Below is Irina’s story about exclusively pumping for twins. You can read more exclusive pumping stories here. Thanks so much Irina!
I didn’t choose the pumping life; the pumping life chose me. Let me back up. My pregnancy was not a blissful, enjoyable experience. It was considered high-risk because not only was I expecting twins, but my twins were sharing a placenta. I spent the entire time I was pregnant worrying about the health and well-being of my unborn children. I was so preoccupied, in fact, that when they were born (at 34 weeks and 6 days), I wasn’t at all prepared for how I was going to feed them. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed, but I knew next to nothing about how to nurse or pump.
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The day after my c-section, a lactation consultant wheeled in a hospital-grade pump and showed me how to pump, explaining what I would need to do. I started pumping and was lucky enough to get colostrum on the first try. I was told that I needed to pump every two to three hours around the clock, but I didn’t take this seriously because I just assumed that pumping was temporary. I was convinced that my boys would nurse. Unfortunately, they didn’t. I was only able to get one of them to latch, and he did not latch very well; my other son never latched at all. Yet, I wanted my children to receive the benefits of breast milk, so just like that, I became an exclusive pumper.
I tried out multiple breast pumps and a variety of flanges. I tried taking supplements, and I experimented with different pumping schedules. I benefited a great deal from the support and advice from the wonderful ladies in the exclusively pumping groups on Facebook. Through much trial and error, I was eventually able to find what worked best for me. Although I had initially not produced enough milk for the boys, I was able to maximize my supply. Ultimately, I managed to produce more than the boys drank in a day, so I froze the extra milk. I had a sizeable freezer stash, and I was proud that my hard work and dedication were paying off.
Exclusively pumping is definitely a challenge, and it’s even more so for a mother of multiples. There were so many times when I would need to pump, but the boys would start to cry or fuss. I learned to be highly adaptable. This was especially true when I had to pump on the go. Throughout my pumping journey, I pumped in a variety of places. I pumped in the car, in parking lots, at the beach, at a friend’s wedding. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I pumped for a total of 22 months, with the last two to three months spent on weaning. I weaned slowly because I was very prone to clogged ducts. I was fortunate to have been able to pump for as long as I did, and I couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support of my family.
If I were to give other exclusive pumpers advice, I would say this: Stick with it, but don’t beat yourself up. Some days are just going to be harder than others. Some days, you’ll be tempted to throw in the towel. Be gentle with yourself. There’s nothing wrong with supplementing with formula if you have to, and ANY amount of breast milk is beneficial. Finally, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back. Exclusively pumping is not for the faint of heart, so if you’re doing it, you’re phenomenal!