Monday, 22 March 2010

A fond farewell to breastfeeding?

The babies at around three weeks old

I think we're on week four of solids (I should really know this, shouldn't I? Best check..) and after a promising start I'm finding it quite tough-going now. Trying to give each baby a bit of milk, then some food, then the rest of their milk, especially when one is breastfed (Miss E) and one is bottle-fed (Mr A), is a challenge on my own, even on the best of days.

It was becoming impossible so I made the decision to take the boob out of the equation and give both babies a bottle at their main feed (11am). This has made things marginally easier, but I'm noticing that Miss E may actually prefer a bottle at all of her feeds. At dinner-time, when I try to breastfeed her she's extremely fussy, which I normally put down to tiredness. The last couple of days I have tried offering her a bottle instead and she's guzzled it down so she's obviously hungry but for whatever reason (low milk supply, feeling tired etc) she's not happy to breastfeed.

So have I reached the point where I call time on the boob? God knows it would make my life easier to have them both on the bottle (tandem feeding will become an option once again), and I guess it would offer me a bit more freedom to leave them for longer periods, but my number one concern is what makes Miss E happiest. If that's the boob, then fine, but if it's a bottle then that's cool too.

Breastfeeding has definitely had its ups and its downs for me and I've written about the difficult feeding decisions I've had to make. I tandem breastfed for the first six weeks, but then we had a long period of both babies (and me) getting very distressed while feeding (for reasons that are still unclear) and Mr A was a much happier baby when we switched him onto bottles.We turned a corner with Miss E at around 14 weeks, and so I have managed to enjoy a few lovely months of breastfeeding, though I have always retained some anxiety about it.

I don't know why I was so determined to breastfeed. It had always been part and parcel of my image of motherhood, although few people expected me to do it once I knew I was having twins. I think in a way I was going out of my way to prove people wrong. That I could breastfeed twins. I felt an odd sense of pride (and maybe smugness too if I'm totally honest) telling people I was breastfeeding them. I wanted to be seen as Superwoman. But before long I lost the sense of conceit and just wanted my little ones to be content.

And as for the breast v bottle debate, I reckon I'm well-equipped to comment, having babies that have done both. I feel no greater bond with Miss E than with Mr A. We probably end up spending more time together, because when Young Daddy is around he feeds Mr A, but my feelings for each baby are no different. I suspect that Young Daddy may naturally feel a bit closer to Mr A because he's been able to share the feeding duties but this will change as he can take more of a role in feeding Miss E. The babies have had the same number of colds, their sleeping patterns are pretty similar, and both have taken to solid food well. So it seems to me that the differences between breastfed and bottle-fed babies are minimal.

So how do I know when it time to sound 'last orders' at the boob? Is there a right time to do it? Do I just bite the bullet and go for it, or do I phase it out one feed at a time? I'm ready to let it go. I don't doubt I'll feel slightly sad when I stop, but I'm also excited about the next stage of our journey together...
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