As I have hired a confinement nanny who will be here until the babies are 6 weeks old, my first month with the twins was relatively smooth. The real challenge will start after she leaves…
With someone helping to care for the babies, my focus during the first month was just on feeding them, caring for my 2 elder ones and myself.
Other than the confinement nanny, my sturdy Medela Freestyle breast pump is my next best companion. I bought it after I gave birth to my second child and used it for 8 months. My sister-in-law used it for at least another 6 months.
I had a smooth start with breastfeeding, as my colostrum started building up in the hospital since day 2. As mentioned in my earlier post, I planned to start pumping in the hospital and I did, but 2 days later than expected due to my slow recovery. There were other mothers who had an early start with the pumping too. The nurses were encouraging and I didn’t feel as pressurized as compared to my previous births. Well, I gave birth to all my children in Mount Alvernia Hospital and I like the place. The nurses ware nurturing and they highly encouraged breastfeeding, so much so that I thought they were pushing me too hard after my first birth. On hindsight, they were not. I was just unsure of my ability to breastfeed. All new mothers feel the same, I believe.
After my most recent delivery, the nurses asked if I desired to feed every 2 to 3 hours. But they also reminded me to slow down as I have twins and 2 older ones at home, so I need to take care of myself first.
Note that I did not request for 100% breastfeeding since I have 2 to feed. I asked the nurses to supplement the babies with formula milk (30ml) after each feed. The nurses did not bottle feed the babies. Instead they opted for cup feeding to avoid nipple confusion. Click here for expert explanation. Although I expressed my desire to learn cup feeding, a senior nurse advised against it as cup feeding has risk of choking and should only be performed by the professionals.
Perhaps because the twins are rather small, they suckle with little strength. Each of them can take up to an hour to latch and yet not feel satisfied. This is just incredibly time-consuming for me, thus I have decided to express my breast milk to save time and energy. Todate, we continue to bottle feed the babies, and complement with daily latching as a secondary source of feeding to ensure that the babies remain comfortable with both feeding methods. I am also not ashamed to mention that my supply is only sufficient for 1 baby, thus we supplement their feeds with formula milk. We have been using NUK bottles (shop here) since our first baby. NUK bottles are anti-colic and BPA-free. These bottles are recommended by most nursing mothers as the shape of the teats complements breast-feeding.
Perhaps because the babies are my 3rd and 4th child, I am no longer so hung up about feeding them with breast milk or formula milk. I felt like a loser when my first child didn’t latch well and we had to rely partially on formula milk. Breastfeeding only lasted for 3 months. As for my second child, I was very determined to succeed so I expressed every 2 to 3 hours. Supply built up and I started having excess which I froze for later use. This time round, I decided that I will go easy on myself since I have 4 kids to manage. Thus, we feed the babies with formula at night to ensure they last longer (3 hourly feeds). Breast milk will last them for only 2 hours.
A good friend once told me that formula milk is not poison when I told her my predicament with my first-born. I couldn’t see where she was coming from. She has a child and she understood this point right from the start.
I selected a confinement lady who is more easy-going. There are some nannies who prefer to adhere to traditional practices and would require new mums not to shower, wear layers of clothes and shoes to prevent wind from entering the body, etc. While these insistence are well-intended, I know I will not be able to comply with them and thus found a nanny who is more flexible. I am happy with her services and find her a nurturing lady who loves babies.
My nanny serves me at least 4 meals a day. The 5th meal is an occasional afternoon sweet dessert if the 2 babies sleep well in the afternoon. Main meals include confinement related dishes and regular dishes that the rest of my family members can eat. She also prepares red date drinks, herbal soups and lemongrass drinks to help me with my recovery.
My 2 older ones
Honestly, with 2 newborns at home, I can no longer give the 2 older ones the same amount of attention. It becomes challenging when two or more children need my attention at the same time. I am still finding ways to step up further. For example, I may have to feed a baby while coaching my son his schoolwork. The thought of the second baby crying at the same time after the confinement nanny leaves petrifies me.
I tell myself it will get easier as the babies grow older and the elder ones get more independent gradually.
Getting back to shape
I could move about in the house after 1 week plus. But having multiple layers of skins cut is no joke. Pain is still lurking beneath my skin, only to appear when I perform slightly strenuous activity such as walking a longer distance.
I started very mild yoga exercises from the 4th week onwards, avoiding poses that work on the tummy. Other than having weakened muscles, the mild exercises helped me notice that I have joint pains in many parts of my body. I am also suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome which is causing numbness, tingling sensation and pain in my limbs and fingers. Till now, I cannot carry out basic yoga poses such as downwards facing dog and warrior 1.
I hired a massage lady. Post-natal massage not only helps to remove water retention and wind in the body, it also helps to reduce the joint pains and numbness in my limbs. An experienced masseur is also able to speed up the reduction of the uterus to its normal size.
Food complementing massage to reduce wind from the body includes ginger, black pepper, sesame oil, and lemongrass.
As I like to believe in natural remedy, I also drip peppermint essential oil and lavender essential oil into my avocado oil (shop here) for moisturizing my tummy skin. Peppermint helps to get rid of wind from the body and is also helpful to reduce the carpal tunnel symptoms. Lavender helps remove scars on my tummy as a result of eczema which occurred during my pregnancy and avocado oil promotes skin elasticity.
Asians use ginger and lemongrass heavily for confinement. My masseur, an Indonesian, recommends making a drink by boiling cinnamon stick, lemongrass and ginger in water to further reduce wind in the body. I would suggest adding black sugar, another ingredient often used for confinement, to improve the taste of the drink.
I will enjoy the remaining one week of luxury with the nanny around. Thereafter, it is just me and my helper to handle the 4 kids….