Breastfeeding Through One Twin’s Congenital Heart Disease and Open Heart Surgery

jenznicupic The decision to breastfeed my twins was automatic; it never occurred to me not to nurse them, and despite the fact that it was two babies, I never worried for a second that I would not have enough milk. I actually worried that I would have too much. I blamed my extreme oversupply and forceful let down (spraying, really) for the reflux-like symptoms and months of non-stop screaming that my first two singletons had endured (see for more information). That, combined with milk protein allergy issues (MPI), made our bundles of joys, bundles of screams. My first son was a failed breastfeeding relationship after 4 months due to the inability to control the MPI and to get the blood out of his stool. Nothing I did would stop the incessant crying. The moment we switched him to hypoallergenic formula, all his symptoms stopped and he was like a different baby. I powered through with my second son, a strict dairy and soy elimination diet controlling the MPI. Somehow I endured the 5 months of screaming that went on all day long. Once past the first few months, we had a beautiful breastfeeding relationship, and I nursed him until he was 20 months old and I was 12 weeks pregnant with the twins.

I could not imagine dealing with two babies who cried nonstop and feared I would lose my mind, but I was still determined to make something work. Nursing was something that was very important to me, and since there was a very good chance due to our placental share issues that the girls would be early, I wanted to give them the healthiest start I could. I attended a LLL meeting specifically for multiples to discuss my concerns and see some tandem nursing in action, and I looked at photos of moms tandem nursing to get an idea of how it all worked. Right from the onset, I adopted a flexible mindset. I intended to do some bottling of breast milk, along with nursing to keep them flexible and to give their systems time to adjust some to my high flow. Within a few months, my goal was to have them fully on the breast. Little did I know how important these decisions and this attitude would be for our situation, and how beneficial my overabundance would be.

My mo/di twins, Kaylee and Madelyn, were born 5 weeks early. After dealing with placental share issues from week 19 onward, we were thrilled to have made it to 35 weeks. Continue reading

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Amazing Power of Skin to Skin Contact!

It’s Kangaroo Care Awareness Day, which makes today a perfect day to celebrate all the benefits of early skin-to-skin contact (SSC)!

Benefits of skin to skin on healthy term babies  as listed by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, in her book Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers include:

  • More success with latching on to breastfeed;
  • Greater likelihood of baby breastfeeding well;
  • Up to 10 times less crying;
  • Better regulated temperature and blood sugars;
  • Longer duration of breastfeeding relationship.

NPT-Facebook mama Carrie does kangaroo care with her monoamniotic preemies!

Studies in recent years have shown benefits to mothers as well, including reduced postpartum depression and increase in positive feelings! Other benefits to mom may include increased milk production when pumping for preemies! (Mohrbacher)

Not only do healthy term babies and new mothers reap benefits from SSC, but the benefits to babies born early are astounding! Continue reading

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Olivia’s Roadside Breech-Footling Surprise Twin VBAC

Some things:  My first baby, Bruin, was born in 2009 via cesarean, and I feel it was truly unnecessary- a standard cascade of interventions story.  I knew within months of his birth that my next child would be born at home.  There are lots of reasons, but that is not the subject of this particular story; I could fill pages with my reasons.  Ultimately I have my sweet boy (and his birth) to thank for my more recent birth experience (and so much more!).  Anyway, we live in a very rural area, and the closest home birth midwife I could find was 1.5 hours away.  The team was amazing, though, and so worth the trip.  I was measuring consistently ahead in fundal height early on, and just before the mid-point of my pregnancy, my midwife referred me to an obstetrician to have an ultrasound (we’d not planned on having any) to rule out twins, fibroids, excess amniotic fluid, or any other complications.  At the ultrasound, we were told there was “definitely” one baby, no fibroids, and no excess fluid- the doctor said I simply had “a large uterus.”  We went with that as confirmation. Continue reading

Molly’s Cesarean Birth of Twins (complete placenta previa!)

So, I was pretty much considered a “high risk pregnancy” from the start. “Advanced maternal age” at 39, conceived via IVF with ICSI (although it’s controversial as to whether this confers any/much additional risk or not), and twins. Conceiving had been so awful (three years of infertility, multiple failed attempts, arguments with my husband who didn’t want to do IVF, tens of thousands spent, finally a pregnancy with my first IVF that then miscarried before I conceived the twins on my second IVF attempt) and it had been so far from natural that I really wanted to just have a normal, natural delivery. This was my first pregnancy (not counting the miscarriage), but I’d had a huge fibroid removed a few years ago. Still, they hadn’t cut into the wall of the uterus with that, so I was assured that there was no increased risk with a vaginal delivery.

Baby A was head down from the start. And I was seeing an acupuncturist for morning sickness who assured me that she had had success in the past with using acupuncture and moxibustion to turn babies closer to term if one of them was breech. So I had high hopes for a vaginal delivery. So at my 18-week anatomy scan, I was disappointed when they said it looked like I had a complete placenta previa (PP). Continue reading

Nicole’s Cesarean Birth of Twins (due to HUGE fibroid!)

When I was 12 weeks pregnant I went in for my first ultrasound. As I eagerly watched the screen, the technician tried both an abdominal and vaginal ultrasound, yet no baby appeared. She quietly went and got the doctor who also tried both methods of ultrasound and still no baby. The doctor quietly apologized and told me I had lost my baby. This made absolutely no sense to me because I had no symptoms of miscarriage, but the doctor told me there was no possible way my baby had survived and scheduled me an appointment at the radiology clinic at the hospital for the next morning to decide what steps needed to be taken next. The next morning my husband and I went to our radiology appointment and two minutes into the ultrasound the technician asked what I had been told the day before. I tearfully told her that I had been told that I had lost my baby. She turned the screen to me and said, “Honey you have twins! They are right there and there are their heartbeats!” Talk about a whirlwind of emotions! She then told me that I had a fibroid tumor the size of a baseball, which must have been blocking the babies the day before. Continue reading

From “No way” to “Best way for me” – my journey to twin homebirth

I wanted to share my story here so that those who do not understand why someone might choose to homebirth multiples could have a little more insight into the decision-making process that goes into it. This essay isn’t to convince anyone to birth at home, or that home is superior to hospital, or that homebirth is the better way for everyone. I simply want to help show one example of why someone might choose to birth at home, since that is a voice that is frequently excluded from mainstream multiples groups. -Christy


Around three years after the planned homebirth of my third child ended in an unplanned and traumatic cesarean, my husband and I began talking about the possibility of having another baby. For many reasons, physical and emotional, my cesarean had been particularly traumatic, so I was only interested in conceiving again if VBAC was a safe option and a reasonable possibility.  I connected with ICAN and researched PubMed articles about VBAC safety. After realizing that VBAC was a safe option and that I was a good candidate, we began trying for our fourth child.  Within a month, I was pregnant!

After exploring different kinds of providers, I found out that most of the local hospitals had VBAC bans in place, and others had no doctors who supported VBAC. With all of this in mind, I decided that I felt most comfortable with, and most likely to have my VBAC plans honored by, a certified professional midwife (CPM). In my state, CPMs were licensed and could legally practice; only after contacting several local midwives did I learn that  my state’s health department had banned  midwives from attending homebirths against the recommendation of its own midwife accrediting agency and even though midwives had been attending VBACs legally and without complications for years before. Eventually, after much research and prayer, I found and hired an out-of-state midwife and made plans to drive up in labor and birth somewhere closer to her.

That was it. My plan was settled… or so I thought. Continue reading

Hands-on Pumping

Are you pumping for your twins, triplets, or more? Did you know that hands-on pumping can help you increase your output?

Checkout this great video from Stanford University’s Newborn Nursery to learn how to use hands-on pumping techniques to maximize breastmilk production!

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Breastfeeding Premature Twins

Breastfeeding my Twins Despite Their Prematurity
by Lindsay Castiglione

After an emergent c-section at 30w3d due to fetal distress of my baby B, I had a deep fear that breastfeeding my twin boys would be impossible. I had read Mothering Multiples, so I had at least a little leg up on the average mom to preemie multiples, but I still thought it was a long shot with 30 weekers. I was lacking confidence in my body – it had failed me in carrying my babies to term, so what if it just didn’t measure up in the breastfeeding department as well? I still set out determined, using the fact that providing my babies breast milk was one of the major ways I could be involved in their care as motivation.

My journey of breastfeeding began with an intimate relationship not with my babies, but with my Medela Symphony rental pump. Continue reading

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Sarah’s twin homebirth (prenatally said to be mono-di)

I feel like I can’t start this story without mentioning Eloise’s birth. The two feel very connected to me, a continuation of sorts. It was through her birth that I had come to meet my midwives and this story would have been completely different without them. I also feel that Ella’s birth happened the way it did so that this birth could have the ending it does. Onward to the story of the boys…..

When I found out I was pregnant I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Eloise was just over a year old and I was still nursing her and hadn’t planned on weaning anytime soon. I knew we wanted to grow our family in the future but I wasn’t quite ready just yet. I made an appointment at the birth center and hoped that my midwives would agree to do another homebirth. When I arrived at the birth center R was out so I got to see and talk to S. It was really good to see her and chat about everything. When I was getting ready to leave I asked if we could listen for the heartbeat but S realized that she and R had both left their dopplers elsewhere and she asked if I wanted her to do a quick check with their ultrasound machine. I remember laughing about how high tech they had become and quickly agreed because I wanted the reassurance. She put the wand on my belly and paused, I asked if everything was ok and she quickly assured me that it was but wanted to know if I was positive about my dates. I was and then she showed me how thought she could see TWO heartbeats.

I was in disbelief. I convinced myself that the machine was old and that they were mirror images. A million thoughts were racing through my head but the thing that stuck out the most was that I was going to have to give up on a homebirth. I was going to have to take a million steps backwards and do something that I said I would never ever do again and resign to a hospital birth. I was scared. I set up an appointment for the imaging center to get a better ultrasound and spent the night and the next day studying ultrasounds of twins online. The next afternoon my husband took me to the imaging center to confirm what I already knew in my heart. We were pregnant with twins. We were told that they were likely identical and most likely monochorionic and diamniotic, which meant nothing to me at the time. I also got my first dose at how this pregnancy would be viewed by others when the radiologist came in to tell me how I was “too small to carry twins, they would be early, and I would be closely monitored throughout.” I was pissed. I didn’t want to be pregnant and I sure didn’t want to be pregnant with twins. I walked out of those doors and was instantly labeled “high risk”. Continue reading