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Bringing Up Babies

2: Breastfeeding—What worked for us

Oodles of moms of multiples don't breastfeed at all, and that's nothing to feel guilty about. But since we had positive experiences nursing our older kids, we wanted to try breastfeeding our twins, too. Despite our best efforts, we had mixed results with our multiples. Here's what did work for us:

Supplementing with formula. Surprisingly, both of our ob's and pediatricians encouraged us to alternate nursing with bottle-feeding formula or to top off just-nursed babies with a formula bottle. They suggested that supplementing would be less physically taxing on us, plus we wouldn't be worrying that our babies weren't nourished.

Getting help. Our docs also said that if we wanted to avoid mommy meltdowns those first 12 weeks, we needed to have feeding assistants who could hand us pillows for propping nursed babies or hold babies for bottle feedings. That's where our friends and family came in handy.

Trying different holds. Sometimes we nursed our twins simultaneously, using the popular double-clutch (latch babies one at a time with the football hold, tucking their legs in close under your elbow, pointing toward your back) or cross-cradle positions (latch babies one at a time with a cradle hold, keeping their heads apart and their legs and feet crisscrossed). Other times, when no one was around to help with the latching and pillow propping, we nursed one twin at a time, usually while the other one was screaming. While nursing, we tried to comfort the crying twin by singing and rubbing his feet.

Becoming scheduling junkies. We thought we were type A before we had twins. Ha! We were both so overwhelmed by our double bundles, and dealing with their older siblings, that we had to create some sense of order in our topsy-turvy lives. Our twins' feeding and sleeping routines had to be superstrict in order for us to stay sane. This meant we sometimes had to leave the park before older siblings were ready or stay home when they were dying to go out, so that we could nurse according to schedule.

Making the pump our friend. Christina stopped nursing after a couple of weeks and bought a souped-up double pump that she used every four hours, even in the middle of the night, to keep the breast milk flowing. She mixed her milk with formula and fed it to the twins in bottles.

Being prepared. Before we fed the twins, we'd ask our bigger kids if they needed anything, so feedings wouldn't be interrupted by coloring-book requests. We also made sure we always had a safe place to rest the babies if we needed to put one down while we relatched or burped the other.