My baby feeding dilemma
There are always concerns in a pregnancy, particularly surrounding how the labour and birth will go. It’s only natural, as it’s impossible to know how everything will play out, even if you’ve been through it before. I think if I was pregnant with a singleton, I’d have less worries surrounding the birthing. Probably my main concern would be getting to the hospital quickly enough, since my labour with Andrew was considered short (about 8 hours total). With twins, I have some anxiety over getting to the hospital in time, since we live a lot farther away from the hospital we’re birthing at this time around. But my main concern at this point has to do with my milk coming in when it needs to.
With Andrew it was ‘easy’ because he was late, and therefore my body was more than ready to start producing milk for him. I had a very natural birth, so everything felt like it fell into place as it was meant to. Andrew was considered a ‘big baby’ at 8lbs 9oz. Very healthy, very strong. There was no need to supplement with formula, because he began suckling right away, and I had enough colostrum to tide him over till full on milk production began. Even 2 months after Andrew STOPPED nursing at 18 ½ months, I could have started breastfeeding again. As far as I know, my milk production was about as good as it gets.
Now the issue is that with subsequent births, you never know how your body is going to react. I could have had the most successful breast feeding experience the first time around, but the next time it could be completely different. With twins, it’s further complicated by the fact that I’m going to need double the amount of milk for double the amount of baby! It’s complicated by the fact that on average, twins are 5.5lbs each at birth. From the women I’ve talked to who have had twins, one baby is generally smaller than the other at birth. Sometimes by quite a bit, where one twin needs a lot of extra nourishment in the beginning to try to get their weight up. It’s not always this way – it is possible, if birthing doesn’t happen till more like the 38 week mark, that both babies can be a stronger, healthier weight from the get go, and exclusively breast feeding IS possible.
But often it seems to be the case that supplementing in the beginning is a necessity, because one or both babies isn’t getting enough from breast milk. Sometimes they are so small they have suckling issues, and it’s hard to get them latching properly in the beginning. Sometimes Momma’s milk doesn’t come in as early as needed, for various reasons, such as due to having had premature babies, a c-section, being induced – I even question whether having an epidural can cause breast feeding complications (and my doctor seems to want to 'automatically' do an epidural, regardless of how the labour is going...I still need to discuss this with her more). Since 50% of twin births happen via c-section, I worry about my odds of having a more natural labour, and my milk production being similar to what it was when Andrew was born.
I don’t have a problem with formula fed babies. I wouldn’t mind supplementing with the stuff if I didn’t feel like it was so complicated in our situation. The thing is, from the research I’ve started doing, it’s not easy to find vegetarian formula. Most formula seems to have fish-based omega 3’s added. As well, I’ve even discovered that some formula has pork in it, as some enzyme from pigs is used. I have to be perfectly honest, the idea of it freaks me right out. I love the fact that Andrew has been vegetarian since he was conceived. Yes, he might choose to make other food decisions in his life than what I would want for him, but at this point in time it’s up to me to provide his diet, and I love that I’ve been able to raise a perfectly healthy child on a completely vegetarian diet.
There’s no reason why it should have to be any different with the twins. And I know there ARE vegetarian formulas out there, I just have to do more research to find them. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about soy-based formulas, as I’ve read that soy isn’t the best thing to give small babies in large quantities. I need to do more research on that. But ultimately it’s not that my babies need to be vegan! In fact, they won’t be, because I eat dairy, and it’s therefore in my milk. And I’m really hopeful that my milk WILL come in, and I WILL be able to exclusively breast feed. But I need to figure out what I’m going to do if for some reason I have to supplement, and it’s scaring me a bit.
You can also go the route of ‘donor milk’, where you purchase breast milk from mom’s who have donated some of their supply to a milk bank. You can get it through BC Women’s, which is where we’ll be delivering. But I’ve decided I’m not a fan of the idea of using some other woman’s milk to feed my babies. I would honestly rather go the route of formula than to give my babies some other woman’s milk. It’s hard to put into words exactly why I feel that way, although I suppose there are multiple reasons. For one thing, there’s no way of knowing if the woman who donated the milk I get was vegetarian, so I’m still going to have the issue of feeding my babies milk that contains animal, which I’m really not for. I also feel that while they DO test the milk for safety purposes, I worry that they could possibly not detect something that could be wrong with it, and it just seems kind of gross to me. Maybe it’s also a territorial thing, but I don’t take well to the idea that some other woman is nourishing MY babies, and not me. If I can’t do it on my own, I’ll have to find a formula that can help complete the job. I just need to find out what would be healthiest for my babies, and I stand by the fact that we can do it vegetarian. Of course if it came right down to it, if it’s a life or death situation that I use an animal-based formula, I would do it. But I’m 100% certain that it’s NOT actually necessary. I know that in general, the reason animal products are used when other things COULD be with the same effect, it’s because it’s cheaper for production to do it that way. It’s not because it’s the only way to healthily feed one’s child, which I know from experience. I guess I just have some more research ahead of me to get this stuff figured out.
I wish it didn’t have to be so complicated! I wish I could just know that my babies will be born healthy and my milk will come in and all will be well in our world. But not knowing means I have to be prepared for whatever might happen. At least I’ve got some time to get this stuff sorted out before it really matters!