Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Pump and Chain

During my pregnancy, I always wanted to nurse my twins.  I had breastfeeding experience, having nursed my son until he was 13 months old.  Breastfeeding twins would be much different though.  I read many books on the subject.  I also talked with moms who successfully nursed twins. 

It would be a challenge. 

But I was up to it.

Unfortunately when our babies were born early, things changed.

Prematurity complicates things.  Big time.

Like I said, my babies couldn't even eat when they were born.  And then even when they could, they could only take a few milliliters at a time.  And the breastmilk needed to be fortified to add extra calories to help them grow.

I started pumping 2 hours after my c-section.

I wanted my babies to have my milk. 
I mean, it was the least I could do for them.

I continued to pump around the clock.  I set my alarm to get up in the night.  I had an awesome supply.  2 days into it, the hospital informed me I needed to start taking my milk home because I had filled up their freezer. 

We bought a deep freeze.

And I literally filled it. :)

Then we started storing milk in our family members' freezers as well!

The pump went with me everywhere.  I pumped in all kinds of places.  Including the moving car.  (Man did I get some looks!)

Lets just say I definitely gained a new appreciation for dairy cows.  :)

I planned everything around the pump.  Pump as soon as I get up.  Pump before I leave the house.  Pump at the hospital, several times.  Pump before I go to bed.  Pump in the night.

Pump.  Pump.  Pump!

The NICU furnishes bottles for pumping moms.  100 to a box.  We went through 20 boxes easy. 

Thats 2000 bottles!

When it was time to start trying to nurse them, lactation provided me with preemie nipple shields.  These help to fit their tiny little mouths.  By the time we left the NICU, I was nursing Lenay a couple times a day, and we continued to do that for 3 months.  Campbell was a different story (like usual!)  She was on the specialized formula, and also needed thickened feeds due to her reflux.  I tried to nurse her anyway, but it just wasn't happening.  Nursing Lenay wasn't easy either.  Preemies sleep a lot, and keeping her awake through a feeding sometimes seemed impossible.  In order for me to keep my sanity, I ultimately decided that nursing these babies just wasn't in the cards for us. 

But I continued to pump for many months so my babies could have my breastmilk.  Campbell came off the Neocate after a few months and she was able to have breastmilk thickened with a product called Simply Thick, which can only be purchased through the hospital pharmacy.  I really recommend this product, by the way, even though it is expensive.  Rice cereal will not thicken breastmilk due to the enzymes in the milk.  I also tried a thickener called Thick-it, which was cheaper, but it made the milk lumpy.  Simply Thick was the only thickener that created a good consistency, and Campbell liked it.  It was totally worth the extra cost!

I really believe that my breastmilk helped protect my babies from sickness.  And when you are dealing with preemies, that protection can mean staying out of the hospital.

I pumped for many months.  It was tedious.  But totally worth it.

1 comment:

  1. I so, so, so do not envy you this. I had to pump for about 3 weeks with Mark because he wouldn't nurse, and I was just fed up with it after about 2. I got my supply up easily enough, but I couldn't seem to make myself keep cramming in 8 pumpings a day after only a coulpe weeks. I've no doubt it was even worse with twins.

    However I think dairy cows get it easy. They are only milked 3-4 times a day.