The benefits of breastfeeding have been well established. It offers the best nutritional value, confers protection against a plethora of illnesses, may protect against obesity and SIDS and decreases the risk of certain types of cancers in the mother.
However, there is a downside to breastfeeding and pumping. There’s so much pressure to breastfeed these days that I feel it’s almost taboo to say that. But these are the things that no one tells you.
- Being engorged is comparable to someone surgically implanting rocks into each and every one of your milk ducts.
- You’ll become obsessed with your milk supply. Low milk supply, oversupply, fast let-down, slow let-down, foremilk, hindmilk, Fenugreek… These will all become familiar search terms.
- Your baby will take delight in biting and pulling your nipple. You’ll be oddly fascinated at how far your nipple can be stretched.
- Your baby will also take great pleasure in digging her nails into your boobs and twisting your free nipple. She’ll probably even offer you a sadistic gummy smile while doing so. Your chest will look like a cat’s scratching post.
- Your boobs will differ in size.
- Both boobs leak when there’s a let-down. There will be many occasions when your poor baby will be drenched in your milk. (What a waste, you’ll sadly think to yourself.)
- Nursing can take hours, especially when your baby is going through a growth spurt. You’ll spend days in your pyjamas doing nothing but nursing. Your butt will become numb, your bladder will want to burst and personal hygiene will become a distant memory. You’ll eat while hunched over your baby and drop bits of food in her hair. (Or, if your aim is as good as mine, it might even land in her ear!)
- You’ll spend what little “free time” you have pumping.
- Your baby will wake up hungry after you’ve just pumped. Every time.
- You’ll get upset when your baby doesn’t finish her bottle of pumped milk or spits it up because she just wasted your milk which you laboured so long and hard for.
- It can take several pumping sessions just to get enough for one feed. You’ll obsessively save every last drop.
- You’ll feel anxious when your freezer stash of expressed milk starts to dwindle. You’ll begin to hoard your milk the way those people on Hoarders obsessively hoard cats.
- You’ll feel an odd sense of accomplishment when you see the fatty layer of hindmilk floating in the bottle.
- You’ll fantasize about all the things you can do with the time you saved by pumping instead of breastfeeding. Yet, no matter how many photos of your baby you look at or how many of her clothes you smell, your milk will stubbornly refuse to let down. By the time it finally does, you might as well have breastfed. (But your milk has no problem letting down at the most inconvenient of times, like when you’re shopping and hear another baby crying.)
- You need huge boobs to be able to comfortably pull off the football hold with twins. In contrast, I have to tuck a million pillows underneath my nursing pillow so that my twins have some hope of reaching my tiny boobs.
- Twins will try and gouge each other’s eyes out while tandem feeding. Eventually they will also figure out how to unlatch each other. The whole feeding session will consist of you trying to jiggle your nipples back into their mouths while attempting to restrain their hands.
- Being in the football hold is a prime position for the twins to try and launch themselves off the nursing pillow like a rocket.
- When you nurse twins you’re pretty much immobile until they’re both done. Your butt will lose all circulation. And the dog will take advantage of this opportunity and sleep on the furniture or dig through the garbage.
- If one twin poos while feeding, you’re left with a dilemma. Do you unlatch twin B to change twin A’s diaper? Or do you leave twin A’s butt to fester in her poop while you endure the smells?
- If you fail to tandem feed your twins, you’ll pay by spending the remainder of the day doing nothing but feeding them one after the other.
- Nursing twins in public is challenging. You can’t just discreetly whip out your huge nursing pillow and sit in a corner unnoticed! And the chairs in nursing rooms were clearly not designed with twins in mind. Your twins will either be crammed between the arm rests or floating on top of them.
Despite all this, I know I’m extremely blessed to be able to exclusively breastfeed. As my twins snuggle up to me at the end of the day, they reach out and hold each other’s hands. I feel the familiar tug at my nipples and the tingling sensation as my milk lets down. There’s a sudden furious suckling motion and they both emit little grunting noises that they reserve especially for breastfeeding. I smile. Breastfeeding has its challenges. But moments like these are so special.
I’m a twin mommy who will make you feel better about your parenting skills. Sign up for e-mail updates at the bottom of this page if you want to follow my journey into insanity. You can also follow me on Facebook.