Building a village of support is at the heart of why as Mums, we created mumamoo. The more we share, the more we create supportive spaces for those around us. Today's Feed Fearlessly was written by Olivia Williams (Liv), Super Mum to three, including beautiful twins Henry & Tilly. Liv shares her journey as a new multiple mum, the highs and lows and why having dopey boobs is okay...
My breastfeeding experience with twins was perhaps not the zen, calm, beautiful bonding opportunity I had pictured in my mind. In an antenatal class I remember being told on questioning the logistics of feeding two babies, not to worry, that boobs are smart and if there are two babies to feed, they would simply make enough milk to feed two babies. I took this on face value.
My boobs, however, clearly didnot get this memo. Maybe my boobs are street smart, not book smart. Who knows? (Maybe I should ask them).
As it turned out my breastfeeding experience was, as the French would say, le shithouse. My of-average-intelligence boobs did not, in fact, produce enough milk to sustain my two babies, as promised. I did everything; I became close personal friends with the breast pump, expressing after every feed, morning noon and night. Lactation consultants. Thirty-eight hundred motillium tablets four thousand times a day. Fenugreek. Nursing tea. Lactation cookies (barely edible. Better when mini m and m’s are involved). Oats. Guinness. Crying. Crying some more. Crying even more. Yet more crying. No stone was left unturned. No tissue box was left unemptied. The long and short of it? My milkshake does not bring all the babies to the yard.
It took me months to reconcile the notion that I wasn’t going to be able to exclusively breastfeed. I had nothing personal against formula, except for the fact that breast milk is free. Formula, costs money. Formula for two babies, costs more money. Breast is best, said my tin of formula…and that random lady in the park that day. You just don’t know how guilty and heartbroken you’re going to feel until you’re crying into your you-beaut, green microsuede, state of the art breast feeding pillow. It has a pouch for the TV remote!! This was supposed to be perfect!
And yet, when I accepted that my life as a glorified milk bar had its limitations, and as I saw my babies starting to thrive and grow and move up exponentially on their growth charts, my guilt and despair started to be assuaged. They were settled, they were sleeping. They were happier. I was happier. I was doing all that I could, they were getting as much breast milk as I could produce for them and when it was necessary, which, honestly, was more than half the time, I would top them up with formula so they were full. I started to shrug off the opinions of those who were suggesting I was doing the wrong thing (which happened A LOT, I’m not going to lie) and just took heart in the fact that I knew I wasn’t. I stopped hiding their bottles and all the sterilising equipment when people were coming over (eventually). I just stopped being ashamed. And let me tell you, letting going of all of that was so freeing. And low and behold, there is no permanent forehead tattoo on any of my children that says NOT EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFED, separating them from other kids in the playground. Funny that!
I was envious of women who were able to exclusively breast feed but consoled myself with the notion that if I had one baby to feed rather than two, perhaps I might have adequate supply too. As it happens, I went into my breast-feeding experience with my now 7-year-old singleton with an open mind and hopeful that when I had one baby it would be different, and I would make enough milk.
But it’s ok! Like my twins, she got the best that I could give, and she was a happy baby, who thrived and slept well. And honestly, combination feeding has its benefits. My husband could be involved in feeding for one, and I didn’t have to whip a boob out in public if I didn’t want to (which is lucky because I am just about the most self-conscious person on the planet).
For me, it actually worked out pretty well in the long run, despite all the tears and frustration and initial feelings of inadequacy and shame.
In the end, I guess to put it simply, what I learnt was that you can only do your breast…err…best.
We proudly support the work of the Australian Multiple Birth Association. For advice if you are a new or expectant Multiple Birth parent contact them at amba.org.au or via the Multiple Birth Association in your State.