Real Women: Breastfeeding Triplets
This is a story about my success in breastfeeding my triplets. We are so proud of our achievement and feel that our journey could inspire or encourage others to breastfeed.
I breastfed my first so I knew I wanted to breastfeed again! People were skeptical about me breastfeeding triplets, and this drove my determination. My triplets were born at 29 weeks and 3 days. Due to their prematurity, it was so important for them to have breastmilk.
After having an emergency c-section I knew there was no time to rest, so started hand expressing within the first hour. I set an alarm to ensure that I expressed every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours overnight. I did this for the next 8 weeks. The triplets were fed my breastmilk via nasogastric (NG) tube during their time in the neonatal unit.
Being separated from the boys whilst they were in hospital was hard, so having pictures/videos helped whilst I expressed. Seeing my teeny vulnerable babies in their little incubators drove my determination to provide them with my milk. I also rotated muslin squares between us so that I could smell them and vice versa. This also helped me whilst I expressed during the night away from my boys. Their smell on the swaddles kept me focused.
Twice during our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)journey my babies were split between hospitals over an hour apart. This was the hardest time and meant I was separated from 2 of my boys for a couple of days. During this time I kept up with expressing and ensured that all three of my boys had enough milk to take with them until we were all reunited.
Once the boys were able to, I moved on to directly breastfeeding them. There were some real testing times,but we battled through. The direct help from staff was invaluable during these times. At this point we were onto our third hospital, each one offering different levels of support. The hospitals were keen to push bottles but I refused until the boys had fully mastered breastfeeding.I was desperate to have the boys home and knew by bottle feeding this would have been achieved sooner,but could also have hindered our breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding them was so important to me so I stuck to what I felt was best for them.
The triplets have never once needed to be supplemented with any formula or donor milk. They are now 27 months and are still breastfeeding and we could not be prouder.
It has required a massive commitment both physically and emotionally. There were some really difficult days such as battling mastitis twice, getting through cluster feeding days & finding time to express milk to feed one baby whilst I tandem fed the other 2. Despite these, we battled through!
I know breastfeeding is extremely difficult for so many people. I just wish everyone could have access to equal and quality support, so that those who want to breastfeed, achieve. The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the whole world, 34% at 6 months and only 0.5% by 12 months, so the fact that we managed and continue to feed the triplets makes us so happy.
You can find and follow our journey on Instagram: triplets_and_toddler: https://www.instagram.com/triplets_and_toddler/