I discovered Davina Wright, when she posted this Time Cover, and I had to know more ! Davina Wright, is a mom to triplets, Willow, Connor, & Summer. First of all, hats off to this mama for choosing to breastfeed, not just one kid , but three, at the same time! Her triplets are now four years old and she is "still" breastfeeding. I wanted Davina, to answer some questions and share her journey, to dispel some of the myths about breastfeeding to natural term, and breastfeeding multiples, and also give people a little insight inside her world.
I always knew I was going to breastfeed. When I found out it was triplets, my hopes for a home birth, and working up until I gave birth all went out the window, so I hung onto the thought that I would breastfeed for sure...I didn't know how, but I was damn sure not going to lose that too!
I was terrified when I found out it was triplets, (background-I have two older kids, now aged 24 and 22, their dad, my first husband, died 10 years ago and then I met my present husband who had never had kids and wanted one...they all egged me on, saying 'Mum you should so have another baby it would be so cool!' So I was nervous, but excited about A baby...ending up with 3 at 40 years old was not on the plan!) I didn't know if we could afford it, if I would have the energy, how high risk the pregnancy would be, would all the babies survive? It was a stressful pregnancy, but the thought of breastfeeding was more of a calming factor, something I knew would only help them, when there would be so many other things I couldn't do, like wear them all in slings, breastfeeding was something I knew I could provide.
After about 9 months they started becoming aware of the concept that someone had to wait for booby and the competition became fierce, I tried all sorts of things to keep the third one happy, without much luck, until about 2 years ago I tried nursing only one at a time, and the realization that someone else had to wait as well seemed to make it not so bad. They were never on a schedule, I went against 'standard' triplet advice which was to get them on a strict schedule (that seemed to me to apply mainly to formula fed triplets and I knew about supply and demand for breastfeeding so knew not to clock watch), so actually it was rare when they were tiny babies that I would have all three crying for a feed. One baby liked to sleep 4-5 hours, one did 5-6 hours, and one woke every 1-3 hours, so I let them sleep if they slept (who wouldn't????) and fed them when they woke. When it was bedtime I would take one at a time and nurse them to sleep. So the tandem thing, although I did do it, wasn't really done often in the early days.
These days the feeds are first thing in the morning, which is two at a time, then one swaps out...and a feed to sleep, which is one at a time, given they are all in their own beds. Sometimes they get boobie if they are really upset or hurt themselves more than just a bump, in which case that is also one at a time.
I have never worried about my supply. I have never taken any supplements to boost supply. If the babies seemed fussy or were going through a growth spurt I simply put them on the breast. I know that breasts are never truly empty so they were always getting something, plus there is the comfort factor. I was very lucky to not have other toddlers to run round after, or paid work outside the home to go to, so I was able to simply take on breastfeeding as a full time job, which it pretty much was for at least 6 months. I saw nursing as an opportunity to put my feet up and thus get extra rest. I didn't worry about my weight or food intake for a full year. I made sure to drink plenty of water. And the most important thing I think, was a belief in myself, and my body's ability.
My husband, never having had kids, trusted me to know what I was doing, and supported me all the way. In some ways, I think being a childless bachelor for 45 years meant that he was never exposed to breastfeeding, so what he sees me do is the norm. I have been extremely lucky to actually not have any problems (aside from having three babies!). I have had no thrush, no mastitis, no clogged ducts, no tongue ties/lip ties, no supply problems, good feeders, none of the endless stream of issues that can and do come up for so many mothers. So in a way, it has probably looked really easy to him! Even now he is very supportive. I have become a LLL leader which he thinks is awesome, and that pic that I just put out there he is very proud of.
What I did struggle with was, huge sleep deprivation, the feelings of guilt when babies are crying that you can't get to them because you are feeding/changing someone else. Just triplets in general, is a huge struggle, but as I say I was very lucky to not have any breastfeeding issues at all.
At four years old, and actually since about 1, these guys are ravenous for solid food! Today (like most days) they have eaten toast, cereal, (with cows milk!), grapes, bananas, apples, strawberries, crackers, macaroni cheese, ham sandwiches, and an ice cream as a treat. Plus they have water bottles on hand all the time and drink plenty of that.
At the moment they nurse definitely twice a day, sometimes 3-4. They all sleep through the night, although in times of sickness, or a nightmare, or a lost teddy out of bed, they may want boobie to go back to sleep. I didn't sleep train them, and so the first one slept 10-12 hours solid at around 1 year old, the second one at 18 months, and the last one finally slept through 1 week shy of turning 2 years old. (That was the one who liked to nurse every 1-3 hours, and he did that timing all the way through the 2 years until one night out of the blue he slept for 12 hours, and has done ever since!)
They will start pre-school next year, and school in November next year. No I don't worry about them wanting to nurse when I'm not there. More than likely they won't be nursing by the time they start school, but if they are, feeds will probably only be a nursing to sleep at night thing. I think kids are very adaptable, maybe the first time they fall over and cry for booby they might get upset that I'm not there, but it won't take them long to adjust.
I discovered an attachment parenting Facebook page when the babies were about 3-4 months old, that is where I learned about the importance of self-weaning. My first two self-weaned at around 13-14 months and I remember being devastated. I don't know where I got the idea from, but I wanted to nurse for at least a couple of years. When I got pregnant with the triplets I remember setting the goal of 2 years with them, but to see how it went after that. As I learned more about attachment parenting and child-led weaning I realized I wanted to do that, it seemed like the kindest way for the child...especially when by this stage, nursing is more about comfort and an emotional attachment than it is about nutrition. I didn't understand why I would offer them this bond only to rip it away when it suited me. We have had a bit of a rollercoaster since they were born in New Zealand, moving to Hong Kong at 18 months, moving to Australia just a couple of months ago...so for our family, their one constant has been mummy and boobie. I notice every time we move they become a little extra clingy for a while and the connection we have through nursing seems to help them adjust. All that moving is not the norm for most families, and it's not my main reason for still feeding, but breastfeeding has certainly proven it's worth at those times!
Teething never bothered me and I have rarely been bitten. I did however, go through a phase of being pinched! One of them liked to pinch me really hard on the arm as he nursed to sleep, so bad it left bruises, but I couldn't stop him or it would wake him up and scare him, (quite the opposite result I was going for!) so I just rolled with it until he stopped after probably 3-4 months.
I have heard people say when they can ask for boob they shouldn't breastfeed. Well funny enough, mine had no actual speech until after 2 1/2 years, so they didn't verbally ask for it until about 3 years old...So even if I did believe that, I would've nursed for 3 years! If other people believe that is a good cut off point, then that is fine, I have no problem with other people's beliefs. I actually don't understand why 'verbalization' or 'the ability to drink from a cup' means that a child shouldn't be breastfed, and as it makes no real sense to me, I can't follow it as a parenting ideal. I like facts, I like research, I like things that make sense, and I just can't see any factual reasoning behind 'cup drinking means breastfeeding is no longer beneficial/needed/necessary.
To the people who say I shouldn't breastfeed at this age because they may remember it, I hope they DO remember it, because I know that what they will remember a bond with mummy, a time of quiet snuggling in my lap, of falling asleep in the most contented way, of a place they went to for comfort when they were feeling hurt or turmoil, they will remember the thing that made everything better for them. And even though my big girls don't actually remember the breastfeeding, I know that they see what I do now with their siblings as a wonderful thing, they are proud of me because they have been raised by a strong, loving badass breastfeeder. These kids will grow up just the same...how could they possibly be repulsed or embarrassed or ashamed by the thought of breastfeeding when they are being raised with the knowledge that this is normal and wonderful.
I stopped breastfeeding in public around the age of two, for a couple of reasons....number one, we were living in Hong Kong at the time, and I didn't know how they culturally felt about public breastfeeding or breastfeeding to natural term...number two, we were a circus wherever we went, people photographing us, looking at us, trying to touch them, so trying to breastfeed (which included at least one of them being very vocally upset that they were missing out!), made us even more visible. There was no way to discreetly breastfeed 2 year old triplets in Hong Kong! But just the other day we were at the hospital and one of them fell over and banged their head and I said yes to boobie, so if the situation seems to warrant it, I do still occasionally do it. But it will always be one at a time, I personally don't feel comfortable tandem feeding in public, it's very difficult to be discreet! (I never used a cover, but pull up my top, rather than pull down, and the child sits in my lap covering any stomach that is showing, tandem feeding require a pulling up of the whole top and each child sits to the side which shows all the tummy and most of the boobies!) No I have never had anyone say anything negative to me, most people are probably thinking 'she has triplets, she could probably kick my ass!' Just kidding! But no, not in 4 years have I had anyone say anything.
If I could give advice to a new breastfeeding mom, I would say, "This is your journey, with your baby, and you should feel happy and guilt-free to do whatever works for you. None of it is 'wrong' as it is your journey...personal to you. No-one can tell you what is right for you. Surround yourself with support, do your research, listen to your inner voice, and all will be well. You can do whatever you set your mind to. Believe in yourself, trust in your baby."