Having 7 kids, including a set of twins and a set of triplets, means I have been there and done that. I am more than happy to give you my favorite must haves for nursing twins and more.
The Mom of Many
When I was 22 years old, I discovered I was pregnant with twins. It was amazing, scary, exciting, and all new to me. I have never even raised a single kid, much less twins! All I knew was I had a lot to learn. Especially when it came to nursing.
The twins were born and it was amazing. I couldn’t believe my body made these tiny amazing humans! Being a mother was so wonderful and I loved every minute of it. Well, I take that back, I didn’t love trying to nurse and pump while taking care of 2 newborn babies. That was hard, but we made it through. A couple of years later I had another beautiful surprise of my son, Gage.
I may have been mistaken about how hard the twins were. Having 2 1/2 year old twins and a newborn was even harder. I still had to figure out nursing / pumping all while trying to keep 2 2-year olds fed, happy, and clean. That was a tricky one for me, but I did it and was proud of my family.
Then, yet again, I was shown that I had no idea how hard things could be when along came triplets and a NICU stay. Luckily the big kids were out of diapers and able to be more self sufficient. I have no idea what I would have done if they were younger.
7 months after having triplets I discover I am pregnant yet again. This time it was just 1 baby, but still! I then had 4 in diapers. 17 month old triplets and a newborn. Talk about hard. Nursing one is hard, add in 3 toddlers and things get real.
Here are some of my favorite items for nursing multiples
Being able to use my hands while pumping was a game changer. when I had my twins, 11 years ago i hated pumping because I had to hold the stupid flanges to my breasts. It was horrible. When the triplets came along I made a point to buy a hands free pumping bra while they were in the NICU. Let me tell you, It was worth every penny.
For my first 4 pregnancies I had Medela Pump In Style breast pumps. I had heard of them, I saw ads for them, and honestly that was all I knew. When my last little guy came along I had done plenty of research. Knowing that my insurance would pay for a breast pump, from a list of approved pumps, I looked into each one. On my list was the Spectra S2 pump. It was amazing. The only downside was that I was stuck to a wall, and with 7 kids I didn’t need to be stuck to a wall. The Spectra S1 is rechargeable, so you can take the pump with you.
Not every mom exclusively pumps, many are able to latch their babies on and feed them “right from the tap”. I have had a mixture of both throughout my years of babies. If you are able to latch your baby I am sure you will discover that when one breast lets down, they both do. Since I already had milk coming out of my non-nursing breast I figured I should try to catch it and use it. Putting it on can be a bit tricky, but with the help of YouTube, I was able to figure it out. I struggle with low milk supply so I was bound and determined to save every last drop to feed later.
As I mentioned above, when one breast lets down, they both do. For me that means if I do not have my Haakaa breast attached to my extra boob, my shirt gets wet. Nursing pads are a necessity for me. I hate to use disposable items if I can help it. So I chose to buy and use reusable nursing pads. With how often I have to change them, it was worth the investment.
Many woman wear sports bras while nursing. Since they are stretchy and easy to maneuver they find them the easier and cheaper to wear. I happen to have a large chest and struggle to stretch anything far enough to remove my breast. I am also very claustrophobic and just the thought of putting on a sports bra raises my anxiety. So for me, nursing bras are a necessity. Comfort is huge for me. I am a stay at home mom and most days I live in sweatpants, so comfort is life over here. These nursing bras are so comfy. I actually still wear them even after being done nursing. I am also very cheap and if I have a bra that works, I am not paying to replace it.
For my first few pregnancies I didn’t use a nursing pillow. Most of the time I would find an extra pillow and just haul that around with me. I do not recommend doing that. After using an actual nursing pillow I have seen the light. It make it so much easier. And I also don’t have anyone “stealing” my pillow and my having to hunt one down again. Because of my large chest, and stomach, combined with my short T-rex arms I almost always nurse in the football hold, it is just easier for me. Having a good nursing pillow really does make a difference.
It never fails, I pick up my baby, get all cozy, latch him on, and he poops. I generally like to change the baby half way through the feeding. I find they get a bit of milk in their bellies and start to fall asleep. Changing their diapers half way through wakes them up and reminds them to eat. Keeping a diaper caddy in my nursing area means I don’t have to get up, hunt down diapers and wipes, changing the baby, then getting back to my comfy nursing spot to finish. This means I can change my baby where I am, on the bed, on the couch, etc. It makes my life a lot easier having everything together and mobile.
I don’t know about you, but when I am nursing I am always starving, yet never actually eating enough. Calorie intake when nursing is hard for me. I always try to keep a healthy snack with my diaper caddy. Having a granola bar or a piece of fruit gives me something to eat, and i get to make sure that it is healthy. Just grabbing what ever “crap” food is available is kind of my M O. Healthy eating is not something that come easy for me. If I do not prepare ahead of time I can guarantee it will be junk food.
Drinking enough water is sooooo hard for me. On a normal, non nursing day I do not come near meeting my water goal. When nursing I am literally making milk, that is a lot of fluid needed. Keeping a water bottle in my nursing area helps remind me to drink more. I also put my then 7 year old on the task of keeping my bottle filled with ice water. He loved having a way to help me and was so amazing about filling it every time i nursed. It really was a huge help.
Having 7 kids, especially toddlers make reading hard. They have no respect for books. Enter Libby. Libby is an app for your phone to download e-books from your library. I was so excited when I discovered I can also borrow audio books. When I’m tired and struggling to keep my eyes open, listening to an audio book or podcast keeps my mind busy.
The only problem, not everyone else wants to listen to what I do. I found a good pair of blue tooth headphones really helped. I am able to keep my mind busy and not wake up my husband. One of us needed sleep and since I was nursing it wasn’t going to be me.
Tips to try and make nursing multiples a bit easier
Ask for help
Raising babies is hard. Having more than one at a time is even harder. You are tired, ragged, in need of a shower, and would do some sketchy stuff for a nap. I get it, trust me, I get it. As though all the normal hard stuff that happens when having kids wasn’t enough, I am prone to post partum depression. PPD is real y’all. It is real and it sucks, but it is very normal.
I know you might feel like the only one, but I promise, you are not. Millions of new moms go through PPD. It doesn’t mean you are weak, a bad mom, not made to be a parent, or any of those horrible things PPD lies to you about. It is normal. In my experience it was much harder with multiples, and even worse with a NICU stay. One of the best things I have ever done for myself was ask for anti-depressants before leaving the hospital with the triplets.
I knew it was going to be hard, and I was right. Our NICU was 1 1/2 hours from our house, and there was road construction on top of that. I had 3 kids at home with my mother and father (bless them) and 3 kids in the NICU almost 2 hours away. It was so hard. I am not sure how I would have handled it if I hadn’t been proactive and asked for anti-depressants ahead of time.
Know ahead of time the time nursing takes
Nursing is time consuming. You get bored, you get tired of doing it. It seems like getting your supply regulated will never happen. The first 6 weeks sucks. You are working on a latch, trying to keep your supply, getting used to it, and healing from birth. It is not easy and it takes time. Be aware ahead of time, this isn’t always easy and it is a process.
Double check your latch
Nursing shouldn’t hurt. At first it can be a bit uncomfortable as you get used to it, but it shouldn’t hurt. My youngest had a horrible latch and I had to re-latch him multiple times while nursing to help him latch better. It takes time but it is ok. I would rather spend a few minutes making sure we latched well over having pain.
Do not stress
Your body is made for this right? It should be easy, mothers did this work for thousands of years, this is why I have breasts. Yeah, no. It has never been easy for me. My milk supply has always been lacking. My short little arms don’t help at all. The more I struggle the more I stress. And the more I stress the more my supply struggles. It is a never ending circle.
Feed your baby. work on your latch, use a nipple shield if needed. Make sure you are eating well, drink plenty of water, and meet with a lactation consultant if needed. But try not to stress. I promise it will only make it worse. Nursing is hard and you need to figure out if it is worth the stress.
Know it is ok to feed formula
Every single one of my 7 kids ended up on formula. The twins, I was young and didn’t know what I was doing. Add in no support from my ex, and it was short lived. My middle single I was struggling in my former marriage and was just trying to make it, nursing was just another thing for him to complain about. The triplets, I was pumping every moment I could but never once made more than 2 ounces at a time and only kept my littlest in breast milk. By the time they were 2 months I wasn’t even making enough for him anymore. My youngest I made it 12 weeks. I was so proud of myself, but he had a crap latch and that was effecting my supply. I fought so hard to keep my supply up and when he wasn’t growing anymore and I wasn’t able to even pump enough to make a 1/4 bottle for him I knew it wasn’t worth it anymore.
Formula isn’t the enemy. It was my savior. There is nothing wrong with feeding formula. I was once told by a lactation consultant that everyone can breastfeed and if they don’t, it is because they really don’t want to. That is a lie. I wanted to, and I tried so hard. That type of talk is toxic, please know that they are fools and obviously need a different job.
Breastfeed, formula feed, pump, latch them on, it doesn’t matter. If they are happy and growing that is all that matters. In a few years they will all being eating nuggets off the floor or finding week old car seat goldfish anyways.