My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Breastfeeding and not me

Before I get all the pro-breastfeeding lectures, let me start off by saying that I'm pumping and my girls diet is made up purely of breastmilk mixed with a touch of Neosure to increase the calorie content.

It's the actual feeding at the breast that I'm talking about.  And I'm not doing it.

At first, it was an issue of the girls mouths just being too small and too weak to properly feed at the breast.  Preemies and the complications that creates and all.  But as time has gone on, I dunno, I'm just not doing it.

We did try.  I got a couple of different sized nipple shields and I have nursed each successfully at least once with it.  I even did a naked feeding at some point with one of them.  But the whole thing was frustrating.

First, they just didn't want to do it.  It's rather insulting to have your baby taste your breast, and then scream as they push it away and turn their head away from you.

Second, when we finally did succeed, we offered a bottle about 15 minutes after what appeared to be a very satisfied milk coma, and they would still take at least half, if not the full bottle.  If they need that much to fill their tummies anyway, why waste our time and frustration nursing?

Third, it hurts more than the pump.  At least for us it does.  Maybe it's because they are still itty bitty mouths and they can pretty much only hang on the nipple rather than get a lot of breast in the mouth.

Fourth, freedom.  I'm pretty darned tired, and I can't imagine how exhausted I would be if I had to be the only one to feed both girls.  I don't really appreciate being tied to the pump every 3 hours either, but at least if I'm out and about and miss a pumping, the only one punished for it is me (and my boobs DO punish me if I neglect them).

At this point, my girls are 2 days past their due date.  In theory, they are standard newborns rather than preemies and I very well could be beginning to breastfeed exclusively.  But I'm not gonna.  If we were stranded on a desert island, we've figured out nursing enough that my kids wouldn't starve, but since it's not necessary and none of us seem to enjoy it, I'm not going to do it unless a situation arises where I have to.

I did have lovely pictures in my head of that serene scene where everyone is smiling as the baby suckles.  That's not the scene in my house.  I can bond with my babies just fine holding a bottle instead of wincing at the pain in my boob.  And I really don't care that "if you just do it, it gets better.  You just have to get over the hump."  No I don't.  I don't have to do anything.  The pumping and bottle feeding is working out pretty well for my family so we're not going to go through the pain of figuring out something different.

And if I'm ever out in public, feeding my girls, and some nosey old biddie gives me a judgmental "the breast is best!" I'm not going to quietly take it and shrink with shame.  Nope.  I'm going to ask that person as they think they're walking away "excuse me, but what exactly are you hoping I will do now that you've said that?  Oh gee, I never knew that, I'll just whip out a boob right now!  Thank goodness you told me that and changed our entire lives!"

And just a hint for those of you who are having trouble and do want to get over the hump.  Give your baby about 10-20ml from a bottle, burp, and then take the baby to breast.  Once that initial starvation feeling goes away, the baby will likely have the patience and desire to nurse successfully.  That's what worked for us the few times we got nursing to work.


  1. Everyone has to do what is best for them. No judgement here.

  2. I too am a slave to my Medela pump. In fact, I'm pumping right now as I write this (how's that for multi-tasking). My daughter was also a 35wk old preemie and we started this way and haven't stopped.
    We've dabbled on the boob but she'll only take it from one and I'll be left with one engorged and one shriveled. And I'll end up pumping anyway. This is my 4th baby, all my others were breasffed with no issues. But they were all full term.

    My reasons for doing it this way are similar to yours. I like to monitor how much she's taking, that way i know she's had a good feed and will be good for another 3 hours. No more 'snacking' which my son was notorious for doing - every hour or so. That's a recipe for a sleep deprived breakdown. My husband can do a night feed, which he couldn't do when it was just me and the boobs.

    We're all happy doing it this way. In fact, my daughter has gained 2lbs in 3 weeks. Sure, she's taking 4ozs per feed and my nips look like weathered thumbs but she's worth it. :-)

    Keep up the good work Alex.


  3. I managed to exclusively breastfeed my FULL TERM twins for 2.5 months. They weren't picking up weight fast enough so we supplemented with formula. By 4.5 months I gave up on breastfeeding completely.

    I tried my best and it still didn't work out.

    Good luck Alex and well done for giving your babies breast milk.

  4. There's something about the preemie thing and the twin thing that make it really hard. I only breastfed for about a month (and meh, they were in the nicu most of that time and being ng tube fed a lot too) and then exclusively pumped for another 3 months and then dropped it altogether. It's HARD. I love your "would-be response" to the stranger who walks up to you on the street and says something about breastfeeding. Is it wrong that I almost want that to happen just so you can give em hell? ;)

  5. I had the same experience b-feding (with 1 baby, non-preemie). He ate wonderfully from a bottle of pumped milk. It made our family able to function rather than obsess over feeding from the breast. Also, he grew much faster once I totally switched to bottles. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. You are still doing it- just a different delivery method. Even if you do switch to formula, try not to sweat it. People are way too nosy.

    Any way you can find to make life easier with newborn twins-do it & feel smug about it.

  6. My girls were fed breast milk from bottles almost exclusively for the first two months-- and by "almost exclusively," I mean that it was only once a day I got up the gumption to nurse them (usually they each got to nurse once). Some days I didn't nurse them at all, just kept pumping around the clock and bottle-feeding. It was pretty exhausting. They were bottle-fed because they were so small and fell asleep so quickly that they didn't eat enough with nursing alone. When we hit two months, our LC gave me the thumbs-up that they could eat just fine on their own, and we dropped the bottles cold turkey. And... it was AMAZING. So much easier! Nursing a young infant is SO different from nursing a newborn. These days, at 8 months, they eat for maybe 5-10 min MAX each time I feed them unless it's the middle of the night and they're half-asleep, and it's never more than, say, 12 minutes. SUCH a difference. So whatever you decide to do, go ahead and do it, no judgment!, I just want to reassure you that it CAN get easier! <3

  7. You are more dedicated than I so take it to heart. My baby was 36 weeks and we couldn't make the boob work. He has bad latch, he's lazy, and I produce enough to feed 1/2 a baby, not a whole one. So I decided to pump and I HATE it. I hate living my life in 3 hour increments. I hate the extra clean up and dishes. But most of all I hate all the time it takes. I easily dedicate 3 hours a day to pumping activities. All I want to do is be with our son during that time. And for some reason whenever I pump, he usually cries and I hate I can't pick him up because I am chained to my damn breast pump. So my guy is getting 6 weeks of 1/2 breast milk and that's it. We are in the process of weaning right now. I felt horribly guilty and then decided screw it! It's going to make both of us happier in the long run and it's the right choice for me. I'll be able to enjoy more time with him and he seems to be just fine on formula.
    Don't feel bad, just feel good in deciding what's right for you and your family!

    1. I've actually just accepted the fact that I am a 70% pumping/ 30% on the boob breastfeeding mom, and I feel so much happier! I spent a month straight feeling guilty and weak that I couldn't exclusively bf on the breast because of a bad latch and constant pain, and it made my first few weeks of being a mom a dark place sometimes, constantly being disappointed when it wouldn't work. I think pumping has a lot of advantages, especially for twins. Your husband gets to bond with them! You get to leave the house or take a long car ride without any starving babies. And most importantly, you found what works for your family. Good work!


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