Adventures and Misadventures in Tandem Feeding and Weaning With Momma Lacey
Latching pain. Cracked nipples. Engorged breasts. Mastitis. Thrush. Breastfeeding is no walk in the park.
Now multiply those problems by two — we’re talking twin babies here — and what you’ve got are a pair of precious, adorable, yet demanding munchkins that will severely test any mother.
Like Lacey Wehner. Labor and delivery nurse. Photography and laundry enthusiast. And yes, mother of four, including twins Charlotte and Oliver.
We sat down with her to learn about the challenges of breastfeeding twins before eventually weaning them.
MILKSTA: Let’s talk tandem feeding. What maternal logistics are involved? Do you feed your twins at the same time or separately? What are some positions you use if you breastfeed them together?
LACEY WEHNER (LW): I was able to have a few precious weeks of nursing my twins. When I would, I’d tandem feed using the nursing pillow. My lactation consultant had twin grandsons and was able to give me great tips on tandem feeding. She rolled up receiving blankets tight and taped them in log shapes. So I’d latch one baby, and put that rolled up blanket behind that baby to hold them close to me, then latch the other and add their back roll.
When I started feeding them expressed milk I still fed them at the same time. I would put them back-to-back on a lounger pillow. Or put them both in the specialty twin pillow and sit them on the bed in front of me and hold both bottles at once, sometimes pumping at the same time. When dealing with 2 newborns, every minute counts.
M: How did your twins react to seeing the other one feeding? Were they ever emotional, curious, or jealous?
LW: My twins weren’t nursing when they were old enough to interact with each other. But around one-month-old, we would always feed them together. If my husband was there to help, I’d use the twin boppy pillow, or put them back-to-back in the lounger to be able to feed them together. If I only fed one, the other one would usually be screaming for their bottle. Plus, feeding them at the same time gave me more down time in-between feeds.
M: Do you produce enough milk to feed both? Did you ever have to take any external help to increase your milk supply?
LW: I was able to pump enough for them for the first six months. After that I had to rely on donor milk, and formula supplementation. Being a “just enougher,” I think I tried everything — every pill, potion, cookie, cracker, and drink that was said to increase supply. Did you know Oreos are said to increase your supply? Ha-ha, I didn’t have to be told that twice to jump on that theory!
My staple quickly became Milksta Brew! I’m obsessed with coffee. And how amazing is it to drink coffee and increase your supply!? I love coffee flavor so I actually added it to my already brewed decaf coffee. This last week when I decided it was time to wean, and I had my coffee without Milksta, it was definitely lacking. It is definitely a hug in a mug!
M: Any newborn is likely to keep odd hours but balancing the demands of two newborns must take the challenges to a whole new level? When you put one baby to sleep, the other may be wide awake. What do your twins’ sleeping and feeding schedules look like, and how do you manage to do anything else?
LW: Oh man, I’ll say I was very blessed. My twins were great newborns, I’m not sure if it’s because the newborn stage is my favorite, and having two older kids I know how fast it’s over. Or if it was the fact that these two were the last newborns I’ll ever have, but for some reason I didn’t mind getting up.
And I’m not sure if it’s because they were getting expressed milk in a bottle but they slept so great. We swaddled and used a white noise machine, I think that helped. I also woke my husband up when I needed him. He got spoiled with the first two! I never woke him up, I was nursing and figured there was really no point in waking him. But with two hungry mouths to feed and a 45-minute pumping session to follow, I needed help.
I did learn that it’s so much easier to do everything at the same time. When one is eating, the other one should eat right after. When one is sleeping, the other one should sleep, or you get no down time.
I’d have to bounce and rock the one baby then hold them through their nap for a few days until they got used to sleeping at that time. That also meant waking up the sleeping baby to feed when the other one was hungry. Whoever said never wake a sleeping baby never had multiples.
M: We’ve heard from other mamas that sometimes it may also feel like there isn’t enough of you to go around when you have multiple kids. How do you manage to divide your time and attention between four children?
LW: Oh my gosh, this is actually one of the biggest issues. And I found it really hard to have such big gaps in between my kids, because a 10-year-old doesn’t want to do what a 6-year-old wants to do, and infants can’t do what their elder siblings want to do. It was very hard, and still is a little difficult.
As the twins get older, it’s a little easier to plan things. We really could do better with making time for each child. My husband is really good about going out with just one of our kids for one-on-one dates. I do most of my quality one-on-one time when the twins are napping. There were some really rough times though. And when those happened, we all just cried.
M: As a mother of 4 kids, you’re no stranger to weaning. At what ages did you wean them off breast milk and what was the experience like? Was it a smooth transition from milk to solids?
LW: With all of my breastfeeding journeys being so different, it’s no surprise that all of their weaning was so different. With my first, I weaned her at 15 months. Hers was probably the hardest. It was my first baby, I didn’t really know many people that breastfed past the first year. I was a full-time student, and working, so my daughter was in daycare.
Both my husband and the daycare provider pressured me to stop. Not knowing better, I decided they were probably right and I started weaning. My daughter as well as myself were both not ready to wean and there were lots of tears around this.
So with my second, I knew for a fact that I wasn’t going to let anyone pressure me into weaning until I was ready. That time came when he was two-and-a-half years old. I think my supply dropped and he was nursing a lot more, and it just really became uncomfortable. So I decided it was time. This was probably the easiest for me, since I waited until I was ready to wean.
With the twins, I decided that I needed to focus some energy into my own health and started to really watch what I was eating; only eating healthy, whole foods, minimal carbs and sugars. My already decreased supply tanked even more almost immediately. The twins were 19-months old and I had to make the painful decision to either go back to my awful eating and keep pumping. Or call it quits and continue my journey to health. This was hard. I felt like I was so close to my goal of two years, yet so far away, and I really liked my new found energy.
In the end I chose to continue eating healthier, and one night I got home from work and after pumping for 30 mins only got 10 mls combined. That was the night I decided to hang up my pump. There were so many emotions, these were the last babies I’d ever get to nourish and to be officially done was such a sting.
Now I enjoy all my time I would still be pumping with extra cuddles. Since I practiced extended breastfeeding with all my kids, they were all eating solid foods, when I weaned.
M: Having healthy and beautiful kids is a blessing. However, raising a bunch of them can be very challenging. What tips and advice can you give other mamas who may be expecting twins or have multiple kids?
LW: My biggest advice is to be aware of how fast it all goes by! I know with multiples things can get so task-oriented. At times I felt like a robot; change, change, bathe, bathe, dress, dress, feed, feed. I wish I could go back and soak up more of those newborn snuggles.
Because it does go by so fast. The days are long but the years are short. Try spending more time with your kids. Because the laundry and dishes will always be there.
Our Take on Twin
So, twins, huh. They’re twice the work, twice the stress. But they’re also double the love and happiness. We couldn’t put it any better than Lacey: spend as much time as you can with your kids to enjoy every moment as your bundles of joy grow up. And to all the twin mommas out there, we salute you!
Lacey, the supermomma
When Lacey Wehner isn’t on-duty as a labor and delivery nurse, which by the way is her dream job, chances are she’ll be preoccupied by her other loves, namely photography, shopping, making memories with my kiddos, trailer camping, and surprise, surprise, even doing the laundry. She’s married to her “high school sweetheart” (that’s an inside joke to those who know her), and is now a proud mama to four beautiful babies.