Unable to Breastfeed

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Bottle-feeding twin infants

Dec 2003

For a variety of reasons I have to exclusively bottle feed (formula) my month-old twins. I hadn't expected to do this and so hadn't done much research about it in advance of their birth. I'd appreciate hearing any tips, suggestions, etc. from other parents of twins who have been or who are in this position. Thanks, Rachel

Hi Rachel, Congratulations! I'm far from Berkeley (Jerusalem), but my sister passed this on. I have twin boys who were born 10 weeks early. They came home from the hospital at 6 weeks. I pumped and nursed and also used formula - and from around 3 months they only got formula. Oy, I remember that time as being the most intense, yet monotonous of my life - you're busy around the clock, but every hour you're doing exactly what you did the hour before and the day before. In terms of bottle feeding: we found it easiest to prepare a whole day's worth of bottles and just add the formula at the last minute. We sterilized all the bottles at once, and filled them with already boiled water. Then at 3am we just add formula and it's ready to go. No need to warm the ! bottles - they can drink room temperature formula. Our doctor also said we can refrigerate unused formula for 24 hours - and give them to drink right out of the fridge. Try to keep them on the same schedule as much as possible - sleep together, eat together. We had a chart up on the fridge to keep track of who pooped, and how much everybody drank and who got their vitamin. It gets much easier - my boys just turned one year old last month and those sleep-deprived non-stop first months seem just a distant memory now - someone even told me that by the time they're 2 years old, twins is easier than a singleton - but that I have yet to see. Good luck and enjoy! Jessica (posted by Jessica's sister)
[Editor] related page: Breastfeeding Twins

Compensating for the Closeness of Nursing

Hi, I am the mother of a 5 yr. old, and a 2 month old. What I haven't seen was a section on When you can't breastfeed. I tried nursing with both my children, and unfortunately, it didn't work either time. It was really disappointing to me. My first child was fine with a milk based formula, but my second has an allergy, and is taking a soy based. I was just wondering, what parents who aren't nursing do to compensate for the loss of closeness you get when nursing. I try cuddling when feeding, but it just isn't the same. Any advice?
I would think that wearing the baby for several hours (or more) every day would go a long way toward incorporating the physical closeness that breastfeeding provides. Speaking as a breastfeeding mom of a toddler, now that my daughter can talk a bit, she regularly delights in announcing that she's very little and Mommy is very big when we're getting ready to breastfeed. Possibly this is a recent part of her enjoyment, but I've been theorizing that part of what she enjoys about breastfeeding is really losting herself--merging, to use psychological lingo--in the physical connection.

I would think that wearing the baby would have the same features of being able to lose oneself in mommy's bigness. Bathing together might provide opportunity for skin-to-skin contact that breastfeeding provides. And, although I know it's an endless debate, sleeping together might tend to incorporate a lot of closeness between you. Best wishes.

I've been breastfeeding my son (he's now 18 months), and your question really got me thinking about how we are physically intimate. I love nursing, and he does too, but to be honest, much of the time he's actually latched on I'm kind of spaced out. It hurts my neck too much to keep looking at him the whole time, and though I'm stroking him, really, my mind is often elsewhere. The piece that really feels like closeness is the cuddle/roughhouse/tickling/conversation that often comes before and after. We nurse on the bed, and it seems like nursing is just the excuse to get us rolling around on the bed together partially clothed. If I'm not able to nurse with my next one for some reason, that's the piece I'll be sure not to miss! Good luck!
I was unable to breastfeed either of my two sons, now aged 3 and almost almost 5 yrs. old, and have always had a very affectionate physical relationship with them. What is important is the cudding and attention, and there are many ways of achieving that. While bottle-feeding, I often talked to the children and sang, making eye contact & smiling. I wore the children in slings when young, carried them around in my arms, sometimes slept with them, and tried to hug them frequently. I'm sure you'll find others.
I've been mulling over this request durnig the past week and have come up with a few more ideas. One thing about breastfeeding is that I and many moms I know nurse on demand, and I think that leads to a (positive) sense of control for the child. In our case, which I think was typical in this regard, the demands got a lot more subtle as baby got to be a few months old and older--rarely did she have to resort to crying to express her hunger or other-motivated desire for nursing, because I was usually holding/wearing her and would respond quickly to a nuzzle or a pat on my chest as a signal of wanting to nurse. I have a sense that bottle-feeding might have a tendency to lend itself toward scheduled (i.e. parent-led) feeding, perhaps because of not wanting to waste formula, and restrictions on how long you can consider formula still fresh after the bottle has touched baby's lips, etc. So I might advise trying to keep as much to baby's demands, including subtle requests, as you can to make the relationship as close as possible to a breasfeeding one--even if it means that some formula goes down the drain.

The other thought I had is that if you want to, you could still breastfeed using formula and a nursing supplementer (I forget what it's called). This is a bag of formula on a necklace with a slender bit of tubing letting the formula flow out of it. You have baby latch-on to your nipple, and insert the end of the tube into baby's mouth too, so baby is getting nourishment while suckling at your breast. Writing about it may sound a bit strange, but a friend of mine fed her child this way for well over a year and was very satisfied with it. I don't know just where to get this device, but I'm certain that La Leche League leader would know, and probably a lactation consultant would know too. BTW, my friend who did this arranged her own supply of donated breastmilk from literally dozens of generous lactating moms, and her child actually never drank any formula. Anyway, good luck again.