Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Breastfeeding & Supplementing

Hello! I am Nicole O’Donnell, a full-time working mom to two 8-month-old twin girls Teagan and Avery, living in Philadelphia, Pa.

This post originally started out as a sort of day in the life post as a pumping, working mama, but evolved into a post on breastfeeding with formula supplementation.

Ah breastfeeding. What a stressful topic for mothers. So much judgment! Luckily, here at Twin Talk we have found a stress-free zone to be able to share our stories of being twin moms and how we survive.

Because really, it's all about survival.

This post is my story of how I decided to breastfeed and supplement with formula for my twin girls.

My husband and I found out we were having twins – surprise – at an 8 week ultrasound. I had a relatively healthy pregnancy until my third trimester when I had blood pressure issues. After my second 24-hour urine test (yes ladies, I carried around my urine for 24 hours not once, but twice!) and third trip to the ER in a month, my doctors induced me at 35 weeks and 5 days.

On April 27, 2014 at 12:46 p.m. Teagan was born at 5lbs 6oz and at 12:50 p.m. Avery was born at 4lbs 7oz.

Luckily, we had no NICU time and they latched like little champs. In fact, during our first skin to skin the girls both started wriggling their little bodies to my breast and the nurse was like “Ummm, ok time to try feeding them!”

Only one problem – my milk didn't come in for five days. The girls’ weights dropped scary low. Avery was down to 3lbs 14oz at one point! On our third day home with the girls, our pediatrician recommended formula until my milk caught up. We did 24 hours of readymade Enfamil formula plus nursing and eventually my milk began to flow.

2-weeks-old, chicken legs for days!
Since those beginning days, I have tandem breastfed the girls, supplementing one bottle of formula every night before bed. It worked very well for us. They'd already tried formula and they needed to practice bottles for when I returned to work…so we just kept the formula bottle in the mix.

We use Tommy Tippy bottles. We love them, although have only ever tried Dr. Brown bottles during a bout of colic around eight weeks. The Dr. Brown bottles did nothing in my opinion to calm my stressed out colicky girls, and really just made me mad because of the extra pieces to wash.

We used Emfamil readymade formula for about five months, until Teagan started REFUSING the formula bottle. There were a few weeks when she would not drink the formula, and I would give her an extra nursing session.

Until it dawned on me – duh – to try something different. We switched to Enfamil powdered formula and it has been great, she eats it right up. Honestly, the powdered is so much better, it’s cheaper, it doesn’t smell as bad as the readymade and it even looks like breast milk.

When I returned to work three days a week in July, I was able to pump 20oz a day. That easily covered us for the three days I was away. I started four days a week at the end of October and my production went way down. It was also the same time the girls started solid food, so maybe they were nursing less at each session?

At that point, the girls were 6 months old and they had a pretty good schedule. They nursed before I left for work, had two BM bottles during the day, along with solid foods for breakfast and lunch, nursed when I got home, had solid foods for dinner and a bottle of formula before bed. I was able to pump two times at work, and once at 4 a.m. to get enough milk to cover for when I was away.

Starting in late November, I began work five days a week and I am honestly lucky to get 10 to 15 ounces a day in two to three pumping sessions. Due to an awful sleep regression stage we are currently enjoying, I am unable to pump at 4 a.m., and without that extra pump I am struggling to have enough milk.

I am not ready to stop nursing, and I was desperate to provide two BM bottles for each girl five days a week. After a few weeks of trying additional pumping sessions that didn’t work, pumping at 5 a.m. with a sleeping baby in bed next to me, crying over a morning pump at work that only netted three ounces, drinking 100 ounces of water in a day, eating oatmeal for breakfast and lunch…I decided that the girls will be fine if they get an additional bottle of formula during the day.

Here is the girls’ current eating schedule:
  • Wake up 6 a.m.
  • Nurse 7 a.m.
  • Oatmeal cereal and fruit 8:30 a.m.
  • 4-5 oz breast milk 9/9:30 a.m.
  • 1 hour Nap 10 a.m.
  • Veggies and fruit and/or yogurt 12:30 p.m.
  • 4-5 oz formula 1:30 p.m.
  • 2 hour Nap
  • Maybe 2-3 oz formula or breast milk after wake up to hold over until I get home
  • Nurse 5/5:30 p.m.
  • Meat and veggies and fruit and/or yogurt 5:30/6 p.m.
  • 4 oz formula 7 p.m.
  • Nurse to sleep 8 p.m.
  • Maybe one nursing session overnight between 3 and 4 a.m.
The solid food is moving things around. They LOOOOOOOVE their solid food, but are eating smaller, more frequent bottles.

Also, I am in desperate need of some sleep regression tips, right now we are just nursing and sometimes sleeping in bed with mommy and daddy. But that’s another post I suppose.

I would say to any twin mom out there who is deciding to supplement: Breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing. I have thoroughly enjoyed breastfeeding my girls, and the formula we give them is just part of the deal. If I had not decided to supplement, I may not have made it this far. I plan to keep the nursing and pumping up until the girls are 12 months old. My babies are happy and healthy and love to eat…no matter what it is we are giving them!

At the shore with 11-week-olds…we look tired!



  1. Thanks for sharing your story! Helps to remind me that any amount of breastmilk my babies get is ok. I also bf and supplement my 30 Weekers with fomula due to low supply. I did my best to eliminate need for supplement but we were not successful. I return to work Monday and I know they will get less bm because I don't respond well to the pump. Again, thanks for sharing, bless you!

    1. Thanks!! You are so sweet, and good luck with returning to work!

    2. I so appreciate your perspective on this topic. I'll admit to being a weeeee bit stressed out about the whole breastfeeding situation. This is a great reminder that there is no one right way to feed your babies. Of course breast milk is best but not at the cost of the babies health and our sanity! Great post. Thanks for sharing!

    3. Thanks! Every family has to do whats best for their situation. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for this post. I also give my 9 month old twins a combo of breast milk and formula. I started formula when I went back to work. I often wish I could go back in time and tell myself to not worry so much about giving them formula in those early weeks. I really think I would have enjoyed them more, rather than spending my days stressing about having enough breast milk to give them.

    1. Thanks! It took me awhile to get to this point...but now instead of stressing about each.and.every.ounce. I am just enjoying my beautiful family!