We are so grateful to Roisin and her partner Tom for sharing their experience with us and our readers. No two pregnancy or parenting journeys are the same and our new 'Real Talk' feature aims to provide parents and parents-to-be with reassurance and advice to support them through this amazing journey and to help ensure they don't feel alone in the challenges of becoming a parent.
Roisin has shared her story of breastfeeding her beautiful premature twin daughters. Her Instagram 'The Twins and Us' follows their journey of expecting the unexpected. If you're having twins, have had twins or are in need of some real parenting advice then 'The Twins and Us' is a great page to follow.
Our pregnancy journey was a bit of a rollercoaster; twins, SGA, growth restriction, early labour, emergency caesarean, post natal wound infection, surgery round 2, extensive NICU stay…I could go on. During the course of this loopy ol’ rollercoaster there were so many stand out moments for my husband and I where we found ourselves saying to each other “why does no one talk about this?”, “why is there not more support?” and “where can we find advice?”.
Out of everything, it was breastfeeding and pumping that really nearly broke us and that’s why I think it’s important to share our story. I didn’t have a clue about how to breastfeed, let alone pumping/expressing, or what that involved - I don’t even recall ever having heard of ‘pumping’ before one was wheeled in to my room in hospital!
I don’t think breastfeeding or expressing in practical terms is talked about in enough detail. Of course, I had seen many ‘uncover’ and similar campaigns, I’d seen those powerful images of strong women and real mums proudly breastfeeding flashing up across social media every so often. I always just thought “it’s a natural thing, it just happens, it looks so effortless”. Whenever I saw an image of a woman breastfeeding it just seemed to me it would just ‘click’. However, clicking was not the case, not by a long shot, I’m sure this is the same for many too; never had I really understood how incredibly difficult it would be to just start and to get a baby to latch. I didn’t even have a clue what that word, latch, used so frequently in my babies first few months of life, meant in breastfeeding terms!
I could never cover everything I learnt and came to understood in regards to latching, breastfeeding and expressing in one short post, but I can share a small snippet of general advice maybe which is of course you can never ever be prepared for the circumstances your pregnancy may lead to, as much as you may have your heart and mind set on delivering a certain way, feeding a certain way, you will never be able to entirely prepare for the circumstances of your birth and what your baby wants or needs!
Try not to get yourselves hung up or set on specific plans; be open and prepared for a scenario where whatever will be will be, your baby/ies will come in to the world when they’re ready, how they need to and you’ll feed them in whichever way works for you and them, whichever way you can! If you’ve decided you want to breastfeed - amazing, read as much as you can beforehand, watch videos about latching and hand expressing but also, and very importantly, read too about all the other alternatives, cup feeding, expressing, formula, tube feeding, combi-feeding, supplement nursing, cup feeding.
After a traumatic birth, both Christmas and new year separated from my family, my husband, newborn babies and alone in a room in hospital - I spent every waking minute reaching in the dark desperately trying to gather as much information and advice as I could in regards to the scenario I found myself in. How can I make my milk come in fast, how can I get a premature baby to latch, how can I feed my baby breast milk when my baby can’t latch, what pump should I use to express, how do you hand express, how much colostrum should I be producing? The questions where never ending and your scenario changes daily making way for more questions.
I wish someone had told me beforehand to do some reading on these subjects, be prepared for every scenario, I wish someone had sent me links to some of the best websites and forums available, I wish I’d known the equipment I may need to utilise but mostly I wish I’d have expected that breastfeeding is not as the internet often depicts, it can actually be one of the hardest things you may ever experience. Hard, but my goodness its worth it in the end, I managed to breastfeed the twins up to 7 months, one exclusively, one alongside her medically prescribed formula - the closeness breastfeeding brings you is unparalleled, I miss it!
Please feel free to get in touch with me at @twinsandus on Instagram if you’d like any more advice or information on the subjects I’ve touched upon - I’d be happy to share what I’ve learnt and who/ what I found invaluable along the way.