National Breast Feeding week- My Breast Feeding journey

Today is the final day of breast feeding week so I thought I’d share a little bit about my breast feeding journey. 

With Dahli and India being born at 27 weeks and in NICU and SCU, for a very long time I was not able to try and breastfeed them. They were not strong enough and not ready, plus their CPAP would have gotten in the way anyway! 

It was an hour after the girls birth that my midwife came and offered to help me hand express some milk. I was surprised that I was doing this so quickly. And even more surprised that she managed to help me get enough milk out for my girls first feed! (They were fed through a nasal gastric tube). I think it was about 1ml in total. From this lesson on, every three hours, day and night I would express. At first just with my hands, then with the expressing machine as a stimulator before hand expressing, and then solely on the expressing machine. I would set my alarm for every three hours and expressed day and night. At times I did it next to one of the girls in their humidicrib, sometimes downstairs in my hospital room and then at home when I was finally discharged. When I was allowed to hold the girls I would hold one of them for ‘breast cuddles’ to encourage my milk supply and then I would sit there next to them and express afterwards. At home I would flick through the millions of photos and videos of my baby girls to help me make lots of milk. And I made a hell of a lot. It’s amazing what our bodies can do! I was expressing so much milk, litres a day. The hospital had to freeze some and I got to freeze some at home when they couldn’t fit anymore in their freezer. 

expressing at indias bedside
Expressing next to India’s humidicrib

The girls first breast feeding practice was sucking my milk off a cotton tip. Soooo cute and fascinating. And then at around 31 weeks (1 month old), India was off the CPAP and had her first proper breast feeding practice. She was 1377g this day and it was quite remarkable that she managed a little feed at this stage. I still remember how excited and proud I was. She got quite the surprise with how much milk came out, I remember she threw up on me and herself a few times! 🤣 For a long time we would continue this breast feeding practice as the nurse tube fed her my EBM. 

Dahli didn’t get to start practicing breastfeeding until a little while longer (almost 35 weeks) because she she still needed the breathing support. But finally while on high flow, she got her first practice. Dahli latched straight away and then screwed her face up. She was either shocked or unsure of the taste and then she fell asleep on me as I stared at her beautiful face that after almost three months, I could finally see properly.  Now both girls were off CPAP and able to practise sucking I was able to start tandem feeding. This was super exciting and a huge moment for me. When I learnt I was having twins this was one of the first things I thought about. The twin feeding pillow was no longer just for cuddles, but for actually feeding my babies!

The tandem feeding journey was filled with joy and anxiety, proud and happy tears and sad, disappointed tears. It had far more unsuccessful experiences than successful and it was heartbreaking. Once the girls were in SCU the focus became on getting them to full feeds so that they could finally graduate and go home. I was determined to breast feed. I would breastfeed them and then top them up with my EBM. It was an intense juggling act made easier when my husband was there. It also brought up lots of feelings of incompetency as nurses had to help feed because tandem was not working and they were on the same schedule. I longed to get them home and focus on breastfeeding in the comfort of our own home. But in hospital I was only allowed to practice with them every alternate feed. And then when we could see that the bottle was the fastest route home, that’s what mattered most. 

When we finally got home the juggling act continued but with much less anxiety and stress. On and on for months. I eventually decided to just do breast feeds for bonding and supply purposes because they just couldn’t get a full feed. So I learnt a way to express while bottle feeding them simultaneously. And if one bubba wanted a little settling or mummy time, I’d offer them my breast. One of my fondest memories of this time was having them both on me in the bathtub and them both fighting over the same nipple 🤣 

feeding station
My breast feeding station-twin credible, lap, warmed bottles of EBM, water bottle, TV remote, expressing machine, and of course India and Dahli

 

Eventually the girls weren’t really interested in my breast. They wanted the bottle of EBM and eventually formula top ups when my supply started to run low and not be enough for the girls. A combination of their growing appetite and less time to express. 

I expressed until the girls were 9 months old. My machine wasn’t really cutting it any more, my girls were now on solids and my spare time was spent making them solid food! If I tried expressing as I bottle fed them, they would pull out the tubing! And if I tried expressing as they played, their attention span would dwindle…along with my supply. So I weaned my boobies and put the expressing machine in storage….and I burnt my god damn expressing bras! 🤣 From then on the girls were on homemade, delicious solids and organic formula. I was happy that I had gotten them to this stage, although mummy guilt was also very much present.

 

So that’s my breastfeeding journey! I hoped Reuben to be a more successful breastfeeding story. My supply did actually come in and I was back to expressing again. This colostrum/milk was a gift to the girls from Reuben (which came at a good time as they were very sick). This was an extremely hard and emotional thing to do. I tried to just zone out and not think about what I was doing and why I had to do it. In the end I ended up needing help to make my supply go away and after a few weeks, I got tablets to help stop it. 

Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different and I believe that all mummy’s make the decision that is best for them and their babies. I have moved on from the sadness and guilt I felt from my unexpected breastfeeding experience. I now know that I was a NICU mummy rockstar and I did absolutely everything I could do to get my bubba’s their mummy’s milk (including the multiple batches of lactation cookies, nighttime googling of lactation foods (hello oats!), many cups of lactation tea and finally motilium to help boost supply!).

Thanks for reading!

Love Terri

Teaty Biccies

I am currently feeling a bit like a Jersey Cow, hence the name ‘Teaty Biccies’!

My lactation nurse at hospital was fantastic.  She gave me a recipe for lactation biscuits that she suggested I ask a friend to make for me. Reading different things about them left me keen to try them, even if they didn’t work, cookies sounded good to me! So I did have a lovely friend bake them and, boy oh boy did they work!

The first time I had them, I was expressing so much milk that I filled my freezer, the freezer at NICU and still had enough to feed the girls. I will admit that was also having lots of skin to skin with the girls (which studies show helps milk supply). In NICU, you had to hold your baby for at least an hour at a time because of the effort it took for bubs, giving them a good rest once they were out and on you. So I was doing this twice (one baby at a time), in the morning and the afternoon – at least 4 hours a day total. With this skin to skin and the biscuits, I was making so much milk that I ended up getting mastitis (definitely another blog post) because I wasn’t expressing it all out (lesson learnt!).

When the girls came home, I wasn’t having as much skin to skin and life was even busier, so my milk supply dropped. I made a few more batches of the cookies, and each time I saw a definite increase in my milk supply. Of course in the whirlwind of early motherhood,  I have misplaced the original recipe, but I found another on the internet that I like: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/breastfeeding/lactation-cookies/
After baking these a few times with some healthified changes, I think I have mastered the perfect recipe!

The last time I made them, I accidently left out the flour. I was wondering why the batch was so small! But you know the saying about mistakes being important because we learn from them? WelI I actually discovered that the biscuits are so much nicer without the flour! They are kind of like a chewy ANZAC if you do it this way. I find with the flour (I usually use a combo of coconut flour and almond flour or gluten free flour) they are a bit dry. I also have made them with a beetroot late spice (instead of the cinnamon) and these were the tastiest yet! The latest batch I tweeked a bit again, adding just a bit of flour (to help them bind better) and I am pretty pleased with the result! Not only do I find it hard to stop at one, but I have to hide them from my hubby!

Here is my adaption of the recipe:

Teaty Biccies

Makes 12 biscuits, cookies, whatever you want to call them!

Ingredients:

¼ cup wholemeal flour

½ cup organic virgin coconut oil (you may need to soften this in the microwave)

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup coconut sugar

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1 egg

2-3 tablespoons of water (depends on how moist you prefer the cookies to be)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional, for flavour)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (or beetroot late spice)

1-2 tablespoons of brewers yeast

½  teaspoon salt 

2 cups oats

1 cup of your favourite biscuit ingredients (coconut, dark choc, raisins, slithered almonds, dried apricots, you get the picture)  

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 and line a tray with baking paper.

In a mixing bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla (if using). Mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, let them sit for a few minutes before adding to mix.

Add the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.

Add the flaxseed mix and dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine well.

Finally, stir in your additional ingredients (if using them).

Make the biscuits (using a tablespoon or dessert spoon) and place them onto the lined baking tray. This mix is a little sticky, but it works! 

Flatten them just a little with the spoon or  a fork.

Bake the lactation cookies for around 12-17 minutes, depending on how well cooked or crunchy you like your biscuits. 

Easy peasy!

I should mention that brewers yeast (the ingredient that really helps to get your milk pumping!) has a bit of an unusual taste; yeasty like beer, as you probably guessed! So perhaps use a little less of this ingredient in your first batch and see how you go! Let me know if you make them and what you thought. Also, always happy to hear to any delicious changes that you may have made.  

Happy milking mummas!

IMG_3903
Just can’t stop at one!!

 

Love Terri