This is a post that I have wanted to write for a long time. This morning I saw a “Mom to Mom”, (or Mum to Mum in my Aussie vernacular), blog hop about Feeding and Scheduling for Multiples. It’s the perfect motivation I need to finally write about the topic.
When I was pregnant with the triplets, I had some ideas of how I might breastfeed the babies. I was prepared to change should it be necessary, but I had to feel prepared within myself by having some sort of mental plan, even if it was to be broken. I’m flexible like that, and I changed my plans very quickly while the babies were in hospital after talking to the midwives and finding out what worked best for me. What I didn’t take into account, was that The Accountant was still wanting to carry out the original plan, and his mentality wasn’t as prone to change plans. That was one hurdle we had to jump in the early days. I had The Accountant prepared that he was going to have to bottle feed all throughout the night and mentally, he was ready to do it. As it turned out, I was fine breastfeeding all three babies in one session, but if all were awake at the same time, I needed his arms to hold a waiting baby. The Accountant could see how tired I was and could feel how tired he was, and just wanted to give them a bottle. I wasn’t prepared to give them formula at the start, especially when I had enough milk. I knew that once I started feeding them formula, my production would decrease, so I didn’t want that to happen. It also seemed pointless expressing a feed before (like my original plan) because in reality it didn’t save any time. I could understand how it was frustrating for The Accountant getting up in the middle of the night and just holding a baby. He felt like he was doing nothing. Of course he wasn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. It just took awhile for us snapping and fighting with one another before we worked out that it was our different mentality to following a plan. Generally, when Accountant’s follow a plan, there is seldom reason to deviate from the original plan. Once we had recognised this and had a discussion of what we needed from one another, it got a lot easier. Once again it was proof that communication is vital within a marriage.
|The early days. A tired Accountant, on the home front job, holding babies.|
I had thought, (and if you’ve been around this blog for awhile, you may remember me saying), that I planned to twin feed two babies then express a bottle for the third baby. I thought I would rotate the babies so that one baby would be getting an expressed bottle from the previous feed at the same time that the other two were breastfeeding every third time.
What I didn’t take into account, was that this would not be timesaving in any way, in fact it would be longer if I needed to express and feed the bottle by myself. And with multiples, as Finn McMissile says, “Time is of the essence.” I had been basing this on the fact that my first two boys took at least an hour to feed each session as newborns. In reality the triplets would take 30-20 minutes each. I find I don’t let the multiple babies muck around as much. It’s straight down to business when there is mass feedings! A midwife had advised me that the best way to go would be to feed two babies one side each and feed the third and last baby both sides. I was doing this in hospital and continued when I got home.
I had also expected that I would introduce a very tight schedule feeding at particular times in order to cope with feeding three babies. I was rather dreading this. I had trialled this when J Boy was a newborn and hated it. It just wasn’t my style. I found that I tended to resume a similar pattern of feeding to what I had done with the first children. I would give them a full feed, and then try not to feed them again before they had made the three hour mark. Of course sometimes, they were desperately hungry and this didn’t work. If they were sleeping, I never woke them, but would feed them when they awoke, so if they chose how much longer they would go over three hours.
Before they were allowed to come home from hospital, the triplets had to have a four hour feeding schedule. They went from three to four hours quite easily in the special care nursery. I was pleased, and very keen to continue feeding four hourly when I got home. I had fed four hourly with the big boys, and had watched friends feeding three hourly and thought it was incredibly draining (and that was with one baby!) It just doesn’t take very much time for three hours to roll by, at least with four hours, you have a little bit of a chance to get something done in between feeds.
Within a couple of days, one by one, each triplet started sliding back into the three hourly routine. I tried to convince them otherwise, but they strongly disagreed. It was easy to give into their demands when you looked at how tiny they were. I figured extra milk, especially when it’s split three ways, would probably be helpful to the little darlings anyway.
In order to breastfeed triplets, you do need to mentally prepare yourself to exist on very little sleep. You need to mentally be committed to it, and continually think of how this is benefiting the babies, and to a large extent push your own feelings to one side. After all, it’s only for a time. The season will pass, and you must remind yourself that eventually them and you will be able to sleep throughout the night once again. (8 months later, and I’m still hanging onto this concept!!!) Even with the quicker feeds, breastfeeding was often taking 1 1/2-2 hours per session. That left me with 1 1/2-1 hours sleep. In the evenings the babies were very unsettled, reflux made sure of that. We were often not getting to bed until anywhere from 10pm-12am. Most evenings I was averaging a total of 4 hours interrupted sleep in the early days. (Sometimes more, sometimes less.) This still happens occasionally, but it’s more likely for another reason, such as currently the babies are sick, so they are waking more at night. Sometimes I would catch a nap in between feeds during the day if I were really exhausted. Most of the time I didn’t feel comfortable doing it with people in the house, even though they were there to make the burden easier. It’s a really weird feeling leaving someone in your house and just going to bed.
I’ve got plenty more to say on this topic, but I think this might do for now. If you are a mother, can you remember (or are you currently in) the newborn mother’s haze of sleep deprivation? What did you do to cope? Are you a rigid sched
ule feeder, or do you prefer to have a bit more flexibility?