Exclusively Pumping for Twins

Disclaimer: This post is about breast feeding. If you are not comfortable reading about this topic, feel free to close your browser right now – I will not be a bit offended! While this may not be relevant to a lot of you, I also know that there’s a handful of you who may appreciate learning about my experiences. When I was deciding how I would feed my babies, I was all ears to anything anyone who was willing to share, and simply want to pay it forward!IMG_0910

Okay, let’s begin…and you may want to grab yourself a cup of coffee…I have a lot to share!

I have three kids. My first pregnancy was a singleton, and I absolutely LOVED breast feeding him. He latched on perfectly moments after birth, it never hurt when I fed him, and there wasn’t even a minute when I second guessed my decision. It was the experience I had always hoped for. Each nursing session was full of precious bonding moments, when I would take my time and stare at how beautiful God had made him. He was such a content baby, and those nine months that I nursed him were absolute bliss (with the exception of when he got teeth and started biting! That’ll throw you for a loop!).

Seventeen short months after I had my son, my twin girls came into the world. Since my breast feeding experience with my son was wonderful, I honestly didn’t spend much time even thinking about what I’d do with them. I’d breast feed them, of course! I’m a stay-at-home mom. It should be no problem! I read a little bit about how to tandem feed, and thought that was the route I’d take. Minutes after Emersyn and Mckinley were born I advocated for them to nurse. I wanted them to learn to latch on from the get go. And they did. Even though they were so tiny (4.12 lbs and 4.6 lbs), they did a great job. For the next few weeks I kept tandem feeding, and while they latched on for the most part, it wasn’t as easy as it was with Baylen, and it started to just become too much for me. Instead of having this amazing bonding experience with them, I found myself stressed out by it. I was always looking back and forth, making sure they were both latched on, which took away the enjoyment for me. On top of that, since there were two of them, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t have a big enough supply. They seemed full, but I would always wonder. In addition to that, I consider myself a pretty modest person, and there is just no way to discreetly nurse two babies at once at family gatherings, out in public, when friends are over, ect. And then of course there was my toddler who I had to constantly keep my eye on, and if he needed help it was quite the process to unlatch the babies, set them down, and then run over to help him, only to have to go back and repeat the whole process of making sure they were latched on again.

I then toyed with the idea of breast feeding them separately, one at a time. However, I decided that wouldn’t have been the best solution for my situation either. I would have been a constant feeding machine. With three kids under the age of two, I needed to be efficient. I wanted to have enough time to also give attention to my toddler, without a baby attached to my boob.

Logically, my mind then went to bottles. Since I had a good supply of breast milk, I decided I’d pump and bottle feed them. I reached out to a friend who had exclusively pumped for her twins, and her advice helped so much. She had a similar experience to me, where she just didn’t feel the whole bonding thing through breast feeding twins. What a blessing it was to not feel alone! She helped me to get rid of any mom guilt I felt about not wanting to breast feed. She had successfully pumped for her twins, and it was just the encouragement I needed to make the leap.

Since then I have been exclusively pumping and bottle feeding, and it has worked so well for our family. When I’m alone during the day I put the girls in their bouncy vibrator seats or prop them on breast feeding pillows and feed them at the same time. When I have help or when my husband is home, I feed one and he feeds the other, allowing me to get to spend one on one time with each of them. It also allows Jake to feel like he can be very involved. He gets up with me every night and we feed them together, which makes those wee hours in the morning seem much more manageable. Since they drink bottles faster than they breast feed, it cuts the time we’re up at night almost in half. When we’re finished, I pump and go back to sleep.

Bottle feeding also allows me to more easily take breaks when I need them, which I’ll admit I NEED more often these days! Jake and I have been able to go on dates without thinking twice. I can just take the pump with me and don’t have to rush back to feed. Pumping in the car is where it’s at!

So far, I’ve had more than enough milk and have been able to freeze quite a bit. Not all women are able to produce enough, so I feel like I have been given an amazing gift to be able to provide milk for both of them. I like that I know how much I’m pumping and know that they are getting full each time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with them as they get bigger, but I’m just taking it a day at a time, and am thankful for the time that I’ve been able to provide breast milk for them so far. When the time comes, I have no problem going to formula (except that it’s so stinkin’ expensive!).

To expound upon that, I really am in no way against formula. I used formula for my singleton for three months and I’ve had several friends who have had great success with it from birth. I’m sure at some point I’ll go to formula for Emersyn and Mckinley. But for now breast milk is free, my girls are doing well on it, and I feel at peace sticking with it while I can. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I want to throw my pump in the dumpster because I am SO sick of being suctioned to the dang thing, and have likely gotten interrupted at least five times per session by screaming babies or a clingy toddler, but all in all I count it a blessing to be able to exclusively pump for my sweethearts.

Now that I’ve been at it for three months, I’m at a point where I have a pretty smooth system down. Here’s a sneak peak into how I make it work.

How I Keep Up My Milk Supply

  • I relax. If you’re gonna be a successful pumper, you HAVE to find a way to not hate it. Try to keep your mind off of it while pumping. Don’t stare into those bottles and constantly check how much you’re producing. Chill out. Find something to laugh at. When possible, I try to sit down in a comfortable position, and find something mindless to read or look at on my phone. 
  • I stay hydrated. I try to drink around 100 oz. of water each day, but that means I have to be intentional about it. I fill up a water bottle before I’m ready to pump and drink it while pumping. I get really thirsty when I start out, so it helps that I tend to crave water at that time too. 
  • I eat enough! I joke that I’m eating for three these days…because I am experiencing the hunger of my life! Breastfeeding is not a time to limit your calorie intake…so I eat pretty much whatever I want within reason. I eat a lot of oatmeal, which is supposed to increase your supply, and I also eat multigrain Cheerios. I also eat a lot healthy fats, such as the kind found in peanut butter, avocados, or hummus. I haven’t tried making lactation cookies yet, which contain all sorts of ingredients to help with supply, but I’m planning to give Courtney’s recipe a try within the next week! They look delicious!
  • I take Fenugreek tablets. I didn’t notice a difference at first, but then was encouraged to increase the dosage, so I take three tablets three times a day and I noticed an increase after that.
  • I try to get enough sleep. The more I sleep, the more I produce. Obviously its a little difficult to get excessive sleep right now, but I sneak it in where I can, and I notice an increase when I go to bed early or take a nap.

How I Make Time for Pumping

Perhaps my biggest struggle starting out was finding the time to pump with a toddler running around. It seemed like a marathon to feed, pump, and wash bottles, only to get finished and start the cycle over again. So, I try to pump at strategic points during the day between feedings, so it breaks up the time a little and I still have time to play with Baylen. Or I’ll pump while he’s occupied doing something else, like eating lunch or a snack, or while he’s napping.

I also pump hands free. In my opinion, an absolutely necessary item is a hands free pumping bra. I can multi-task no problem. I can pump and feed the girls at the same time. I can feed Baylen lunch and pump at the same time. I can even make dinner and pump at the same time (although that’s not my preference!). I have the Simple Wishes hands free bra, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it. I basically live in that thing…I have even pumped in the car while driving because of its handiness! Ha! Someday I think I’ll look back and think I was a crazy person when I think of all my pumping adventures!

Washing bottles and pump parts takes time, but during the day I keep my pump parts in the fridge, and pull them out when I need to use them. It saves me a lot of time when I only need to thoroughly wash them once a day.

I don’t warm up my bottles. Breast milk is safe at room temperature for up to six hours, so I pump ahead for the next session, get the bottles ready on the counter, and then just grab them when I’m ready to feed.

What Kind of Pump I Use

I have a Medela Pump In Style Advanced, and if you are serious about pumping a lot, it is the only one I’d recommend. It has the two phase expression technology which mimics a newborn for the first two minutes, then slows down and pumps. It also has adjustable speeds. I can confidently say that without this pump I wouldn’t have as big of a milk supply. I actually had a very basic Medela that I got for free through my insurance company that didn’t have the two phase expression technology and I produced 2 oz. less per session. The Pump In Style Advanced is a bit of an investment, but if you are exclusively pumping it is definitely worth it.

How I Store Extra Breast Milk

I do not waste an ounce of milk! Anything extra I put in an 8 oz. bottle in the fridge. When the bottle is full I put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. Breast milk stays good in the freezer for up to 6 months and in the deep freeze for up to a year. If a day comes when I’m not able to keep up with my girls’ demand, I will supplement with frozen breast milk. Or, if Jake and I want to take a trip at some point I’ll have plenty to pull from!

How to Prevent Clogged Milk Ducts

Early on, I had lots of battles with clogged milk ducts. My lactation consultant said that some women have a thicker consistency of milk, so we are more likely to get clogged ducts. And since the pump doesn’t empty out the breasts as thoroughly as a baby, that’s another reason why its a bit more likely to happen when pumping. If you’ve had this happen before, you know it is painful and definitely not something you want to be a repetitive issue. I’d recommend doing the following if you want to prevent it from happening:

  • Wearing a properly fitted bra. If your bra is too small, it will put too much pressure on your breasts and cause you to get backed up. 
  • Take Lecithin. My lactation consultant recommended this to me to thin out my milk, and I haven’t had any problems since taking it. I take a pill three times a day – its available OTC at any drugstore.
  • Don’t sleep on your tummy. Again, putting pressure on your breasts could back them up. I have had this happy several times, even when sleeping on my side, so I need to be extra careful.
  • Apply lanolin after each pumping session. It not only prevents you from getting sore, but also keeps the ends of the ducts open.
  • I swear by homemade cloth nursing pads. It keeps everything feeling comfortable. My mom made some for me, but there are a lot for sale on Etsy.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure after I post this I’ll think of something else, but if you’re in the midst of deciding whether or not to exclusively pump, for twins or for a singleton, I hope this gave you a glimpse into how it works for us. I truly think each mom needs to decide what is best for her and her kids. You are the only one who knows what your kids need…don’t let someone else guilt you into thinking it has to be done a certain way. You need to do what makes you a better mom, whether that’s breastfeeding, pumping, or formula feeding!  There is no wrong decision. Follow your instincts, pray about it, be confident in the way you feel led, and the Lord will bless your choices.

If you have any questions about exclusively pumping, or have a tip to share that worked well for you, please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. I would love to talk with you! 

If you’ve stuck with me this long, thanks for hanging in there…

Happy Pumping! :)

Amber

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31 comments

  1. Urban Wife

    Such an informative post! Thanks for sharing it. I try to pump just about every day for our baby (singleton) to have a bottle or two for my husband to give him. I have found that it makes my husband not feel as “left out” of the feeding process, since there have been countless times where he has said he wishes he could be of more help in that respect. It also helps with when I run an errand and don’t want to stop in the middle of, say, Target to breastfeed him – I just take a bottle and keep shopping happily without feeling rushed! By the way, I clicked over on the link for the pumping bra and it just cracked me up! I didn’t even know things like that existed but that’s great! :-)

    • MommysMeTime

      I think it is so awesome that you are pumping some to give your husband an opportunity to feed the baby. What an amazing gift that is to all of you! I totally agree that it is so nice to not feel rushed when you’re out and about! And yes, the pumping bra is pretty funny – not the sexiest thing alive, but very practical! :)

  2. Emily Brown

    Thank you Amber!! I’ve been pumping for 10 weeks now & still learned a lot! Can you elaborate on how you freeze the leftover?

  3. Kim Goslinga

    thank you for posting this Amber! I am in the same boat with exclusively pumping for Cade because he was a poor nurser. It’s a big job to only pump, but worth it for us! Great advice… and it’s nice to know that I am not the only one continuously hooked up to a Medela :)

  4. kayleigh

    You are amazing. I hated pumping for my first, so didn’t with my second. But maybe I will try it out with my third – the hands-free bra is a great idea! Thanks for all the info!

  5. Courtney

    Amber, this was so interesting for me! You are amazing and I really do pray that you would continue to have wisdom on all the choices that are best for you and your babies! And you will love the cookies!!

  6. Angie

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and I enjoy it. Your kids are adorable. I have a 8.5 month old boy and I stopped nursing around 7 months but he made it to 8 months with what I froze. It was so disappointing when my supply stopped. I had over 40 bags frozen at one point and my husband left the freezer open when we went out of town. I was so upset. You can only do what you can and try your best. We’ve had good luck with the Target brand gentle formula. We were using gentleese for awhile but its expensive. My little one has a sensitive stomach but he’s been keeping it down.

    • MommysMeTime

      Hi Angie! How awesome that you were able to nurse for 7 months and feed him breastmilk for 8! Wow, what a blessing. Bummer about the freezer being left open…I would have been mad too! I’m so glad you found a brand of formula that works well. I’ll have to look into the Target brand when we get to that point with the girls. Thanks so much for your comment and for reading my blog!

  7. Brittany

    Amber- what a blessing to be able to pump for your sweet girls. :) I remember with Bruxy feeling like I could conquer the world when I switched to a hands-free bra! Love it. What a very insightful post! :) and you look so great in that picture! :)

  8. Destinee

    Stumbled over ur blog from my SILs IG and have checked in a couple times…this was a great post. I pumped for 11 months with my first son and now am doing the same with my newborn…BF never came easy and I didn’t really enjoy it but wanted the health And cost Benifets of breast milk. I too had to deal with the “mom guilt” of not BFing but my hubby kept saying “same stuff diff package” haha it helped. Great blog!

  9. Emily Jensen

    I am almost in tears right now! My sister-in-law Laura Wifler and Madison both recommended that I talk to you and read your blog because I am having twins in December that will be 17 months apart from my son. In some ways I feel like a complete weirdo. Who has 3 kids under the age of 2?! I’m so encouraged that someone else has done it and IS doing it! You are alive and well! Also, breastfeeding has been one of the most stressful things for me to think about. I breastfed my son, and although it was a good experience, I really struggled to keep it up and I hated pumping. When I switched to formula at 5 months, I finally felt free and normal again. After I found out about the twins, and having first hand experience about how majorly expensive formula is, I had a little panic moment when I realized it isn’t financially wise for us to formula feed those little ones and I need to be committed to breastfeeding as long as possible. That trapped feeling came back, and I still feel confused about feeding, pumping, and keeping watch over a curious toddler all at the same time! THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this post because it really encouraged me and gave me practical ideas about how to feed my twins breast milk while still maintaining some normalcy. I had been toying with the idea of pumping exclusively after my supply was established, and this has given me the push I needed to research it more and purse this option more seriously when the time comes. Don’t be annoyed if I post more comments or questions in the future or email you (even though we are only loosely connected by acquaintances)…it’s so nice to know there is another Christian mommy out there trying to do life with lots of littles!

    • MommysMeTime

      Hi Emily! I am SO excited you reached out! I think I may have too much to say for a comment, so I’ll be sending an email over your way shortly…SO excited to “meet you” and know someone who will be in the same boat as me!

  10. jessica

    thanks for this post, amber! i have felt pretty guilty for not really liking breastfeeding with my little one and my milk supply is dwindling. you have inspired me to dust off my pump and buy a sexy hands free bra to get my supply back up! thanks!

  11. Kara K

    Props to you for pumping! Very early on with my son we would “nurse” and then I would pump and give him some more with a bottle. He wasn’t great at nursing and it took a long time for him to get the hang of it. I remember feeling like there was an endless parade of washing between pumping parts – bottles – etc. Keep up the GREAT work. Pumping takes true commitment.

  12. HEATHER

    THank you so much for your post! It is very inspiring. My 3 kids are very similar to yours, my toddler was 19 months when my b/g twins were born. Now, they are 6 weeks and she is 20 months. I am exclusively breastfeeding and was like you, I tried bf, but they fell asleep at the boob and I could not feed both of them quick enough. I love the tips you suggest for helping. I do have a question—did you ever have the feeling that your breasts were so full and sore, even after pumping for 20 minutes. I have this feeling right now and they are so sore to touch and have blue veins on them and it feels like masses built up. It might be an infection, but not sure. Any advice or places to look for help? Thanks in advance.

    • MommysMeTime

      Hi Heather! Congratulations on your twins! Wow, we do have similar situations with the toddler and infant twins! From my experience, it sounds like you might be experiencing clogged ducts. Is it in one breast or both of them? What worked for me when this happened was to stand under a hot shower and express until milk came squirting out, and then I would pump the rest out. Also, I’m not sure what type of breast pump you have, but make sure the flanges are big enough. I have a Medela and had to go up to a bigger size because my breasts weren’t draining properly, and after I did that it made a world of difference. I also had to start taking lecithin to thin out my milk because I kept getting clogged ducts and that helped too. My lactation consultant said some women are prone to have really fatty milk which can cause clogged ducts. Putting a cabbage leaf on the tender breast also helped to ease the discomfort. I’m so sorry, I know it can be discouraging when that kind of things happens. Good luck and please let me know if you have any other questions! Keep up the great work – you can do it momma!

  13. Krystal

    Hi Amber. How many ounces do you pump in one session? How long do you pump for each session? I am currently bfing and pumping since I returned to work. My little one is almost 5 months old and I want to make sure I am producing enough. If not I might have to try fenugreek.

    • MommysMeTime

      Hi Krystal! I would pump between 8 – 10 ounces per session, but I was pumping for two babies. I would pump for about 15 – 20 minutes or until I had about two let downs. Fenugreek worked for me, as did Cheerios! Good luck to you!

  14. KATIE

    Hi! I just gave birth to twins 6 days ago. They are unable to latch properly and this blog is the answer to my prayers. I may have missed it in the reading but how often did you pump, every how many hours and for how long?
    Thank you so much!

    • MommysMeTime

      Hi Katie! Congratulations on your twins! Thanks for stopping by my blog…I’m so glad it was helpful! I would pump every three hours for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until I had two let downs. I would say as much as you can pump in the beginning the better until your milk supply is established. Sometimes I would pump for 25 – 30 minutes if I had the time (which I know oftentimes you don’t). You will do GREAT! So proud of you…keep up the GREAT work!

  15. Sophie

    Hi Krystal,

    How many ounces would your babies eat? Seems like you had enough to freeze which is great! Did you ever re-feed left over breast milk at the next feeding? Sometimes my daughters don’t finish all their milk and I hate dumping it!! If yes, how did you handle the milk?

    Also how can you tell whether the flanges are to small or to big?

    Thanks in advance!!

    • MommysMeTime

      Hi Sophie! Sorry it’s taken me a bit to get back to you! It seemed like my daughters ate around 4 oz each for a while, and yes, sometimes they wouldn’t drink it all and I would reuse it. I know some people say not to reuse it, but this is what I did: Any leftover fresh milk I would put in an 8 oz bottle in the fridge. Then if I was ever short at a feeding I would supplement with that. If I didn’t need to use it and it would reach 8 oz, I would freeze it.

      If the flanges fit well they should be comfortable and shouldn’t feel like they pinch at all. I was told that your nipples shouldn’t get stuck when you’re pumping. Good luck!

  16. Karis Thomas

    Amber, I cannot thank you enough for such a genuine, detailed, heart felt post. I truly feel that The Lord led me to it, as it was exactly what I needed to hear. I have 10 day old twin boys and a 2 1/2 year old toddler. My experience with breastfeeding my son was exactly the same as yours…I loved every second of it and was blessed enough to do it for a full year. I thought it would be the exact same with the twins, but they have been struggling with latching on, and usually our nursing sessions end in tears after an hour and a half. I feel like I am neglecting my older son and I feel guilty for not having the same feelings about breastfeeding the twins as I did with him. I have good milk and have contemplated exclusively pumping, since I am basically doing that now anyways, but I have such mommy guilt about it, and I’m not sure why. I am letting the guilt of not breastfeeding take away from the joy of my precious new babies. I just wanted you to know how encouraging your post was to me. I was wondering about your pumping schedule…since I am in the beginning I am pumping every 3 hours for 15mins, but I wanted to know if you kept doing 3 hours or if you eventually can pump less than that? Also, right now I’m getting about 3 oz out of each breast, but they are so tiny they only eat about 2 oz per feeding…once they require more milk though, does your body just start producing more? As far as the pumping itself goes, I have a Medela PISA and was wondering if you ever used the button to go in and out of the two suction modes? Or did you just turn it on and let it run it’s cycle? Did you try and pump on the strongest setting? Thank you so much again for this post and your encouragement! I feel so much better in knowing I am not alone.

    • MommysMeTime

      Hi Karis! Congratulations on your twins! I’m so glad you found this post. It sounds like we had very similar experiences. I exclusively pumped until my girls were six months, then I switched to formula, but up until I quit I was still pumping every three hours. And actually they still eat every three hours. They are still pretty tiny for their age so I’m guessing their tummies may not be big enough yet to go longer. I did gradually start producing more, although I’d say my milk production seemed to level off after the first three months or so. At my peak I was pumping 8 – 10 ounces per session. I did use the button on the Medela to go in and out. And yes, I usually used the strongest setting. I would start out on a lower suction while it was going fast, then when it slowed down I would turn it up full suction. Blessings to you and your sweethearts. If you are interested, I’d love to invite you to join a twin mom support group I’m on on Facebook. If you’re interested shoot me an email to ambermkuiper@gmail.com and I’ll send you more info! :)

  17. Mallory

    Thank you so much for this amazing information! I just gave birth to b/g in December and also have 2 year old daughter running around so I can totally relate. I breastfed both babies at the same time for the first 4 weeks, but it was no easy task. Each feeding took up to an hour and my son had such a difficult time latching. It became stressful and exhausting every time that I dreaded feeding. I came across your website and immediately decided to do try exclusively pumping. It has worked so well for our family! Thanks again! Look forward to more posts about your family! :)

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