Hi! We are Gal and Lauren, friends, and CoFounders of The Mom Juice, an empowerment network helping moms to prioritize self-care by making it more accessible in their daily lives. Over the next few months, we will be sharing our different personal experiences and approaches to the same major parenting milestones.
This month, we are focusing on one of the most personal topics of becoming a new mother: nursing and feeding. We want to share a timeline of our individual experiences during the first year because even though we took different paths on this journey, we faced some of the same unanticipated challenges. We hope that by sharing our stories, we can help navigate your way through this process because it can be an emotional one. The most important thing to remember is that whatever path YOU choose is the right one because YOU chose it!
Post-Delivery at the Hospital
Gal: I received great lactation support right away at the birthing center where the twins were born. The lactation team helped me figure out how to tandem feed by propping Lev and Shai up on rolled up blankets and pillows because they were too small to use the Twin Z pillow without some help. But most importantly, they helped me feel confident in my ability to successfully breastfeed Lev and Shai.
Lauren: After I gave birth in the hospital, Bella latched right away while Alexander had difficulty. I worked with a lactation consultant at the hospital, but he continued to struggle so we began supplementing with formula right away. It turns out that I also wasn’t producing a lot of milk. I was feeling frustrated and defeated with breastfeeding from day one, but was determined to keep at it and try absolutely everything before throwing in the towel.
First Few Weeks at Home
Gal: The high I felt after the twins were born faded when we returned home 2 days later. The nipple pain was unbearable, I was exhausted and dreaded every feed. I called a lactation consultant that I met at the birthing center and she came over on our first days back home. My biggest tip for moms planning to breastfeed is to have an appointment with a lactation consultant for your first day(s) home! She armed me with tools that gave me hope- nipple shields, warm compresses, milk expression and breast massages, to name a few. She was an understanding ear and an amazing cheerleader.
Nevertheless, the feeds seemed to last forever and at least one newborn was always eating! I felt clumsy with the nipple shield and the hand expression feeding technique was cumbersome. Both options were meant to give my cracked nipples a break so they could heal, but I was stressed out and unhappy. The baby blues crept in and I began taking it out on my husband. Before I completely unraveled, I decided to give pumping a try.
I was nervous to introduce the bottle before the twins were at least 1 month old from fear of nipple confusion, but I had to risk it. To my surprise, pumping instantly felt like a huge relief! My nipples got to rest and others could help me feed my newborns. I pumped every single time Lev or Shai took a bottle in order to establish my milk supply.
Lauren: When I came home from the hospital, I gave breastfeeding my all for two weeks. Just thinking about that time is making me emotional because I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself, which made an already stressful situation even heavier. No matter how hard I tried, my body wasn’t able to produce enough milk. Like Gal, I tried pumping every single time Alexander or Bella took a bottle to establish my supply…which seemed constant. I was pumping around the clock and had nothing to show for it. It was exhausting, frustrating, and defeating. I was angry…at everyone. After two weeks (and with some gentle encouragement from our baby nurse and the incredible support from my husband), I stopped trying to make the seemingly impossible become possible. When I finally chose to accept this, it was a huge relief…to everyone in my house! As soon as we started down this new path, I knew it was right for us because I immediately felt more present and connected to Alexander and Bella when feeding.
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Gal: As grateful as I was to know that I was producing enough for my children, feeding them became a chore. It was a very mechanical process and exclusively pumping twins felt like the worst of both worlds. Nipple confusion definitely happened and they preferred the bottle.
To top it all off, my son, Lev, had horrible reflux that made every feed with him even more of a challenge.
I was determined to eventually breastfeed again so I made sure to give them slow release bottles with wider breast-like nipples. I also offered the boob before their morning bottle. But at the end of the day, I was attached to the pump and that made the first few months a blur.
Lauren: Another unforeseen challenge in our feeding journey was Alexander’s acid reflux, which was heart-wrenching and made me dread feeding him because I knew it would inevitably make him uncomfortable. Because of his reflux, he had to take a different formula than Bella. Two different babies, two different formulas, two different nipples on their bottles. We had to do a little extra prep for every feeding and really had to implement a system to avoid mixing up their bottles. One simple thing we did was use nail polish to paint a stripe on the bottom of half of our bottle supply and made sure to use those for Alexander.
Gal: Between 4 and 5 months I noticed that Lev and Shai were getting more efficient during the morning’s nursing session and they didn’t drink much from the bottle afterward. Also, we were all sleeping the night (game-changer!) and Lev’s reflux was improving. Empowered, I began to offer the boob more religiously before their other feeds. After a few weeks of this, I found myself breastfeeding for 3 out of their 4 feeds. I was ecstatic! I was pumping less and playing with my kids more! I was more present and independent of them.
Lauren: Around 4 months, Alexander’s acid reflux began to improve and we were on a solid feeding and nap schedule. When I look back on this time, one of the things that I am able to laugh about now (even though I vividly recall the feelings of desperation and frustration while in the moment) is the different ways I tried to maneuver my way around feeding two hungry babies by myself at the same time. It’s funny how the question “what’s your favorite position?” takes on a whole new meaning when you become a twin mom! I guess you can say I was very adventurous, ha. I tried everything and put them in every available and accessible contraption—the Joovy Roo, car seats, nursing pillows, Mama-Roo, rockers…you name it! I tried kneeling on the ground, sitting on the floor, on a chair, standing upright, hunching over, holding them both in my arms…it became a workout in itself. I also learned that it’s rare to find someone who has the same tandem feeding method as you. It quite literally becomes survival mode, and you just have to do whatever works best for you at the moment. There really is no right or wrong way….however, there is always bonus points for creativity!
Gal: At around 6 months, it finally happened! Lev and Shai didn’t want their bedtime bottle, they only wanted to nurse! They kept pushing the bottle nipple out of the way and instead latched like pros! Looking back, I understand that they needed time to get older, larger and more efficient. I went from exclusively pumping for 6 months to exclusively breastfeeding for 9 months after that.
Lauren: This time period was an absolute game-changer for us. At 7 months, we successfully sleep trained Alexander and Bella, and we also weaned them off their nighttime bottles (cold turkey). Everyone was getting more rest and felt so much happier!
12 Months and Beyond
Gal: When the twins were 15 months old I weaned them and we never looked back. Did I enjoy my breastfeeding journey? Honestly, no. I never felt like it was a magical bonding experience. It felt mechanical even when the kids nursed. I couldn’t wait to stop breastfeeding, but at 12 months they didn’t seem ready (and still had no teeth) so it lasted a bit longer. Despite all that, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Breastfeeding does get easier and it is 1000% possible with twins! The La Leche League for Moms of Twins/Multiples Facebook group was also extremely helpful in troubleshooting any issues and staying motivated. I am in awe of what our bodies can do and breastfeeding twins for any amount of time is an incredible feat!
Lauren: When the twins were around 12 months, we began the switch to whole milk and gradually decreased the number of bottles they would drink each day. This was a milestone not only developmentally, but for our parental sanity and wallets! It’s crazy how expensive formula is and how quickly you go through it, especially with two babies at the same time. Also, making two different formula bottles all the time became such a part of our routine, that whenever I simply grabbed the milk from the refrigerator and poured it into their bottles, I always felt like I was missing a step at first. I got over that pretty quickly though!
If you are currently on this journey, our advice is to listen to your body and be confident in whatever path you choose! Expect the unexpected but do not accept defeat if things do not go according to plan. Know that there are people and places you can seek for support and that it may take some trial and error to find what works best for you and your babies.
We look forward to sharing more with you about our journeys and welcome any questions/comments @themomjuice!
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Lauren Carasso is a lifestyle expert, self-care advocate, and full-time working mom. Her professional background includes nearly 15 years in public relations working with entertainment and lifestyle clients. She is passionate about meditation, fitness, yoga, matcha lattes, and taking advantage of all that living in the NYC-metro area has to offer. Originally from New Jersey, Lauren currently lives in Westchester County with her husband, David, and 3-year-old twins, Alexander and Bella.
Gal Shyli is passionate about all things fitness, wellness and ‘mom life.’ She is a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator, pre/postnatal exercise specialist and motherhood coach who runs Embrace: Birth and Beyond. Self-care and community have been paramount in her life as a mom, and she hopes to empower others to prioritize both as well! Gal currently lives in Westchester with her husband, Seth, her 2-year-old twins, Lev and Shai, and she is expecting baby number 3 in May.
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