Postpartum health with multiples. The pressures of being a mom, a partner, an employee and a woman
Don’t cry over spilled milk? Well-don’t ever say that to a pumping mom of twins!
When Nina had beautiful twin girls, the pressures took their toll. Starting with an emergency C-section, Nina felt like a failure. When keeping up with a demanding breastfeeding schedule seemed impossible, she turned to formula to supplement— leaving her with feelings of shame and guilt. She questioned being enough for the babies, for her business, for her partner and for herself. We chatted with OBGYN and Bobbie Medical Advisor Jane Van Dis about making space for ourselves and for each other without judgment.
Dr Jane: The twin mom who produces enough milk for two babies is an anomaly!
Supplementing with formula: I feel FREEDOM.Nina
Dr Jane: It’s very normal for twin mothers and mothers of higher order multiples, to need to supplement, due to supply. I was a twin mother with inadequate supply and I supplemented pretty much from day 1 after bringing the twins home.
The pressure to exclusively breastfeed is part of a portrait of motherhood that we need to jettison – To have a perfect pregnancy, a perfect birth and a perfect postpartum. The problem with each of these scenarios is that we aren’t perfect – nor are we supposed to be – and holding ourselves to those expectations only serves to deepen our guilt and debilitating self-talk. Social media doesn’t help here either. What we need to do is make space for ourselves (and each other) and stop judging ourselves by others’ expectations and by unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves on the day we found out we were expecting. Children present as many unexpected joys as challenges. They are unpredictable beautiful beings and we need to stop measuring our worth by predictable markers – like whether we are able to exclusively breastfeed or not.
I’m weepy all the time because I haven’t slept.Nina
Dr Jane: I warn patients about getting into a mental loop of self-blame. Stress can affect overall mental health, including milk supply
Be on the lookout for some key signs of postpartum depression:
Losing interest in the infant
Crying excessively throughout the day and/or night
Loss of appetite
Feeling unable to sleep or sleeping in excess
Thoughts of self harm or harm to others
These are all signals that a mom needs professional help, ASAP. Luckily there are telehealth options for postpartum mental health, so moms don’t have to wait weeks to see someone. Most of the apps can have you connected to someone within a few hours, if not, definitely the same day. Some can prescribe virtually, while others can offer talk therapy.
Regarding COVID, breastfeeding and the vaccine
(This video was recorded in Spring of 2020. For updated vaccine information, visit the CDC website.)
Dr Jane: Nina stops breastfeeding as she becomes eligible for receiving the vaccine. In my advice, absolutely women who are breastfeeding SHOULD get the vaccine. Countless studies have shown that mothers who produce COVID antibodies – like those produced after getting the COVID vaccine – pass those antibodies onto their children through breastmilk. Since there is no vaccine for infants yet passive immunity through pregnancy or breastfeeding is the only way to provide infants some degree of protection from the COVID virus.
To support you through your feeding journey (and to drown out the sound of the pump), we’re bringing parents a first of its kind guided meditation with our partners at Mindful Mamas. If Nina’s story resonates with you, we suggest listening to ‘Gratitude For Every Drop’. Open the app below: Click Guided > Feeding Baby > Gratitude For Every Drop. This content is brought to you free by the team at Bobbie through November 30th, 2021.