Thursday, January 20, 2011

Q&A Thursday: Breast-feeding


How long do you nurse your babies? What about during pregnancy? How did you nurse the twins?


I try to nurse each of mine at least a year. Sometimes it has been during pregnancy, which really increases the tiredness of those first few months, though usually, I'm not nursing a lot by that point. I do try to take a multi-vitamin and I drink milk -- calcium can be depleted by pregnancy and nursing.

Here's how long I nursed each one:

Lillian: 13 months (including 3.5 months of pregnancy)
Joey: 11 months (2 months of pregnancy)
Michael: 9 months (due to health issues, I quit earlier than I wanted to)
Allison & Sarah: 14 months
Eliza: 15 months (3 months of pregancy)
Harmony: 16 months (4 months of pregnancy)
(edited to add in 2017:
Katie: 15 or 16 months
Cami: 6 months (had to quit because of health problems with my thyroid disease)
Benjamin: 18 months)

For those of you who like that kind of thing, that means I've been nursing children for 86 months, over 7 years of my life. I think it's worth it. Nursing is a wonderful gift for a child. The health benefits are wonderful as is the bonding. And it's very convenient, with no bottles to wash or worries about leftover formula.

My kids are really active and tend to nurse more frequently than others, meaning it's hard for me to leave them for more than 2 hours at a time until about six months, when they begin solid foods. We usually bring our babies along on our dates until that point.

I've gotten comfortable nursing pretty much anywhere (with a cover-up, of course). The most exotic place was in the Louvre in Paris near the Mona Lisa. The most uncomfortable was probably when I was squeezed into a tiny seat on the 8-hour red-eye flight to get there.

I like to think I'm pretty discreet, such as when I was talking to another mom while nursing the twins. It wasn't until they'd finished that she exclaimed, "wow, I had no idea you had two under there!"

With the twins, I nursed them at the same time as much as possible, though at night, I only fed the one who woke up. Some twin moms will tell you to wake them both up at that point with the hope of getting up less at night, and I tried that in the early weeks. Later on, I wanted to get them used to sleeping as long as they possibly could, so I would only feed the one who was awake. In the early weeks, I used a nursing pillow and put them both in football holds, but as they got older, I was able to put one on one side and hold her and then lay her sister's head on the first one's belly. It sounds complicated, but it really wasn't.

I do have to add that the first month of the twins' life I was hungrier than I'd ever been in my entire life! It took a lot of calories to do that. I wish I could say I lost weight because of it, but I stayed at about the same weight the entire time, then gained ten pounds in the four months after I quit nursing them! I've never been able to lose weight while nursing.

Nursing is a wonderful thing, with plenty of scientifically proven benefits. It's also not nearly as common as I thought. I read an article today that said by six months, only 43% of women are still nursing even part-time and only 13% nurse exclusively.

I know there are many reasons women can't nurse -- I run into one of them myself when Michael was a baby -- and I don't think it's necessary to hammer home the benefits of breastmilk. There's enough pressure (and guilt) already in most cases. However, it is sad that breastfeeding rates in this country are so low.


Claire said...

I never lose any weight nursing either....what a bum deal! Katy has now gained 13 pounds since birth. Have I lost 13 pounds myself? Noo... At least she is getting the health benefits. And the convenience just really can't be beat.

Dina said...

You're the first twin mom I've heard of that didn't wake the other twin in the night. I didn't either. I tried to the first couple of weeks but I couldn't wake them up. And they wanted to sleep. DUH! I don't know how you would know when one of your twins is ready to sleep longer if you keep waking them up. The first night I DIDN'T wake up Austin when Adam woke, he slept from 10-5. I had been trying to wake him with Adam at 1:00, and 4:00, etc. Whoever thought up that advice anyway? :)


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