Finding out that I was expecting twins was definitely the biggest (and best) surprise of my life. Those emotional weeks after the big ultrasound reveal were filled with lots of plan changes of both the birth and life variety, yet there were two constants for me: I wanted a vaginal, unmedicated birth and I wanted to breastfeed my babies as long as possible.
Preparing for Breastfeeding Twins
With lots of preparation, an amazing care team and some good luck, we welcomed our healthy, full term twins Tobias and Elena in December 2015 after a short, peaceful and drug-free labor and delivery. It was amazing to finally hold the children I had longed for in my arms, but after a bit of a snuggle they let it be known that now that they were earth side they were hungry! Thus began my 14 month journey with having both breasts out, pretty much all of the time.
Four Things I Credit for Our Successful Twin Breastfeeding Journey
Despite the constant nudity, our experience was overwhelming positive. Peering back in time through the milky, poopy, joyful, teary haze that surrounds the first year of Toby and Elly’s life, four key components contributed to our twin breastfeeding success: protection, organization, nutrition and hydration.
Protecting Our Twins Breastfeeding Space
Feeling safe seems to be a primal prerequisite for successful lactation. For me stress, anxiety or pain negatively affected my ability to produce milk for my babies. Essential to my emotional safety was establishing a strong support network early on. My mom was able to come to stay for 6 weeks postpartum and helped so much with my older son, cooking, cleaning and getting babes latched. After she left I had an inner circle of friends who I felt comfortable asking to come for a couple of hours to pass me babies or just sit with me and chat while the twins nursed.
During this time I also paid a lovely lady to help with cleaning and laundry when things got out of hand which they did, often. I view this investment as invaluable. I recommend that expecting twin mamas budget in advance for a postpartum doula or a cleaning lady for the first few weeks at least. Having this network in place prevented me from getting lost in the moments when I felt overwhelmed: of course those moments happened, but I knew who to call when they did. Accept help when it’s offered and if it’s not offered, ask.
Getting Organized for Breastfeeding Twins
Researching and consulting with my midwife during pregnancy helped me to feel prepared and to have the necessary supplies on hand for when the babies were ready to eat, most importantly: nipple protection cream, a good quality electric pump (don’t forget you should be able to get one for free through your insurance) and a large C shaped breastfeeding support pillow. We were so fortunate to be able to hold our twins skin to skin as soon as they were born. My midwife helped to get both babies latched on and nursing, and showed my partner how to support me to get babies nursing at the same time.
In the days immediately following the birth, she was also able to watch the twins nurse and to verify that they were latching well with no physical barriers to success. She encouraged me to protect my nipples with lanolin cream before and after every feeding; keeping my nipples from cracking made things more comfortable for all three of us, and helped to prevent mastitis (infection of the milk duct) from developing.
Logistics and Schedules with Breastfeeding Twins
I am naturally a pretty laid back go with the flow type of person—our kids are always teaching us and my twins got me organized! My first son breastfed on demand which worked well for us, but I didn’t think that I could keep up with two babes on two different schedules. From the beginning I chose to always feed both babies at the same time so if one baby needed to eat (usually my son) but the other was sleeping (usually my daughter) I would gently wake the sleepy one to top off as well.
This system worked well for us and at their one week appointment with the pediatrician the twins had both gained weight—putting on ounces for the win! At 4 weeks I began to pump at the same time every day. This helped to establish my supply and I felt safer knowing that I had a backup stash in the freezer if I needed to step out for a few hours—no one wins when mama feels chained to her babies.
At 8 weeks we were ready to start a feeding schedule. I consulted with my midwife to make sure we were setting appropriately timed feeds and then began to be more firm with feeding times. My partner supported us a lot in this transition—walking and soothing babies until feeding time arrived etc. In just a few days we settled into the schedule of feed, burp and into their crib, with very few complaints and more sleep for everyone. The more comfortable and relaxed I was the better things flowed.
Feeding Station and Breastfeeding Positions with Twins
I set up a cozy feeding corner in our bed and had it stocked up with snacks, water bottles, iPod with podcasts cued up and my ever faithful C pillow. The position that worked best in the early days was for me to settle into the feeding nook with pillows propped up behind me and the C pillow wrapped around me.
Then I would have someone pass me the first baby and get him or her latched with their head in the center of the pillow and their legs in the crook of my left elbow. Then I would have someone pass me the second baby and we would latch him or her with their head also in the center and their legs in the crook of my right elbow. I marked their first initial on the hand that corresponded to the side they were feeding on so I would remember to alternate them, which is important for neck safety.
Learning to Breastfeed Twins without a Helper
As they got stronger and I gained confidence, I would place them both on the bed with enough room for me to wiggle in between them with the C pillow wrapped around me. Then I would scoop up one with my left arm, get them latched using my right hand for support, then reach down with my right arm to scoop up the other one, and get them latched using my left hand for support. It takes practice but I got to be a pro!
A supportive partner makes all the difference for the night time feeding productions. By the time the babies were sitting up independently, around 5 or 6 months, the C pillow wasn’t crucial and we could feed by side lying for one with the other draped on top, and by the time they were crawling they would just pull down my shirt and go for it on their own!
Nutrition for Mama When Breastfeeding Twins
In order to produce enough high quality milk for two growing infants it is essential to eat high quality food, regularly and lots of it! I followed the Brewers diet for twins during pregnancy, which incorporates high protein and low sugar. This eating plan is strict but for breastfeeding I made it even more so. My first son was fussy and didn’t sleep well, and some research I did indicated that gluten and lactose in breast milk can be major gas culprits causing discomfort for newborns.
I was willing to try anything to maximize my sleep and minimize the twins’ discomfort—my diet for breastfeeding was high protein, no lactose and no gluten . I stuck to it firmly for the first 6 months and my twins definitely slept better than my first baby, so it was worth it in my book! I had lots of high protein snacks ready to grab between feeds: nuts, hard boiled eggs, hummus. My sweet friends brought over lots of meals and snacks in the early months which was a life saver. I recommend setting up a meal schedule before birth and if people ask what they can do for you tell them honestly “feed me and feed my family”! Your loved ones will be glad to have a specific way to support you.
Drinking enough water when you only have to hydrate yourself can be a challenge. When you have to hydrate for three, the quantity of liquid intake needed can seem ridiculous, but it is so necessary in order to lactate efficiently. A rule that worked for me was that if the twins were drinking, I was drinking. I had a water bottle in our feeding corner and did my best to pound back a full liter at every feed. Adding lime or other flavors and drinking coconut water helped to keep it interesting. My midwife gave me a recipe for a lactation boosting oatmeal drink which I liked so much that I drank it almost every day.
Oatmeal Drink to Boost Breastmilk Supply Recipe:
- Soak a cup of whole organic oats and a dash of cinnamon in 2 liters of water overnight.
Strain in the morning and mix in a tablespoon of honey.
Eating and drinking for three takes creativity and commitment!
“Success” When Breastfeeding Twins is Different for Everyone
I define my breastfeeding relationship with my twins as successful because it was emotionally and physically safe for everyone involved. My babies got the nutrition that they needed to grow strong, and nursing was connection time for us. I certainly do not feel that breastfeeding is the only way to achieve success in nutrition and bonding. If exclusive formula, exclusive breastfeeding or a mixture of the two is what works, I encourage mamas to follow their intuition and to do what feels right for their optimum mental and physical health and that of their babies.
By the time my twins were 14 months old, I no longer felt present and joyful while breastfeeding. Resentment started to creep in, so the three of us talked about it, said goodbye to that phase of our time together and we stopped breastfeeding, ready for the next adventure. Spoiler alert—it still involved a lot of poop. If breastfeeding your twins interests you, research your options, make sure you are protected, organized, nourished and hydrated and go for it—it IS possible and can be so very beautiful.
Throughout your pregnancy, have you ever found yourself worrying about all the problems that could arise in those nine months? If so, you’re not alone. Many women worry about things like pain and discomfort, baby’s positioning, pre-eclampsia, swelling, etc.
Although there is no shortage of advice, opinions or articles on “Dr. Google”, there’s one thing that can be a real game changer during your pregnancy that is often overlooked…prenatal chiropractic care.
Now I know what you’re probably thinking…isn’t chiropractic what people use to help with neck pain and low back pain?
Yes it is…but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Women who receive chiropractic during pregnancy report benefits such as; an increase in overall comfort during their pregnancy, less headaches, less swelling, normalizing of blood pressure, decreased labor time, less need for intervention during labor and delivery, and an optimal head down position for baby.
How is it that chiropractic helps in pregnancy?
We know the brain controls all of the functions in the body. It tells your intestines how to digest and absorb food, it instructs your heart when to beat and your uterus how to grow that beautiful baby. In order for the brain to function properly, the spine needs to be in alignment and moving correctly.
Enter: Prenatal Chiropractic.
Chiropractic adjustments to the spine help the joints move better and improve the alignment of the body. This enhances the communication between the brain and the body. Which is why pregnant women see such huge benefits ranging from decreased rib pain to breech babies turning head down!
Another huge benefit of chiropractic care during your pregnancy is for baby’s positioning. Adjustments done to the pelvis help create plenty of room for baby to grow and move around. This also helps the baby to be in an optimal position when it comes time for delivery.
Webster’s technique is a specific technique used by prenatal chiropractors, especially if the baby is breech. This technique involves a gentle adjustment to the pelvis as well as soft tissue work to balance the pelvis. The improved balance and increased communication between the brain and body allows baby enough room to naturally move into an optimal position for delivery.
So ladies, the concerns about if you will feel better come delivery time, or if the results of your gestational diabetes test will be positive, etc. will lessen when you are informed, empowered and supported.
Women who are under prenatal chiropractic care feel that they are ensuring the best possible outcomes for their pregnancy, birth and baby. I hope this has shed some light on just how powerful and, potentially life-changing, prenatal chiropractic care can be for women.
Things you can do at home to support a healthy pregnancy
I often have women asking me if there are things they can do at home to help ensure a healthy pregnancy. Exercise and making sure your joints are getting proper movement is vital to your health, whether you’re pregnant or not.
With that being said, there are specific joints and muscles groups that you want to make sure are functioning properly during pregnancy.
Stretch Your Hamstrings
There are a variety of ways to stretch the hamstrings; I recommend using whichever stretch is most comfortable.
The simplest way this can be done is sitting on the ground with your legs straight in front while leaning forward.
Although the hamstrings are located on the back part of your leg, there is a very crucial connection between this large muscle group and the pelvis. Allowing the hamstrings to be loose and supple will lead to better overall alignment of the pelvis.
Get Upside Down
Ok, well maybe not completely upside down! This second exercise is called the forward leaning inversion.
For this exercise, you can simply kneel on the edge of a couch about 2 ft high. Carefully, lower your hands to the ground while keeping your knees on the couch. I recommend taking 2-3 deep breaths while inverted and then come back to the upright position. (Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before doing this exercise.)
It’s a good idea to have someone help lower you down and bring you back upright.
Incorporating this exercise into your daily routine can help keep baby in the optimal head down position. It can also be helpful to get baby head down if he/she is currently presenting breech. The forward leaning inversion allows certain muscles and ligaments to release creating more room in the lower part of the uterus for baby to move into a great position for birth.
Spear, David, & Alcantara, Joel. “The Chiropractic Care of a Pregnant Patient Presenting with a Breech Pregnancy.” Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, & Family Health. 2016.1 (2016): 32-34.
Spear, David, & Alcantara, Joel. “Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) in a Pregnant Woman with Placenta Previa, Migraines, Neck & Back Pain Undergoing Subluxation Centered Chiropractic.” Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, & Family Health. 2016.1 (2016): 18-21.
International Chiropractic Pediatric Association
Dr. Heidi Haavik
This guest post was written by Dr. Lauren Pennetti. Dr. Lauren is deeply passionate about helping people live a well-balanced, healthy life. Her and her husband, Matt, created Prime Chiropractic because they wanted to give their Denver community hope without having to rely on drugs and medication. When she’s not at the office, Dr. Lauren is the “Olivia Pope” of the household and is constantly chasing around her 8-month-old son, Braxton, who she is absolutely obsessed with. Reach out to Dr. Lauren Pennetti at email@example.com
You’ve gotten your positive pregnancy test! Congratulations! So many feelings set in those first couple weeks—excitement, anticipation, joy, and even some trepidation, fear, nervousness, or being completely overwhelmed. Try to relax, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and our goal is help ease some of that stress for you! There’s no “right” answer here, so inform yourself so you know your option and then follow your instincts. Whatever you decide in the end, know that you can absolutely do this!
So now what? Here’s some first steps to help you get moving in the right direction.
Think about the kind of birth you’d like
What do you know about birth? What opinions or feelings do you have about the kind of care you’d like for yourself and your baby? Some women know right away, but others take time. Educating yourself will be an invaluable tool when it comes time to deliver. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to your mom, aunts, cousins, sisters and friends but sometimes it will be up to YOU to figure out what is best for you and your baby. And spend some time listening to your intuition.
Read books to prepare
Check out our favorites for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, postpartum and motherhood.
Listen to Birth Stories
Not to toot our own horn but we often hear that this is THE most useful preparation for giving birth. The Birth Hour covers all types of birth stories so you can pick and choose the episodes you want to listen to or binge them all and be prepared for any given scenario.
Decide on a Care Provider
Once you have an idea of how you think you’d like to deliver, make the first appointment with a doctor or midwife. Most care providers will want to see you between 8-11 weeks to be able to hear a heartbeat, confirm your due date, and maybe even do an ultrasound. If you decide to hire an obstetrician, many clinics fill up fast, so even if you are only 4 weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment for a simple interview to see if the OB is a good fit for you.
OB vs. midwife can be a tricky decision. If you want a drug-free birth, a midwife is an excellent option. They tend to deal with low-risk pregnancies (what does it mean to be low-risk), spend lots of time with you during appointments and attend to you during the majority of labor. OBs are good options if you think you’d like pain management, a hospital setting for labor and delivery, or have a higher risk pregnancy.
Remember, nothing is ever set in stone. Just make some choices and start interviewing care providers. If at some point during your pregnancy you feel uneasy about your provider, or the hospital, or the policies, or anything else, it’s completely your prerogative to change your mind—they work for YOU! Advocate for yourself, ask questions (and demand answers until you feel comfortable) and follow your intuition. There are always options, and your safety and peace of mind is the priority and both are integral to a successful birth experience.
Buy some prenatal vitamins
That tiny little baby is developing vital organs rapidly right from the get-go. Brain and heart development are specifically important at this stage, and getting enough folic acid in particular can prevent some pretty serious birth defects. By week 8, the fetus structurally has everything that an adult has, even though it’s only 2 inches long. Getting the right vitamins early on helps to ensure proper development. Keep in mind not all vitamins are created equal. A good test is to drop a pill in a cup of water and see if it dissolves. If it does, that means your body will absorb all those important nutrients. If it is still in pill form an hour or two later, get a different brand. These are your new best friends! Start taking those bad boys right away! Theralogix is a brand that we love that offers monthly shipments and their supplements are developed by a team of doctors. (That link will get you 15% off!)
Ditch harmful substances
Say “see you later!” to your favorite cocktail. Pregnancy is a vulnerable time and what the mama gets, the baby gets. Excessive alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and other nervous system disorders so it’s best to give it up for the next 9 months (although many studies show that the occasional glass of wine is harmless). Just talk to your care provider. The same goes for cigarettes and other drugs. Even second hand smoke can do damage to that vulnerable little baby, so steer clear and talk to your care provider about solutions if you need some help cutting back. Here’s a complete list of things to avoid while pregnant.
Know the basics of nutrition
There are a couple of foods that are off-limits for the next little while, here are the general guidelines.
Things to avoid:
Raw or runny eggs
Fish containing large amounts of mercury like mackerel, shark, swordfish.
Limit white albacore tuna to one weekly serving.
Soft, unpasteurized cheeses like brie, goat cheese, or blue cheese. Pasteurized cheese is ok.
Deli meat, unless it is heated up first.
Limit coffee to 12 oz. per day and tea to 2 cups per day.
In general try to eat well balanced meals from all the major food groups, especially fresh fruits and veggies. Have no fear if morning sickness sabotages your best intentions. Do what you can. Your baby will take what it needs from you. Oh yes! You can get used to that idea. This is just the beginning! It is especially important to get the adequate amount of protein each day and to keep your iron levels up. We recommend this protein powder and this iron supplement.
Do some general lifestyle brainstorming for when the baby is born
Will you continue to work? What is the maternity leave policy at your place of employment? Will you want to potentially take some time off work and what will that entail financially for your household? These kinds of questions can be overwhelming and stressful. Don’t rush into anything at this stage. Just start thinking of possible options and you’ll get a feel for things as time passes and you get used to the idea of a baby coming!
Plan on when to tell your boss
This is a tricky situation and there are countless opinions on what to do. Ultimately there is no right solution, but think about the relationship you have with your boss, and how you anticipate them taking the news. Personally, I am a fan of telling them fairly early on. Your body changes can be unpredictable, especially in the early stages. Morning sickness might be pretty rough, and a boss knowing what’s going on can help if you need a few sick days, or to run out to your car and nap during lunch. Try not to fret too much about this one. There are laws protecting women’s rights, so most bosses are forced to be pretty understanding in this department. Again, follow your intuition and break the news when it feels right to you.
Go out to a nice restaurant with your significant other or girlfriends. Eat some delicious food (while you can still tolerate it!), talk all about your dreams for your family and for the baby. Go buy a baby outfit or gift for your little one. And one for yourself too. You’re embarking on an exciting, empowering, life-changing journey. Welcome to motherhood!
This post is sponsored by Theralogix, makers of of the TheraNatal line of nutritional supplements.TheraNatal supplements are specifically formulated to meet a woman’s unique nutrient needs before, during, and after pregnancy. TheraNatal prenatal vitamins contain the nutrients you and your baby need to support a healthy pregnancy. All TheraNatal vitamins are dye-free, gluten-free, and cost less than the typical insurance co-pay. Learn more at theranatal.com. Use this link to get a discount of approximately 15% off your purchase.
Adjusting to a new baby always comes with its challenges. Whether it’s your first or your fifth, you’re dealing with lack of sleep, hormone shifts, putting the needs of this new human before your own AND figuring out what your relationship with your partner looks like now that there’s another person in the picture. These are some of our favorite recommendations for new parents to ensure that everyone is practicing some self care while caring for their new bundle of joy.
Sleep is obviously the biggest hurdle so let’s tackle this one first.
- Hire a postpartum doula – this is an invaluable gift you can give to new parents that will help them get some extra zzz’s.
- Smart Nora – the last thing you need when you finally do get to lay your head down is to be woken up by your partner’s snoring. I’ve been truly AMAZED at how well the Smart Nora has worked to curb my husband’s snoring. It’s been priceless to not only get more sleep but also to not be annoyed at him for waking me up several times a night!
- You can see in the picture below how it works, the box powers it and hides under the bed and then there’s a pillow insert that inflates when he starts snoring and it moves his head just enough to get him to stop.
- The egg looking thing on our night stand is the sensor that detects the snores and activates the pillow.
- Eye Mask – I was one of the first supporters when this mask launched on Kickstarter and I can’t say enough good things. It completely blacks out the room which is so great when you are trying to get your sleep in at odd times.
Nourishing your body with good food when you’re new parents is almost as important as sleep. Some great gift ideas are.
- Home cooked meals – easy meals that can be frozen and popped into an oven or crock pot are ideal.
- Take out gift cards. Or how about this Katz’ deli meal you can order on amazon?!
- Gift card to a meal prep service. Either one that makes complete meals or one that sends the ingredients and you make the meals like Blue Apron. My best friend’s husband loves to cook and got sick of eating meals people brought so this was a great option for them, especially when he was on paternity leave and had some extra time.
- Grocery shopping – either offer to do this for them and stock them up with some staples or gift them with a credit to a grocery delivery service in their area. Instacart is one many people use and Amazon Fresh is a newer one.
- Nursing snack station – Fill a basket with healthy and quick snacks for the nursing mom (trail mix, granola bars, jerky, nuts, etc).
- A great book that outlines specific meals that are nutritious and healing during the 4th trimester is this one!
- Monthly subscription for healthy snacks or fresh fruit.
- House cleaning service!!! (This is the #1 recommended by all parents I interviewed!).
- Dog Walking Service or doggy day camp gift cards.
- Take the older kids somewhere on the weekend and/or offer to do school drop off/pick-up for a week!
- Laundry Service.
- Cloth diaper service (obviously check with them first on this one!)
- Monthly subscription for flowers.
- Amazon prime membership (check to see if they have one first).
Here’s where you can have some fun and do some pampering for both parents. Almost all of these ideas came from new moms!
- At home massage visit or spa gift card. There are massage therapists that specialize in postpartum.
- Since they will be spending most of their time lounging around the house, a really nice robe or set of pj’s is a great gift especially since baby likely already has tons of sleepers, treat the parents instead!
- Nice sheets or a cozy blanket (maybe even one to commemorate baby)
- Herb baths – Mom shouldn’t be using any bubble baths or bath bombs right after baby but an herbal bath that’s specifically meant for postpartum is a great gift. I love this one for sitz baths and this one for full tub soaks.
- One mom suggested a special body wash or shampoo to motivate her to take showers and practice that basic form of self care! Try an organic option!
- High end face wash and moisturizer to help mom feel fresh and self indulgent at the beginning and end of each day.
- Diffuser and essential oils.
Looking for some of the best deals for pregnancy, baby and even the older kiddos (and adults) in the family? I’ve rounded up my faves and will continue adding to this list as I discover more great deals!!
Other Fun Stuff
Comprehensive & Evidence-Based Childbirth Course from The Birth Hour
I’m so excited to announce the VIP launch of THE most comprehensive online childbirth course in existence! We will take you from the final weeks of pregnancy through postpartum and newborn care covering all of the evidence-based information for all types of birth, no matter what you are planning!
Then, we’ve got you covered when you’re going back to work with an additional six module Back-2-Work Breastfeeding Course that you will get completely free as part of enrollment in the Know Your Options Childbirth Course!
Lifetime Access + MORE Bonuses!
Oh, and you get lifetime access to everything! I’ve actually already had a few mamas who are still in the trying to conceive phase sign up because they wanted to be sure to get in on the course while they can! The cart for this initial launch will only be open for a few days because we want to give really personalized attention to this first group of students!
A couple additional bonuses: the first 100 students to sign up will get a special gift in the mail from Earth Mama Organics AND anyone who signs up during this initial launch will have a guaranteed invitation to share their birth story on The Birth Hour… I’ve never done anything like that before and probably never will again but I really want to hear from you about how this course impacted your birth!
Go Here For All The Details!!