her catch on too well and then refuse the breast. Thankfully that didn’t happen.

Unfortunately breastfeeding her never became the beautiful, peaceful experience that I see in so many pictures or that I had with my first two. But, we did make it to our goal. Adelyn weaned around 16 months of age.

Looking back, I wish I would’ve gotten more support from another lactation consultant. Though we muscled through the experience, I wonder if it could’ve been more peaceful had I gotten different support and advice. To this day I wonder if that tongue tie did affect things. Was she not latching properly enough to coax letdown efficiently? Maybe it had more to do with personality. She is definitely a spirited child who lets her opinion be known (for example, she never allowed us to spoon feed her, but finger foods that she could feed herself were acceptable). Couple her personality with the possibility that stress was causing my letdown to slow and maybe it was just a bad combination.

I don’t know what the answer is and maybe I never will, but I do know that even though it wasn’t easy and even though I still struggle when I remember just how exasperated I was at times, I’m glad I kept my eye on the goal. It has been a few months since she weaned and I am so thankful that I nursed her beyond our goal. It may have been a struggle, but I know that it was for a good reason: no other food could nourish and grow her like my breast milk did.


How I Succeeded: My Breastfeeding Journey

Megan Church HeadshotMeagan Church is a writer, children’s book author and the brainpower behind Unexpectant.com, which explores the realities of birth, babies and beyond. She lives in the Midwest with her high school sweetheart, three children, two cats and one dog. Her passions include running, black coffee, and simple, yet intentional living. Connect with her on Twitter @unexpectant or Facebook/unexpectant.

As I discussed in a previous post, I was prepared for cracked nipples and poor latching. But I wasn’t prepared for the mental fortitude that was necessary to reach my breastfeeding goal.

Even though breastfeeding my first two children was more mentally exhausting and demanding of my time than I could’ve predicted, the mechanics of it went smoothly. From the start, both were great nursers with a naturally good latch. I never experienced soreness or difficulties with them. I credit that to a few factors:

Megan Church

Pre-birth education

Knowing I was absolutely clueless about how to breastfeed a baby, I signed up for a class at my local hospital. I took the class, while I was pregnant. This helped me understand what to look for in a proper latch, positioning and more. Sure, it was odd practicing with dolls, but when it came time for the real thing, I at least had some idea of what to do.

Immediate skin-to-skin contact

After my babies were born, they were immediately placed on my chest for skin-to-skin contact. We enjoyed an hour or two together, just getting to know one another without a lot of intrusive examinations getting in the way of the most precious bonding moments. This allowed both babies to root and follow their natural instincts for nourishment and comfort right after birth. I still remember how amazed I was after all three of my babies began to nurse on their own within the first hour of their lives. That wouldn’t have been possible without that skin-to-skin time.

Lactation consultants

Before having a baby, I was a pretty modest person. I wasn’t sure how I would respond to people seeing all sides of my body. But, in the throes of labor, discretion sort of goes out the window. And, I found that to be true, while nursing as well. Our hospital had great lactation consultants on staff who answered any and all questions. They would come watch me breastfeed to make sure the latch was good and that baby was feeding well. As a newbie with no expertise in breastfeeding, this feedback was a beautiful thing.

Supportive husband

I am blessed to have a supportive husband who also believes in the benefits of breastfeeding. After doing our research during pregnancy, we knew we wanted to not only give our babies the most natural entries into the world as possible, but we also wanted them to be nourished by the most natural food possible. He was always a great supporter and, while he might not have gotten to spend time bonding with the babies during feeding sessions, he bonded in many other ways instead (such as middle-of-the-night diaper changes, rocking to sleep, baby wearing and more). He respected the importance of breastfeeding and he’s an encourager for other moms to breastfeed as well.

Examples of others

By the time I had my first child, I had watched both of my sisters-in-law nurse their babies. While I wasn’t eyeing their latch and getting an up-close-and-personal view, their example still showed me that it was possible and that, while struggles might occur, patience and dedication can get you through.

The will to not give up

Natural birth taught me that I’m a lot stronger than I realized. Before giving birth, I did my homework. I knew the benefits of breastfeeding and I knew I did not want to give my babies formula. So even during those moments of exhaustion and times when I struggled with always having to be the one to feed the babies (my first two rejected any sort of bottle), I still knew that I didn’t want to give up. I knew it was a season of life and that weaning would eventually occur some day. I knew that my top goal was to get them through their first year without formula. And, we made it. With each of my three babies, we made it that first year…and even a few months beyond.


Insufficient Glandular Tissue

Glandular tissue is necessary for breast milk production.  The size of a woman’s breasts does not determine how much milk the breasts can make; it is the glandular tissue within.

Though a woman with small breasts will most likely need to feed her baby more times each day to produce a sufficient quantity of breast milk, both large-breasted and small-breasted mothers can produce enough milk for their babies over a 24-hour period.

How many mothers have IGT?

An extremely small number of women will have a clinical diagnosis of insufficient glandular tissue (IGT). Research shows that approximately 1 out of every 1000 lactating mothers have IGT.1  Also known as breast hypoplasia, these are breasts that are underdeveloped and do not have sufficient glandular tissue to meet the complete milk supply her baby requires.  There are certain characteristics that mark hypoplastic breasts.

What are they symptoms of hypoplastic breasts?

Breasts come in all different shapes and sizes.  In fact, breasts on the same woman are usually different from each other!  There are some common characteristics of hypoplastic breasts, though a woman does not need to have all of these traits:

  • Extremely small breasts
  • Tubular shaped breasts
  • Unevenly shaped and widely spaced breasts
  • Very large areola

Does a diagnosis of IGT mean I cannot breastfeed?

A mother with hypoplastic breasts will usually still be able to breastfeed, though the amount of milk each woman is able to produce will vary.  While there is no way to know how much milk a mother will produce until she has her baby and tries to breastfeed, there are many things a mother can do to optimize her breast milk production.  The more the breasts are stimulated and milk is removed the more milk a body will make.  Excellent lactation support following birth is essential in maximizing supply.

The early days and weeks following birth are when a mother’s body is laying down the prolactin receptors that will dictate how much milk she is able to produce daily over the course of lactation.  Optimum milk removal during this time will help her body maximize what it is able to make.  Breastfeeding often and effectively is critical.  Your baby will need to be watched closely for weight loss, and supplements (whether donor milk or formula) should only be given if necessary.  If supplements are required, giving them with an at-breast tube feeding device is ideal as your baby will continue to suckle the milk in your breasts, stimulate your supply, as well as take in extra calories.

If you are concerned about your breasts having insufficient glandular tissue, it is best to meet with a lactation consultant (IBCLC) while you are pregnant.  Together you can develop a breastfeeding plan for your specific situation.


Pros & Cons of Breastfeeding Twins

Probably no woman is completely prepared to hear the words, “You are pregnant with twins” even if it isn’t a complete surprise.  Once the reality sets in, there is a lot to do to get ready for these new little blessings.  One of the many decisions a mother of multiples will need to make as she is preparing for their arrival is how to feed them.

Advantages of Breastfeeding

There are many benefits to breastfeeding for both a mother and baby.  However, there are some advantages specific to nursing twins and higher order multiples (HOMs) as well.

  1. High chance of premature delivery
    The majority of mothers carrying multiples will deliver early.  The March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center statistics show that in 2010, nearly 60% of mothers in the US carrying twins or HOMs delivered their babies prematurely and another 34% had late preterm deliveries (before 38 weeks). 1 Breast milk is completely unique and unlike any other mammalian milk, and breast milk has even added benefits for preemies.  Though nursing a preterm baby presents its own set of challenges – such as separation while your babies are in the NICU and trying to build your milk supply – breast milk can mean the difference between life and death with a premature baby.  Many mothers of premature babies will give their babies breast milk while they are premature and later decide if they will continue with breastfeeding.  (Just a note of encouragement though…it is completely possible to transition your babies to the breast if they were born prematurely and you had to start off pumping and giving your milk by different methods; kangaroo mother care can also help make this transition happen more smoothly.)
  2. Immunological protection of breast milk
    Breast milk as immunological antibodies that are made specifically for the germs and bacteria your baby confronts each day.  Since multiples have a higher risk of prematurity – and therefore illness – giving breast milk can significantly boost their immune system and protect them from illness.  But not only if they are premature; with multiples, if one baby gets sick the chance of having all of them catch the illness is high.  Breastfeeding can save time and money from visiting the doctor both while they are young and over the course of their lifetimes.
  3. Promotes bonding
    Twins and HOMs will keep a new mother extremely busy.  Sometimes it is harder to bond when you have multiples because of time constraints – there is just more that must be done since there are more babies.  However, breastfeeding allows a mother built-in time all throughout the day and night to stop and relax and just hold and feed her babies.
  4. Easier to feed two at the same time
    Whether you have twins or more, you still only have two hands.  It is much easier to use your hands to hold/support your babies at the breast than it is to sit them down and hold the bottles.   Your babies will have more times of physical touch and cuddling which is beneficial to their mental, physical, and social development as well.

Disadvantages of Breastfeeding

There are also many disadvantages – or perceived disadvantages – to nursing twins.

  1. More Work for Mother
    It is true that with breastfeeding, only the mother has the equipment to feed her babies.  Many mothers of multiples have extra help and support from family and if they give bottles would be able to have others feed their babies as well.  However, this must be weighed against several factors:  the time of mixing formula and cleaning/sterilizing bottles as well as whether or not this extra help will be around for the entire first year or two.  It may be easier in the beginning, but if this extra help is gone after a month or two, bottle-feeding may be more cumbersome than breastfeeding.  Also, if a new mother does have extra help and support (and please try to have extra help and support – you will need it!) they can do many other things while a new mother is breastfeeding – cook, clean, change diapers, burp babies, rock babies, etc. It is common for new moms, especially mothers of multiples, to wonder when life will ever return to normal!
  2. Concerns of sleep deprivation
    This is also related to the first reason.  If a mother is not breastfeeding then when her babies wake to feed at night someone else could feed them.  Again, this must to be weighed though: will the help be around for the first year or two?  Will they be the ones to do night feeds? If not, breastfeeding would allow a mother to get more sleep than her formula-feeding counterparts.  A breastfeeding mother does not have to arouse as fully to scoop up her babies and latch them to her breast as a mother who must mix formula, give the bottles, clean the bottles, and get her babies back to sleep. Even while feeding two, a breastfeeding mother can nurse lying down for added sleep/rest. And breastfeeding produces oxytocin which has a relaxing effect on a nursing mother, thus making it easier to fall back to sleep.
  3. Concern over pumping/transitioning to the breast
    Many moms are concerned that they will spend the time pumping and building a strong milk supply only to find that later their babies do not transition to the breast.  While this occurs (rarely) the vast majority of babies will transition to the breast once they are full-term. Even if your baby doesn’t transition to the breast, pumping and expressing is not only healthier for your babies’ bodies but much less of a financial burden than buying formula.

How can I prepare to breastfeed my babies?

There are many things a mother can do while she is pregnant to prepare for breastfeeding her babies!

  1. Find a qualified lactation consultant
    You are going to be nursing twins or more and having qualified, hands-on support to make sure you get breastfeeding off to a great start is critical.  Find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in your area and meet with her prenatally.  Many lactation consultants have prenatal workshops and then will offer a discount for breastfeeding support once your babies arrive.  This will be money well spent – and much, much less than the cost of bottles and formula if you didn’t breastfeed.
  2. Meet with a lactation consultant to discuss maximizing your milk production
    While it is completely possible for your body to make enough milk to exclusively breastfeed twins, triplets, or more, having a plan in place that involves lactation practices to maximize your milk supply is critical.  During the first few weeks after giving birth your body is laying down the prolactin receptors that will regulate the amount of milk you will make for the duration of breastfeeding. You want to make sure you maximize what your body will make and the importance of having a plan in place so you know the best way to initiate breastfeeding in the early days cannot be understated.
  3. Begin attending a mother-to-mother support group
    Find a La Leche League or other breastfeeding support group in your area.  There may even be a group specifically for nursing multiples!  Knowing other mothers who have successfully nursed their twins or HOMs will be a great help and encouragement to you – trust me!

Preventing Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast.  A third of breastfeeding women experience mastitis at some point, with the vast majority occurring by three months postpartum. 1 However, mastitis can occur at any point during lactation, and there are many things a mother can do to help prevent it occurring.

Below are ten important things all breastfeeding mothers should do for good lactation management; all of which will help to prevent mastitis too.

  1. Educate yourself about breastfeeding while you are pregnant: babies should be fed on cue and not on a prescribed schedule; newborns eat all the time and should have frequent, unrestricted access to breastfeeding; every mother’s breast storage capacity is different so it is best to feed on baby’s cues, etc.
  2. Find a qualified lactation consultant in your area before you have problems and don’t hesitate to contact her if you have any concerns/questions …or even for one-on-one time with an expert to make sure you are doing everything right! (Many insurance plans are beginning to cover services for an IBCLC; even if yours doesn’t, getting qualified support so you can breastfeed is much more cost effective than buying formula and higher healthcare costs.)
  3. Practice 24-hour rooming in and lots of skin-to-skin time with your baby – all of which helps mom respond to baby’s early feeding cues, reduces skipped feeds, and aids in frequent nursing and breast drainage.
  4. Avoid pacifiers, bottles, and artificial teats. Babies have a desire to suckle and if this need is met elsewhere, such as with pacifiers, it can lead to missed feeds, full breasts, plugged ducts, and mastitis.
  5. Understand and recognize early warning signs of mastitis and proactively treat them if they occur.  When you notice full breasts or milk stasis, be extra diligent in nursing your baby frequently to ensure milk stasis turns into milk removal and not a plugged duct.
  6. Use breast massage if you have a plugged duct to enhance milk flow and remove the clogged milk.
  7. Express milk and/or use breast massage if baby is not feeding effectively for whatever reason.  You may have a premature baby or an older baby who has a cold and doesn’t want to nurse much for a few days. No matter the reason, make sure to express milk if baby’s lack of effective milk removal is temporary.
  8. Take note of changes in a baby’s feeding rhythms. If baby begins to sleep longer stretches at night, mother may need to express a little milk for comfort as her body begins to adjust. Perhaps your baby is beginning to eat a lot of solids and isn’t nursing as often during the day; take care to ensure your breasts don’t become so uncomfortably full it could turn into mastitis.
  9. Use common sense approaches for good health so your body is better able to adjust pathogens it does come in contact with: accept all offers of help; get adequate rest (perhaps you consider bed sharing for example); eat a healthy diet; wash your hands; and take care that bras, purse straps, and/or slings are not pressing into your breasts, which can lead to milk stasis and mastitis.
  10. Be especially diligent if previous history. If you have had mastitis before, including while nursing previous children, or if you have had breast surgery it is critical that you are extremely diligent to prevent milk stasis and plugged ducts from occurring. Ensure your baby has excellent positioning and attachment at the breast. Listen to your body and don’t hesitate to seek lactation support!

Connect

Use the form below to connect with Krista Gray. Use can also contact Krista via Facebook/NursingNurture.


Breastfeeding Premature Twins – My Story

During the first three days I gave colostrum to the twin through a syringe.

During the first four days I gave colostrum to the twins through a syringe.

I was as prepared as possible to nurse my twins, until I spontaneously went into labor at 32 weeks, 3 days gestation.  Though we had planned to return to the states for their birth just four days later, we were currently living in Egypt so they were born there.  The doctors were very uncomfortable with me birthing breech, premature twins vaginally and they did a last-minute emergency C-section which included me being put under general anesthesia.  Neither a C-section, nor premature twins had ever been in my plans for their birth and all of this had an impact on breastfeeding.

Those first few days were a blur.  When I woke up from anesthesia I asked for my breast pump and began to express every 3 hours.  The boys were given IV fluids, but no formula, that first day.  They were in the NICU.  On Day 2 they came off the supplemental oxygen and I met their pediatrician – who was cautiously supportive of me breastfeeding premature twins.  He agreed it was good but never thought I would carry through with so many strikes against me:  C-section, preemies, twins.  He didn’t know my resolve nor my passion for breastfeeding.  He told me once we knew they could suck, swallow, and breath at the same time (a skill developed between 28-37 weeks gestation) and were nursing efficiently I could take my boys home.  I was ready to get started.

I breastfed the twins before topping them off with bottles of expressed milk.

I breastfed the twins before topping them off with bottles of expressed milk.

Nursing my daughter had been a breeze compared to what I was now undertaking.  She was a healthy, full-term baby, who I birthed naturally and was immediately placed on my tummy for skin-to-skin time and to nurse.  In contrast, the first time I tried nursing my boys was nearly 26 hours after their birth and, though they were healthy, they were small and it took great energy to nurse at the breast.  It was difficult with the doctors and nurses “micro-managing” each feed by being concerned about the amount of milk taken in, weighing the babies before and after nursing, and then topping them off with my expressed milk in a syringe and later a bottle.  By day 5, the doctors were satisfied that they were eating enough for us to take them home – though they had already lost a significant amount of birth weight.  (They were 3 lbs 15 oz and 3 lbs 13 oz at birth and were now down to 3 ½ pounds each.)  I was just excited to be able to have my whole family at home. . . and, looking back, glad no one told me what the next couple months would hold!

I loved nursing my twins lying down because we would fall asleep together.

I loved nursing my twins lying down because we would fall asleep together.

The days, weeks, and months that followed were a blur of sleepless nights trying to breastfeed premature twins and take care of their 2 ½ year old sister whose world had just changed dramatically.  Being preemies, they didn’t wake up on their own so I would wake them and nurse them.  Then I would top them off with my expressed milk in bottles.  Then pump, clean and sterilize bottles.  I did this routine every 3 hours, day and night, and it would typically take 1 ½ to 2 hours per feed (it took them a long time to drink milk when they were so small).  With the remaining hour I would eat, or sleep, or play with our daughter, or try to talk with family back in the states to update them, or try to grab a shower for the day, or consult with our doctor in the states, or try to sling skin-to-skin against me. . . but I became utterly exhausted.  I wanted to be diligent about pumping because I wanted to ensure I had a good milk supply for twins when they began to eat more.  I wanted to nurse them each feeding because I didn’t want them to begin to prefer a bottle over my breast.  And obviously I was the only one who could pump and nurse. . . and it was exhausting.  Looking back, I would definitely counsel a mom in my position to not worry so much about nipple confusion/preference before 40 weeks gestation and let others help more with bottle feedings, especially at night, so she could get more sleep.  It got to the point where the alarm right by my bed would not wake me, though it would wake my husband across the house who would have to come and get me up!

This was another common position that I used for nursing the boys.

This was another common position that I used for nursing the boys.

I was extremely diligent in the first few weeks to pump every three hours 24/7.  Though my boys were tiny and couldn’t drink much milk yet, I wanted to make sure to build my supply so I could exclusively nurse them once they were bigger.  I pumped with a double electric pump for 20 minutes on both sides, while doing breast compressions, and made sure to write down how much I got at each session.  Once my supply was strong, I began to drop down the time I pumped, first to 15 minutes and then to 10 minutes.  Eventually I dropped one of the nighttime pumping sessions.  Still, months later I counted how much frozen milk I had stored in my freezer and there was 13 gallons!!

I often enjoyed relaxing outside while nursing my twins.

I often enjoyed relaxing outside while nursing my twins.

I never anticipated the incredible pressure I would be put under from doctors to “fortify” my milk.  I had loved breastfeeding my daughter and I knew breast milk was best for my boys but it is very, very difficult when the medical establishment pushes you to supplement or “fortify” – there were many times I felt like if they didn’t grow it would be all my fault since I had gone against all medical advice.  I was so thankful to be able to consult with a lactation consultant who was a great encouragement to me.  One thing in particular she kept reminding me was to wait until they were 40 weeks gestation and then notice the difference in their ability to nurse.  And I’m thankful I never gave in and “fortified” my milk.

Because one of my boys continued to lose weight and /or stop gaining whenever I went exclusively to the breast (without topping him off with the bottle) I had to continue this nursing routine until they were around 40 weeks gestation.  And then, suddenly, it really was true!  They began nursing more like newborns rather than preemies!  I began to get more sleep – in fact I remember the night when I got 7 hours of sleep – it was all broken up, but still, it was sleep.  I felt like a new woman! They were nearly 3 months old at this time, but, before then, a good night was 4 hours of broken sleep.

I truly believe the biggest challenges I faced in the beginning were on account of the boys being preemies rather than twins.  The day I packed up my pump was a day of celebration and from that time on I just enjoyed nursing my boys.  I used many nursing positions, but typically nursed them together for efficiency sake.  However, if one was asleep and the other wanted to nurse I always just nursed the one.  I loved being able to lie down and nurse them together and go right back to sleep – something I continued to do until they were at least a year old and just became too big.  Having already nursed a child, I knew how wonderful and easy a good nursing relationship could be and that definitely gave me a goal for the hardships I faced in the early days. I would almost always nurse them together and I had a large pillow that I put underneath them so we could all relax.  My most common nursing location was the couch with my feet propped up.  Not only was it comfortable but it also allowed me to interact with my daughter as I nursed her brothers.  My very favorite way to nurse them, though, was lying down.  The three of us would almost always fall asleep this way! I also found an added benefit nursing twins: when you breastfeed your body produces oxytocin for the Milk Ejection Reflex.  One of oxytocin’s many wonderful benefits is relaxation.  I could become so relaxed nursing twins I could fall asleep almost anywhere!  It was a great way to wind down throughout the day and I loved the opportunities I had to nurse them lying down.

I nursed my boys until they self-weaned at 2 1/2.  It had been a wonderful nursing relationship and I’m so thankful I was able to nurse them the way I did!