Breast feeding

Still feeding…

For a while I’ve been intending to write a sequel to my ‘thanks for the mammaries’ post that set out, in exhaustive detail, how I spent ten weeks getting to the point where I could exclusively breast feed Hattie and Joe. I know that a fair few twin mums, in particular, have found that post to be quite helpful as they’ve struggled to get their own breast feeding routines underway, which is great news.

I last updated that original post when the babies were seven months old. At that point things were going very well on the feeding front, so I’d decided to try to continue until Hattie and Joe were a year old and could transition onto cows’ milk.

When I was pregnant and looking for twin blogs I found this great post by Cara at Twinthusiam, in which she wrote about weaning her two girls at the 15 month mark. It seemed mind-boggling to me that anybody would be able to breast feed for so long, so it’s quite funny that we’ve now reached the 17 month mark, and Hattie and Joe still have a morning breast feed as soon as they wake up.

When we reached their first birthday we were down to three feeds a day: first thing in the morning; afternoon tea; and just before bed. Of these three feeds, the afternoon tea one was the first one to go – I swapped it for a drink of cows’ milk. The two of them seemed to really like cows’ milk from the start (although to this day they refuse to drink it from a baby bottle, and will only drink from a drink bottle with a silicone straw), but Hattie’s stomach rebelled slightly in the early days, producing some truly toxic nappies. I reduced the amount of milk and then reintroduced it gradually, and she adjusted. I was pretty happy to give up that afternoon tea feed, as the two of them were mobile by that stage, and were fond of latching on for a couple of sucks, and then unlatching and running around the living room before returning for another drink.

Not too long afterwards Joe started biting me very hard during nearly every feed. You’ve not known pain until somebody with six teeth has chomped down on your nipple. It was his not-so-subtle “I’m finished with this feed, thanks” signal, and it was very unpleasant. Hattie started only wanting to feed for a minute or so at bedtime, so the signs were clear that this feed would be the next one to go. I swapped it for milk from their drink bottles, and they were totally unbothered. They were definitely ready to drop that particular feed.

However, they’ve continued to be very fond of their morning feed. Tristan gets them out of their cots and brings them into me in the bedroom, and they’re completely disinterested in any cuddles or chatter: if I don’t get my pyjama top unbuttoned quickly enough they start grizzling and tugging at it. And since dropping the bedtime feed Joe hasn’t bitten me.

I really never thought that I’d still be feeding at this stage. It’s funny how these things become such a normal part of your day that you can barely imagine them not happening. This obviously means that I haven’t yet had a night away from the two of them – and man, I can’t even imagine how weird that will be!

I’d assumed that, as with the bedtime feed, they’d eventually wean themselves, or at least let me know that they were over it. So far there hasn’t been any sign of this happening, so I think I’m going to take the lead and declare the milk bar closed when we reach the 18 month mark. They obviously don’t need to breast feed any longer, and it would be nice to draw a line under the experience and accept that my babies are now little kids. Instead of a morning feed in bed, I guess we’ll get them out of their cots and take them straight to the living room for a drink of milk and some breakfast.

Just revisiting how they drink milk: when we started them on cows’ milk I decided that I didn’t want them to see it as a ‘meal’ – I was keen for them to view milk as a drink, like the rest of us do. For that reason the drink bottle of milk works well for us: they have approximately one bottle of milk a day, and are offered it after breakfast and lunch, and at morning tea and afternoon tea time. They’re then encouraged to finish it while having their bedtime stories on the sofa. They don’t always finish the bottle each day, but as they a) also drink water throughout the day, and b) also eat yoghurt most days, I’m confident that they’re getting enough liquid and calcium. The milk before bedtime is particularly at the moment, when they’re teething and being fussy with food, as I know that they’re having something nourishing before they go to sleep.

So that’s our updated breast feeding story: less of a determined tale of battling through the odds to keep the feeds coming, and more a case of taking the path of least resistance! And I don’t have a recent photo of me breast feeding my little big kids (although we’ll have to take one before the final feed), so here’s a shot of Joe about to get stuck into a ‘fluffy’ at a cafe (also known as a ‘babychino’ – frothy milk, basically).

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