Lesley-Sheena Robbins, Nurturing Birth doula, shares her thoughts on Kathryn Stagg’s book
As a birth worker, I am always keen to get my hands on resources that are easy to digest, relatable, evidence-based and practical. A little while back I received an enquiry from a client who was pregnant with twins. The thought of breastfeeding twins felt very daunting to her, but she knew of the benefits of breastfeeding, so wanted to give it a go. She had questions about the logistics involved with feeding the babies, but one thing in particular that concerned her, was whether she would be able to produce enough milk for both her babies. I reassured her that her questions and concerns were warranted, and that together we would find resources that would help her feel informed and prepared for the journey that lay ahead.
I quickly discovered that information on breastfeeding was widely available, however, there was little that was tailored towards parents with multiples, in particular. So, when I recently learned about Kathryn’s book, I was eager to get my hands on it and wanted to share my thoughts.
Kathryn sets the tone of the book in the Introduction by emphasising the importance of positive antenatal conversations. She argues that, “it can help parents understand and feel more confident to take control of their pregnancy and birth and establish breastfeeding.” She highlights the importance of community, preparedness and encourages parents to research and ask about and consider the risks and benefits of interventions, so that they are able to make informed decisions as it relates to their situation.
I found it very helpful to learn about and be aware of some of the difficulties parents with multiples may be susceptible to, as I think it can help families meet and exceed their goals. I thought that Kathryn skilfully weaves the foundation of breastfeeding into the themes throughout the book including; preterm and late-term birth, mastitis, engorgement, to name but a few.
In the final chapter, she also briefly covers breastfeeding for older babies and toddlers.
Although parents eventually find a rhythm that work for them, I imagine parents-to-be (and perinatal practitioners), would find it very helpful to understand some of the logistics involved when you feed multiples. Whether that be how to; tandem feed, bottle-feed, breastfeed, triple feed, hand express, syringe feed or simply how you might feed your babies with a helper or no help.
Some of the more “softer” scenarios such as, the first 24 hours and the first 48 hours are also discussed in the book and offers helpful guidance for parents.
To conclude each chapter, she collates her key takeaway points into a “Top Tips for Parents” type of cheat sheet which I loved because it helped me consolidate the information.
I really appreciated that Kathryn’s views are supported by recent studies from a wide-ranging collection of sources, that also included some of the more commonly known organisations such as the Twins Trust, NICE and WHO and others.
It felt as though I was sitting at the table with tea in hand, while listening to snippets of the personal stories from parents. It certainly helps to bring to life the contents of the book and I imagine would offer parents-to-be some reassurance that others too have gone through what they are experiencing and indeed perhaps may experience in the future. As a birth worker I valued the opportunity to learn about the lived experiences of parents as I consider how I might best support parents and parents-to-be.
Easy to digest
I enjoyed that I did not have to read the book alongside a dictionary, because I could easily absorb and understand most of the terminology and phrases used, which makes it an easy read for anyone who is interested in learning about breast or bottle feeding for multiples.
I think the book is particularly helpful for parents of multiples that would like to establish or have a go at breastfeeding from the onset of birth.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it to anyone in the perinatal world, I think that practitioners with extensive experience in breastfeeding may find most of the content familiar. Having said that, I think the book does offer helpful insights that would prove valuable to parents with multiples and would serve as a great tool for one’s toolbox.
Lesley-Sheena is a Nurturing Birth doula supporting clients in and around the Oxford area. You can find Lesley-Sheena through her website or Nurturing Birth Directory listing: