When I was 37 weeks pregnant with my twin boys my feet were swollen, I gained 10 lbs in about 3 days, and my blood pressure shot up. At my prenatal appointment the next day, my midwife informed me it was time to get these boys out before I went into full-blown preeclampsia.
After 16 hours of labor, my boys were born 17 minutes apart. Even though I pushed out each twin, I had to deliver in the operating room in the event there was an emergency. My mom and husband were allowed in the room along with about 12 nurses and doctors (having multiples really cures you of any modesty). After the nurse held each boy to my face for a picture they were whisked away from me. My husband went with them and my mother stayed with me. About an hour later, I was brought up to the NICU to see them. I mentioned to my nurse that I wanted to breastfeed. She was startled that I would want to breastfeed twins, but immediately brought in a hospital grade pump. My husband and I spent the next 3 days going back between my room and the special care nursery, every 3 hours like clockwork. I tried to feed them but they were very tired, lazy late-preterm babies and I was a new mom with no clue what to do.
Coming home was not much better. That first year with my boys was a mix of tears, elation, and exhaustion. We eventually worked with a Lactation Consultant and I was able to provide most of their milk needs through breastmilk for that first year. I thought at the time that it was impossible to feed twins in public so I tried not to. I toted bottles of breastmilk around, a pump, and lots of burp rags, not to mention my two babies. At home it was much easier as the boys would often fall asleep after a feeding holding one another’s hand. However, I was thankful when that first year was over.
Fast forward to my daughter being born while my boys were still not quite 2 years old. She was born at 39 weeks and basically came out on her own with little pushing from me. She immediately breastfed, we had skin to skin contact that crucial first hour, and she never once had any formula (even when I went to Vegas for 4 days!). She continued to breastfeed until a little after 2 years old when I started back to work full time. It was very easy and natural to breastfeed her and always enjoyable.
My 2 birth stories and experiences with breastfeeding couldn’t be more different. When considering becoming a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, this is what drove me. I had both experiences. Of course hind sight is 20/20 and I wish I would have known then what I know now about the crucial first days of breastfeeding as well as labor practices and their effects on breastfeeding. Although we seldom control what happens during birth, at least we can be informed when presented with choices.