Thursday, May 15, 2014

Weaning Twins From Breastfeeding

If you're friends with women who have breastfed, chances are you've heard at least one horror story about the physical pain of weaning their baby (babies).  Remember the tortoise and the hare?  That's my motto for weaning: Slow and steady wins the race.

I love how I just compared a tortoise to breastfeeding.  I need a nap.

(Speaking of nap... I showed Michael this picture and he said, "We look tired."  They were 3-weeks-old.)

Like everything else, there isn't one right way to wean.  However, I was fortunate enough to not encounter pain while weaning so I thought I'd share what I did.

A little background about my breastfeeding experience in case you're new around these parts:

- I exclusively breastfed Jude & Sloane for 12 months and then continued to breastfeed for three more months while also offering whole milk in sippy cups.

- For eight months, I pumped at 10p for the following night's bottle (given at 7p).  I did this so Michael could be a part of their bedtime routine (we each gave a bottle at the same time) and to ensure they were drinking A LOT before bedtime.  They slept through the night at a young age (three months) and I attribute that to very full bellies.


- Around eight months they were both sick and refused the bottle.  From that point on, I exclusively nursed unless we were going out for the night or away for a weekend.  When that happened, they had no choice but to take a bottle.  :)

I shared the above information so you know exactly where we were when I started weaning (one year).  I was still nursing five times a day, though it was rarely more than 10 minutes per child/per session.

My nursing schedule:
6:30 am
9:30 am
12:30 pm
3:30 pm
7:00 pm

I would switch sides each time - if Jude nursed on the left at 6:30 am then he nursed on the right at 9:30 am.  

Friends and books will share different opinions on weaning.  Most are contradictory.  Some insist you drop the nighttime feeding first, while others say it should be the last to go.  Since I couldn't find solid evidence that any of it actually mattered, I decided to drop feedings in order of my least favorite to my most favorite.  Sounds scientific, right?  If you're pumping/nursing, my advice is to drop the pumping sessions first.  Anything to keep you from lugging that "in style" tote everywhere you go!  (Also, the below information is assuming your babies are not waking up in the middle of the night to nurse.  If that is the case, I would recommend dropping that session first.)

I dropped the 12:30 pm feeding first.  My reason was simple: I love to get out of the house during the the day and nursing always made that a little difficult.  It's one thing to be at a friend's house, but it's another to be running errands and have to stop to nurse two babies.  Don't get me wrong - I did it - but this was (by far) my least favorite nursing session of the day.  And so it got the boot.

Once I dropped that feeding (and replaced it with whole milk), I nursed four times a day (6:30 am, 9:30 am, 3:30 pm, 7 pm) for two weeks.  I've heard waiting one week between dropping feedings is sufficient but I wasn't in any hurry.  As I mentioned before, DO NOT RUSH weaning.  If you do, your breasts will be engorged and uncomfortable.  It's amazing how the body adapts to what your babies need. Two weeks allowed my body to slow down the production without ever feeling engorged.

Next, I dropped the 3:30p feeding.  I nursed three times a day (6:30 am, 9:30 am, 7 pm) for three weeks and the twins continued to have one sippy cup of milk a day (see below for rules on switching to formula).

Dropped the 9:30 am feeding.  Nursed two times a day (6:30 am, 7 pm) for two weeks and the twins had two sippy cups of milk a day.

At this point, I was only nursing when they woke up and when they went to sleep.  There were a few days when I was a little uncomfortable by the evening feeding, but it was never painful. 

Dropped the 6:30 am feeding.  Nursed one time a day (7 pm) for about a month and the twins had three sippy cups of milk a day.

The nighttime feeding was my very favorite and therefore the last to go.  Just thinking about it now makes me teary.  The week before I stopped breastfeeding I missed an evening nursing session because of an event and I noticed the next morning I wasn't engorged.  I realized then that I was almost done.   I remember telling Michael that I didn't have any pictures of me nursing and asked him to take a few.  He did and I will treasure them always.  That night was the last time Jude & Sloane nursed before bed.

A few notes about weaning...
You do not need to replace every nursing session with a bottle/sippy cup of whole milk. That is too much!  Jude & Sloane haven't had more than three sippy cups of milk each day. The rest of the time they drink water.
If your twins are less than one year and you are moving from breastfeeding/pumping to formula, you DO replace every nursing session with formula.   Breastmilk to formula is ounce per ounce.  When friends of mine weaned, they mixed their bottles with half breastmilk/half formula and slowly transitioned to full formula bottles.
Sometimes babies actually wean themselves.  They may lose interest in breastfeeding, which Jude & Sloane both started to do.  They never refused to nurse, but towards the end they nursed solely to eat and were done immediately after.  I'm not saying you must wean at this time, but it can definitely make weaning easier if both sides are ready!
Make sure they are getting enough nutrition from other sources.  Breastmilk and formula are so good for your babies - make the solid food replacements count!

If they're old enough when you wean, give them whole milk in a sippy cup instead of a bottle.  That's one less battle you have to face down the road!
Weaning is a huge decision so make sure you are truly ready.  I thought I was ready but I wasn't.  I wrote more about that here, and the only reason I'm bringing it up on Twin Talk is because I don't want someone else to go through what I did.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment or feel free to email me!

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  1. I have no idea why my first comment published under my craft email account! :) Well let's try this again...

    I LOVED this post! I just weaned Huddy since Millie will be here in a month; so grateful my supply stayed while I was pregnant. I loved the 15 months of breastfeeding and i TOTALLY agree that it was so much easier to wean when I could he was ready. Babies know what they need and I watched him for ques throughout the process. And nighttime was our last to go too! Thanks for writing this!

  2. So much great information in your blog little mama! So proud of you ladies for taking the time to share your information. I learned more from my breastfeeding twin mommy friends via online than anyone else. (not sure why you and I never really talked back then). I hardly ever called my LC. I, too, weaned very slowly and we completely finished at 16 months. I miss it some days but I think it was the perfect timing for them though. They were ready, I could just tell. I'm so proud of myself for doing it.

  3. Good call on going more than one week between dropping feedings! I just did one week in between and thought everything was ok, but I think I rushed it too soon and dealt with some major engorgement after dropping the last feeding!!

  4. Thank you for this very well timed post! My girls are 10 months now and have started to really speed up their nursing sessions - sometimes as quick as two or three minutes. This is similar to what my first daughter did, so I'm getting ready to follow their lead on weaning. However, I've experimented with cutting out both the evening feeding (resulted in nighttime wake ups) and the afternoon feeding (resulted in scream-fests at 5 pm) so I'm not sure either of those should be the first to go. I think there's probably more science behind cutting the lunch sessions than you realized - good work! I'll try that one next, replace with whole milk, and see how it goes. PS - you looked FANTASTIC three weeks post birth! :)