FertileGirl’s founder opens up about the challenges of breastfeeding her babies.
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Figuring out how you want to feed your baby is never easy. But when you've got twins, the decision can be twice as complicated. The sheer logistics of filling the bellies of two newborns simultaneously is enough to make your head spin; then add in that each has individual needs and preferences...and so does mama!
It doesn't help that everyone seems to have an opinion on whether you should breastfeed, formula-feed, or combo-feed — especially if you're a twin mom. No matter what you decide, though, we think your decision is right. Which is why we've partnered with Enfamil to share the very diverse feeding journeys of some very diverse parents, from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, and the very blurred lines in between.
Allison Kasirer was as prepared as a mama could be for her twin babes. After being diagnosed with “unexplained infertility," Allison endured rounds of IUI, IVF and a miscarriage, before becoming pregnant with twin boys Jacob and Freddy. As the founder of Robyn, a digital community with maternal wellness tools, resources, and specialists, she'd met enough twin moms to know that breastfeeding tandem would be challenging. But there were some postpartum challenges she just couldn't prepare for. Below, Allison shares her feeding journey, and why “mothering yourself" is the first step in mothering your babies.
What did you envision your feeding experience to be like when you were pregnant?
I had a very positive, flexible, and secure mindset towards feeding during my pregnancy. I knew that I was having twins, and I wanted to be realistic about my expectations. I told myself that I would try to breastfeed initially but knew that many twin moms need to supplement with formula in some way.
Tell us about those first few weeks and your commitment to breastfeeding.
My mindset turned more negative and insecure after the babies were born. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make breastfeeding work. One baby latched quickly; however, my other baby had a very difficult time. It usually resulted in us both in tears.
How did having twins make an impact on your feeding journey?
It's challenging to learn the tandem breastfeed in those first few weeks, which means you could be spending close to two hours feeding both babies. I also wish I knew that moms who conceive with the help of ART (assisted reproductive technology) like IVF can have a harder time breastfeeding which can lead to an increase in the baby blues. That knowledge would have helped me cope with the stress and anxiety I had in those first few weeks. It didn't help that I was in a stressful situation professionally. I knew I had to charge ahead with the business or we would lose a lot of time and money. That made my breastfeeding commitment even more difficult.
Ultimately when and why did you make the decision to transition to a bottle?
With the incredible support of my family, I made the decision to completely switch over to formula after eight weeks of combo-feeding. While I thought that guilt would quickly follow, I immediately felt a lightness that can only be described as “feeling like myself" again.
I think it's so important that women feel empowered whether they choose to breastfeed, bottle-feed, or combo-feed. I've been very open and honest about my personal experience over on our @wearerobyn feed.
What's it like feeding twins? How do you physically get it done with two babies?
With twins, it's crucial to keep them on the same schedule. I feed them simultaneously, a bottle in each hand, using the help of some handy baby pillows. They've both learned “patience" (at an infant-level!) while I take turns burping each of them. My husband and I take turns doing the double feed so each parent gets a well-deserved break.
What's the best aspects of using a bottle?
While there are definitely pros and cons to using a bottle, I try not to ever use the word “best." I think it's important that families choose the right method for them and feel empowered in that decision. Specifically with twins, it was helpful that my husband and other family members could help with feeding using a bottle.
What kind of encouragement or advice would you give to a new mom struggling to figure out how to feed her baby(ies)?
I really believe in mothering yourself. Self-care feels more natural and less indulgent during pregnancy but its equally important during postpartum. Whether you decide to breastfeed or bottle-feed, you need to make sure you feel supported, safe, secure, and nourished physically and emotionally. When you take care of yourself, your “mother's instinct" becomes very easy to hear and feel—and then you'll know what's right for you and your family.
Photography by Belle Savransky of Belle Augusta for Well Rounded.