Saturday, March 24, 2012

Baby Swimming Lessons

In an effort to get the girls out more, I decided to sign them up for baby swim classes! My local YMCA offered them for a great price and I decided it would be a great activity to help socialize them more, since they've been going through some pretty severe stranger anxiety issues. The first class went pretty well, but they cried on and off for about 10 minutes until they decided they "neutral" about it. The second class was this morning and went SO great! They didn't cry ONCE and even people!!!! Catherine seemed to enjoy it more, and splashed and played with pool toys like noodles and balls! Emily liked to kick but was VERY clingy to whoever was holding her. They both made a new friend who is 14 months old! We're all looking forward to next Saturday's class!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fun in the Sun

Yesterday was such a funny day! Raining and thunderstorms in the morning, and sunny and 70 in the late afternoon! So for a change of scenery, we decided to take playtime out to the back deck! The girls really seemed to enjoy exploring new things!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

2 babies + 1 bath = LOTS of fun!

The other day I decided to give the girls a bath together for the first time! I haven't done this sooner because I've been too neurotic. I'm still too neurotic to put them in the BIG bath together (I can just see one falling over and cracking their head open....) BUT I think we are just fine in the little bath! Plus we may as well use it as long as we can, they'll get too big for it soon enough!

They had SOOO much fun. I really think it was one of the best twin moments we've had so far. They laughed so hard at each other, splashed like crazy, made waves, stole rubber ducky from sister over and over. It was such a riot. You'd think bathing 2 babies at once would be quicker than doing one at a time, but that is SO not the case since I let them play together for so long!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Exclusive Pumping

***Warning - this is a post about boobs. If you're offended by breastfeeding, boobs or pumping, I wouldn't read the rest!

I went back and forth on deciding to make a post about exclusive pumping (aka EPing), but I REALLY think that some people, especially those that EP twins, could find some of my tips and tricks very useful!

I don't think that anyone, while pregnant, assume they are going to EP rather than breastfeed the "old fashioned way"! I certainly didn't. I am a stay a home mom and definitely thought that I would be 100% breastfeeding my girls, and just pumping "here and there" so daddy could feed them every so often. Yeah, plans change once baby (babies) are here! I love the health benefits of breastmilk for babies, and I thought the bonding would be wonderful.

Then babies come. They didn't latch well. AT ALL. Despite lots and lots (and lots) of help from lactation consultants at the hospital, we only had a few successful feeds via the breast, and we just had to supplement with formula. The girls were tiny and needed to gain weight. I understood this, and while I did NOT like the idea of formula one bit, I really didn't want to starve my newborn babies because they couldn't latch well at all. So the nurses and LC's had my husband bring my pump in so I could start pumping right away. It was really hard at first. Between trying to breastfeed two babies with a bad latch and pumping around the clock, feeding these girls was *the* single hardest thing about having newborns.

When we got home I cried to my husband. I thought breastfeeding would come so naturally, I mean, it IS the way God intended it. I tried breastfeeding before EVERY feed, but even if they did latch they were never satisfied. After my milk came in, I combined it with some formula since I wasn't making very much breastmilk yet. But I was happy that they were getting colostrum, even if it was just a little!

In hindsight, I wish I had pursued breastfeeding more. I wish I had gone back to the hospital to see the LC's again, or to meet with LLL. But I was exhausted, recovering from surgery, and honestly I was trying to adjust to being a new mom! Not only are these my first kids, I have NEVER babysat or had any experience with kids before this! The first diapers I changed were that of my daughters! So honestly, turning to the pump just became the easier option. The pump was there. It was expressing breastmilk, and my girls were satisfied after drinking a bottle. It made life easier.

After a few weeks, their latch DID get better, but again, they just weren't quite satisfied at the breast. They would nurse for 45 minutes then need to eat again 20 minutes after. And don't forget, this is x 2! If I had one baby, sure, I wouldn't mind BFing all the time. I am 100% sure I could have breastfed one baby and devoted ALL my time to it. Unfortunately, you can't give 100% to the baby you are breastfeeding while the other baby is screaming for attention. So what became the best option for US was to give them their bottle every 3 hours, and if after 1.5 to 2 hours later if they were rooting and seemed hungry again, I would breastfeed them to "hold them over" to the next bottle. This worked pretty well actually. I got to breastfeed and bond with my babies but they were still getting enough milk and I KNEW how much they were getting, which was important to me since they were just so small.

SO to make a long story short (yeah right, this is already too long!) we did this for a while, and after about 3-4 months, they stopped being hungry between bottles, so I didn't nurse. And that was that. We just sort of fell out of the habit and exclusive pumping became our new way of life.

One source of stress from exclusive pumping TWINS is, however, supply. If I had just one baby, I'd have a HUGE oversupply. I would honestly have to toss milk or donate it because my freezer would be overflowing. BUT with two babies, I *just* keep up. There was only one time around 4-5 months that I was making more than they were eating and I made a great little freezer stash which has served me well over the months! So here are some tips I have for increasing supply!

Tips for Increasing Supply
- Eat a bowl of oatmeal (not instant) with flax seed meal and brewers yeast mixed in every morning. It's like a lactation cookie but easier to make. And probably healthier.
-Drink lots and lots of water. This isn't hard for me, because I get insatiably thirsty before every let down. So drink a lot, especially while you pump. Keep a big bottle of water near you at all times.
-Play around with herbs and teas and find what works best for you. Fenugreek is very popular. I myself take More Milk Special Blend that has fenugreek along with a host of other herbs that are supposed to help with supply. The Goat's Rue is what helps me the most. This tonic also helps me quite a bit: Mother's Lactation Tonic.
-Some people turn to drugs to increase supply. You'll have to talk to your dr. about this. My dr. said the only one she knows of is Reglan but the risks outweigh the benefits. There is also domperiodone. I have tried this myself, but did not see any increase. Some people have great luck with it though.
-Pump, Pump, Pump! Especially in the beginning when you are establishing your supply, you need to pump *AT LEAST* every time your baby/babies eat! I only did every 3 hours for about a week, then soon realized I needed to pump every two hours. So I did every 2 hours during the day, and every 3 hours at night (every time the girls woke up for a bottle). Over time I kept up the every 2 hours during the day thing, but as the girls started to sleep better at night, I stopped pumping at night.
-On that note, if you have twins and REALLY need to keep your supply up, you really shouldn't go more than 6 hours without pumping, this includes night time. My supply was starting to drop at around 6 months and I knew I had to do something about it, so I started getting up at 2am to pump. I still do this. It sucks but it's only 30 minutes and I go right back to bed.
-Try power pumping! This is 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off for an hour. It mimics a cluster feed. This is helpful in the beginning when you are still establishing your supply.
-This is a crazy little drink that I have found REALLY helps with supply! I'm not the only one who has had success with it either, a few friends of mine have really had success with it as well! "If your breast milk is scanty, try this mixture of almond milk and herbs, soak ten almonds in water overnight. Then peel them, put them in a blender, add a cup of hot milk and puree them. Pour the almond milk into a glass and stir in a pinch each of ginger powder, cardamom and saffron and a teaspoon of date sugar (available in most health food stores) or honey. Drink this twice a day, morning and evening, to help strengthen the quality and quantity of your breast milk." Source:
- Make sure you love your pump! I started with an Avent double electric, but it really hurt a lot, was SO noisy, and I just didn't find it "fit" me well. I switched to a Medela Pump in style Advanced and I LOVE it. The best part about it is that you can purchase different size breast shields. I needed to go up 2 sizes from the 'standard' size and it has made pumping SO much more comfortable!

Tips to Achieve Success with Exclusive Pumping
-I truly believe that the only way you'll have success with exclusive pumping is to not hate it. Some people just hate pumping and in my opinion, these people will not be successful. And that's fine! It is CERTAINLY not for everyone. I feel like it's 2nd choice after breastfeeding, but a step above formula feeding. I myself just don't mind it. I never have. Do I LOVE doing it? not really. But it's just part of my daily routine now. I play on the computer (admission: I'm pumping right now!), crochet, catch up on my DVR, etc.
- You NEED, I repeat you NEED a GOOD hands free bra. At first I tried the old "hole in the old bra trick" and did not like it. Then I got a Medela hands free bra, but didn't like it because it didn't have shoulder straps. Then I found the simple wishes hands free bra. Best investment for EPing I've made. I literally wear it 24/7. I only take it off to wash it and to shower. It's essential.
-With a hands free bra, you can do a LOT of things while you pump. I feed both babies (one in a boppy next to me on the couch, and the other in the rock n' play sleeper in front of me) and pump. I have made dinner and pumped (although I don't love doing this!). I drive and pump all the time! In fact I prefer pumping while driving because I can't be interrupted and it kills two birds with one stone! What I do is wear my simple wishes bra, a nursing tank over that, and a loose shirt over that. I set everything up before I leave then turn the pump on and go! When I get to my destination, I find a private place to take off my pump things, put my milk in a cooler, etc.
-Another question that gets asked a lot is, what do you do with babies while pumping? Well the most idea time to pump is when they are napping, but that doesn't always work out. When they were very new, I used to just put them in the rock n' play or bouncy seats right in front of me and I just kept putting paci's in their mouth or tried to entertain them as best I could. as they get older it gets way easier. Like i said before, you can feed them while pumping or you can just stick them in a jumparoo or exersaucer! My girls will even play on the floor together while I pump.
-To avoid hassle during the day, especially when you pump a lot, keep everything in the fridge! The bottles, breastshields, membranes, etc. can all go in the fridge during the day so you don't have to constantly keep washing everything. I do a very thorough cleaning of all pump parts once a day, right before bed.
- For comfort, if you have the correct size shields and your nipples still hurt, use a bit of olive oil as lube on your nipples. Safe for babies and makes a major difference! (I haven't done this personally, but this was a recommendation from a fellow EP'er!)

Well, this was a novel so I'll end it here. I hope this was helpful to some of you! While I really don't think exclusive pumping is for everyone, nor do I think it should be your first choice after baby is born, I think it really is a great option for mom's who want their babies to have breastmilk but for whatever reason just can't breastfeed. I have been doing this for over 8 months now. My goal used to be a year but I honestly see myself going longer than that now. Happy Pumping!