With Honest Feeding Stories, you’ll hear from parents like you about one of the most intimate and important experiences of family life. Happiness and heartbreak, serenity and struggle, joy and tears — it’s all here in their own words. Presented with our support and without judgment, these stories remind us that the choices we make to nourish our children are truly unique.
Kerry and Brian Fee are the parents of 5 children — one son and a set of quadruplets — and frequent contributors to Honestly, The Honest Company Blog.
Once the reality of having quadruplets set in, I wondered how I was going to manage feeding them!
With my first son, I wanted to exclusively breastfeed him because my husband and I wanted all of the benefits of breast milk. Fortunately, I was able to produce an abundance of milk and my son was exclusively breastfed for over a year.
With the quads, I didn’t think I’d be able to produce enough milk for all four for a year, so I fully expected to supplement with formula. I also knew I didn’t want to breastfeed, because I wanted them all on the same feeding schedule. So, I decided I would pump and bottle feed the babies from the start. That way they could all be fed at once and other people could help me feed them. (I was a nanny for triplets years ago, so I had some experience in this department.) I had no idea how much milk I would be able to produce, but I actually surprised myself — and the NICU nurses — with how much I was able to give my babies. While they were in the hospital, I would pump at home and bring the milk in bottles for the NICU to store for feeding. I was able to feed them exclusively breast milk for a month and we started supplementing with formula once we came home.
I may have been able to breastfeed longer, but the demand on my body was just too much. Deprived of sleep, food, and drink, my supply was being affected. Then, I had to pump for 20-30 minutes every 2 hours just to produce enough to feed my babies. Pumping and feeding, that’s all I was doing! I needed more time to rest, but increasing the amount of time between pumping sessions also lowered my supply. I had researched online about how much milk the babies could have and still get the benefits: just a small amount was good enough, so we were comfortable with reducing the amount of pumping. I felt guilty about the tradeoff, but I knew I would be no good to them if I wasn’t healthy. I also never pumped overnight, since we were already getting up every 4 hours to feed the babies. Over the course of their first year, I slowly reduced the amount of time I was pumping until about 11 months, when I stopped pumping completely. I’m not gonna lie – I was so relieved not to be chained to my pump anymore! I gained more time in my day to rest, clean and do whatever else needed to be done. It was one less thing to have to stress about.
My advice on feeding as a mother of multiples is simple: Let go of your expectations and be flexible about what comes your way. It may not work out as planned. You may not be able to produce much milk, if any. Your babies may have reflux. Your babies may hate your bottles. Your babies may reject the formula. There are many challenges that you will have to face on two hours of sleep (if you’re lucky!) and you need to be able to roll with the punches. Have an arsenal of techniques at your disposal because every baby is different, and you need to use trial and error to see what works for your family. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. And, of course, try to accept as much help as possible because it takes an army!
-Kerry, Bridgewater, New Jersey