I knew right away that I was not going to force breastfeeding upon myself. This choice wasn’t because I knew tandem breastfeeding twins may be tough. This choice also wasn’t because I feared my girls may face latching issues or I’d have trouble with milk production.
I made my choice not to breastfeed because of these three factors: comfort, stress, and anxiety.
I also fully understand that how a mama feeds her baby is her decision and her decision alone. No mom should feel shamed or embarrassed or forced when it comes to this decision. If their little one is being fed, they are doing the right thing. Breastfeeding is fine. Formula-feeding is fine. Tube-feeding is fine.
In the end, breastfeeding just wasn’t for me.
“I Did Not Feel Comfortable.”
When I discovered I was pregnant (with twins nonetheless), the idea of breastfeeding was a miniscule possibility. I knew many, many people who breastfed their babies or had desperately tried and failed. I knew the nutritional value of breastmilk and, of course, I wanted my girls to be as healthy as possible. I had gotten a breast pump through my insurance company and my goal was to pump for at least the first three months of my girls’ lives – which I did.
The honest truth was this: I did not feel comfortable with the idea of my babies being physically attached to me and eating food I could not see them actively consuming.
For a while this truth was embarrassing. I wouldn’t admit to it and would simply tell others that I was just okay using formula – and that was that. Many medical professionals would continue to push breastfeeding on me while friends and family members would continue to tell me the benefits of nursing. When lactatios counselors visited me at the hospital and at the pediatrician’s office, I told every single one of them I would try to pump, but supplementing was fine with me.
I should have had a shirt made with that statement on it. The number of times I had to repeat myself was astounding. They would ask me why or try to convince me of the importance behind breastfeeding. Of course, I wasn’t going to come out and say I didn’t find the idea of nursing comfortable – in my eyes, I was incredibly embarrassed by it. I wished I had found it to be a bonding, comforting experience like so many other mothers had. Instead, it stressed me out even more when I forced myself to try and nurse.
The thing I discovered was even though I faced many mental health barriers during my first postpartum year, I still bonded with my girls. I realized how and what I fed my children did not impact the genuine connection I had with them.
Do Not Let Breastfeeding Become a Stressor
Since everyone and every social media outlet was yelling at me to breastfeed, I did feel additional stress when it came to at least trying to nurse my twins. So, I tried. I tried for two weeks. After those first two, postpartum weeks, I realized it just wasn’t working. While one of my twins would latch, the other wouldn’t. When one was eating, I never knew how much. And, as I’ve said, I didn’t find it to be a comfortable activity physically or mentally.
On top of my stressing over breastfeeding, I was also stressing over my c-section recovery, getting laundry done, doing all the dishes, meeting the needs of my babies, and finding time to attach myself to the wall to pump.
Oh, and finding time to sleep.
After two weeks, I decided to strictly supplement and pump. I was not going to let the voices of others impact how I fed my babies – or impact my sanity. I was already extremely overwhelmed with being a mom and I didn’t want breastfeeding to be something that further overwhelmed me. It was supposed to be a joyful experience and for me, it just wasn’t. I was not going to force something that simply didn’t feel right.
Obsessing Over Ounces
I have always been a pretty anxious person. So, when it came to figuring out how much my girls were consuming, I freaked out. I recorded absolutely every ounce they took in and, luckily, there were apps that kept track. However, when I attempted to breastfeed, I never knew how much my girls were drinking. I didn’t actually start building up a supply until five days after the girls were born so when they attempted to latch, I feared they weren’t getting any nutrition.
This drove me insane.
This was another reason I officially decided to stop trying to breastfeed. I did not need another reason for my anxiety to explode. Maintaining a healthy mental state (or at least trying to) was important to me - and should be important to any mom. When you are not happy and healthy, your little ones are impacted. They can sense negative tension and no one wants a stressed, anxious baby.
Instead of focusing and ugly-crying over whether or not my girls were consuming any breastmilk, I stuck to pre-measured, pumped milk and formula. I was able to pump for three or so months and then once the girls hit month four and went through a growth spurt, I could not keep up my supply. After month five, I strictly supplemented with formula.
And I couldn’t be happier with my choice.
Jennifer Aline is a coffee addict, mama of twins, and a passionate freelance writer and author. She writes for Moms.com on a regular basis and has had articles in publications such as the NY Daily News, NY Post, and In Good Health Newspaper. Aline received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies from Keuka College and worked in the Human Services field before her two little girls entered her life. Aline now focuses primarily on writing, teaching aerial arts classes in the evenings, and caring for her twin daughters – all while continuously chugging coffee, of course.
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