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View Full Version : 1 woman breastfeeding 4 babies: possible?


MsWhich
10-17-2001, 10:25 PM
I was just idly pondering this, because I was watching either "A Baby Story" or "Maternity Ward" on cable the other day, and they had a story about a woman who was carrying quadruplets. So I was thinking to myself, in such a situation, does a woman actually produce enough milk to feed four babies? Or is that physically impossible? I am assuming that due to time constraints she would not be able to actually breastfeed them exclusively, but could she express enough breastmilk to bottlefeed them with breastmilk?

Just curious. I know women with twins are able to breastfeed both, but I have no idea about quads. Personally I'm happy to just be carrying the one.

Reeder
10-17-2001, 10:28 PM
Yes..the more they take..the more you make.

To coin a phrase..:)

China Guy
10-18-2001, 03:53 AM
Need a doctor or midwife or someone like that to chime in here.

Basic equation is that newborns feed every two hours, each feeding takes about 30 minutes. 4 bambino's and you're breastfeeding 24 hours a day with no downtime to produce a store of breast milk. Sounds pretty impossible to me but then again I don't lactate.

flodnak
10-18-2001, 05:00 AM
Hmm, China Guy, I'd say you're making two false assumptions there. The first is that babies routinely feed for thirty minutes every two hours. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I can't think of any baby I've known who has done both those things on a regular basis over a longer period of time. Many moms of multiples also learn to nurse two babies at once, which would cut down on the time spent nursing. The second misconception is that time is needed to "build up a store" of breastmilk - in fact, the body can make breastmilk very quickly while the child is nursing. A lactating woman's breasts are never empty.

It seems to me that milk supply would be the least of her problems. The equipment is only built for two babies at a time. Two breasts, two arms. Quadruplets are always born prematurely, as well, and many of the medical problems common among preemies reduce the chances of successfully breastfeeding. They'd also likely spend time in an incubator, and would need to be tube- or bottle-fed first, meaning they might reject the breast when they were finally strong enough to nurse. She'd need to drink a lot of water and choose her foods very carefully to prevent dehydration and malnutrition.

That said, I know of mothers of triplets who have managed to nurse them all, at least for a few months. A very dedicated quadruplet mother, with a lot of help, might be able to pull it off... but she would have time for very little outside of feeding the babies and taking care of her own basic needs.

Mangetout
10-18-2001, 05:49 AM
There won't be a lot of sleep involved, that's for sure.

TomH
10-18-2001, 06:59 AM
Can she produce enough milk? Probably. Like Reeder says, feeding stimulates the production of milk, so the more the more a baby (or babies) feed, the more milk is produced. This is why one woman can provide enough milk for twins, if necessary, or provide only enough for one baby without becoming hideously engorged.

Is it practical? Depends. Feeding intervals and feeding times vary tremendously between different mother-baby pairs (pace China Guy) and it is possible to feed two babies in tandem. So, if they feed for 30 mins every 3-4 hours, it's perfectly possible. Then again, if they feed for one hour every two hours it's going to be pretty difficult. It also depends on other factors like how sore the mother's nipples get, whether they become damaged or not, and so on (same goes for breastfeeding one child).

One of the best sources of information on breastfeeding is La Leche League (http://laleche.org.uk/). Here are some articles from their website about feeding multiple babies and tendem feeding:

Extract from Mothering Multiples (http://lalecheleague.org/books/multiples3.html) and a review (http://lalecheleague.org/NB/NBMarApr00p48.html) of the same.

Breastfeeding triplets (http://lalecheleague.org/NB/NBSepOct92.mult.html)

A personal account (http://lalecheleague.org/NB/NBJanFeb96.mult.html) of breastfeeding triplets.

Beadalin
10-18-2001, 10:18 AM
Wet nurses were fairly common in Europe and elsewhere for hundreds of years, and as I understand it, wet nurses would (though not always) care for multiple children.

From this site (http://sites.netscape.net/mariedavisrnclc/history.html):
While the upper class could pay for wet nurses, the "general population resorted
to group nursing, to passing a baby around if the mother couldn't nurse, if she was out in the fields or if she died (Raphael 49)." Wet nurses also had a vital function in foundling homes (orphanages). In one Paris Hospital for abandoned babies, an Obstetrician named Pierre Budin, estimated that a wet nurse breastfed as often as thirty times a day; producing up to five quarts of milk per day. The greater the demand for their milk the more the wet nurses produced. (Baumslag and Michels 40)

LiquidLobotomy
10-18-2001, 12:17 PM
I've heard that when a woman becomes pregnant that her breasts become enlarged, presumably as they start producing milk. If this is true, then does that mean a woman who gives birth to quad's (and breast-feeds them) will increase her bust line more than a woman who only has a single child? What are the proportions? Is it one kid = one cup size? Could an A cup go to a DD with quads?

Lucky
10-18-2001, 01:05 PM
Liquid, as a pregnant person, I can correct one misconception in your post.

The breasts don't enlarge becasue they fill with milk. they start growing WAY before that. I don't know why, but I haven't fit into any of my regular bras since I hit 5 months, and I understand this is common.

In light of this, I doubt the size increase is related to the nubmer of babies. Hopefully someone with the full scoop can fill us in.

MsWhich
10-18-2001, 01:23 PM
Hmm, thanks for all the responses. I think my question has been answered: "Yes, a woman can produce that much milk, but may have a logistical problem in actually feeding all four children that way."

The human body is an amazing thing.

LiquidLobotomy
10-18-2001, 01:27 PM
Thanks Lucky, without getting too personal can I ask you a question? You said that you weren't fitting into your bras anymore and that's common, but about how much bigger did they get? It sounds like a full cup size, or was it more? Do the breasts change at all, or is it a proportional growth? Is it temporary?

cher3
10-18-2001, 01:35 PM
Liquid,

I went up from a C/D to a DD. Yes it is proportional and the breasts are largest about a week after you give birth when the milk comes in. They are also horrifically sensitive, or at least mine were. Taking a shower was not fun. They shrink somewhat after that but don't return to "normal" until after you stop nursing. It took about a month for me to be back to my usual size.

The nipples can also become larger and darker, especially if you are fair to begin with. This also fades after you finish nursing.


TMI, for your viewing pleasure.

CrankyAsAnOldMan
10-18-2001, 01:46 PM
Originally posted by MsWhatsit


The human body is an amazing thing.

You know, it is. It really is. It just amazes me that a baby can live on that--get absolutely everything it needs--just from what its mother can produce.

My cans didn't get that much bigger when I was pregnant or breastfeeding, FWIW. I'm a C-cup.

Breastfeeding multiples means a new mom needs to be doing what all moms should do but usually don't. Go to bed, with the babies, and spend the first few weeks just nursing and sleeping and drinking fluids. Screw the laundry, the shopping, the thank-you notes.

MsWhich
10-18-2001, 01:57 PM
Regarding chest size increase: this may be TMI, but I started out this pregnancy as a 36B. Last weekend I was measured by the lady with the measuring tape at Victoria's Secret, and she informed me I am now a 40D. I am in my sixth month of pregnancy. In a word, yikes.

Mom tells me that she also gained cup sizes, but after she was finished breastfeeding, she "deflated" somewhat. She's still a cup size higher than where she started, though.

Sue Duhnym
10-18-2001, 02:25 PM
I started as a 34 D-DD (depending on the bra). At my biggest (when my milk came in) I was a 36 H. Even my husband thought they were too big...and he's a breast man.

They gradually shrunk over the course of the year I nursed until they went down to a 36DD for the last couple of months. And that's where I sit now, nearly 2 years after I quit nursing.

I cannot imagine how much food and water a woman would need to nurse quads. I think they recommend an extra 500 calories/day for one kid. You would have to eat twice as much, take plenty of viatmin supplements and drink gallons of water. It would be a daunting task.

Max Torque
10-18-2001, 02:37 PM
Well, my brother's wife had triplets in March. When I went to visit them for the first time....well, picture if you will a small chest freezer, say with a yard and a half of cubic space or so. Now picture that entire space FILLED with little bottles full of breast milk.

She produced plenty, lemme tell ya. She did a lot of pumping, but her body's resources greatly exceeded her children's need for milk. And yes, she drank a lot, mostly cranberry juice, Tang, stuff like that.

LiquidLobotomy
10-18-2001, 03:04 PM
Whoa, from a B to a D. Interesting. Thanks Cher3 by the way.

From what I'm hearing it sounds like while the breasts may get larger, they also get more sensitive- is that normal? If it is then that's no fun. (I don't mean to sound like a pig but... doesn't that stink to have bigger breasts and not be able to have fun with them?)

Actually from what my wife tells me, bigger breast aren't always better. She sometimes has back pain and is cronically frusterated by the lack of "cute" bras. Apparently there is a gap from 36D to 36DD where bra makers only produce, in her words (not mine! I like her bras!) "Old Granny Bras." I guess from what she says there are cute bras for 38DD and 34DD but none in the land of the 36DD.

Also, how is it that the nipple changes color? I don't understand how that could happen...isn't that pigment?

LiquidLobotomy
10-18-2001, 03:09 PM
Whoa, from a B to a D. Interesting. Thanks Cher3 by the way.

From what I'm hearing it sounds like while the breasts may get larger, they also get more sensitive- is that normal? If it is then that's no fun. (I don't mean to sound like a pig but... doesn't that stink to have bigger breasts and not be able to have fun with them?)

Actually from what my wife tells me, bigger breast aren't always better. She sometimes has back pain and is chronically frustrated by the lack of "cute" bras. Apparently there is a gap from 36D to 36DD where bra makers only produce, in her words (not mine! I like her bras!) "Old Granny Bras." I guess from what she says there are cute bras for 38DD and 34DD but none in the land of the 36DD.

Also, how is it that the nipple changes color? I don't understand how that could happen...isn't that pigment?

cher3
10-18-2001, 03:19 PM
Originally posted by LiquidLobotomy


From what I'm hearing it sounds like while the breasts may get larger, they also get more sensitive- is that normal? If it is then that's no fun. (I don't mean to sound like a pig but... doesn't that stink to have bigger breasts and not be able to have fun with them?)


Also, how is it that the nipple changes color? I don't understand how that could happen...isn't that pigment?

The sensitivity fades after a couple of weeks, and in that first couple of weeks "fun" is the last thing on your mind, believe me.

I don't know what exactly causes the pigment change, but it can happen on other parts of the body, too. I got a dark line down the middle of my belly, starting at the navel. Some women also get dark patches on their faces. Just one of the effects of that lovely hormone cocktail that is pregnancy, I guess.

LiquidLobotomy
10-18-2001, 05:23 PM
Dark lines around the belly? Really? Did they fade away? There is so much I don't know about a woman's body, I feel pathetic. I try to learn as much as I can (hence my entrance to this thread) but with every step forward more questions surface. I'm not thinking about having kids anytime soon, but one of my coworkers is trying to have a kid now, and he is reading all these books about what women go through during pregnancy. My wife and I have had breast battles before (I love them, but she hates them- she thinks they are too large and unattractive. I don't get it- I would kill to have a set like hers!) So when I found out that women typically gain a few inches in the bust while pregnant I realized that this might be a sore point when we start thinking about having kids. I love my wife dearly and seek to do nothing but please her. But I have to admit it, the possibility of a temporary increase in her already able breast size excites me. Am I just a pig?

tsunamisurfer
10-18-2001, 05:40 PM
Originally posted by LiquidLobotomy
Dark lines around the belly? Really? Did they fade away? There is so much I don't know about a woman's body, I feel pathetic. I try to learn as much as I can (hence my entrance to this thread) but with every step forward more questions surface.

We admire your scholastic tenacity, LL--your thirst for knowledge, as it were.

[QUOTE]".. My wife and I have had breast battles before (I love them, but she hates them- she thinks they are too large and unattractive... But I have to admit it, the possibility of a temporary increase in her already able breast size excites me. Am I just a pig?

What other choices have we?

MsWhich
10-18-2001, 05:43 PM
Uh, this thread has definitely taken a turn for the worse. The possibility of attracting lactating/huge breast fetishists had really not occurred to me when I posted the OP. My original question has been answered, so mods, if you want to lock this baby up, I would not object.

cher3
10-18-2001, 05:51 PM
Yes, the lines and stuff do fade away. In fact, when I was in the bath, I could eventually kind of scruff bits of it off. It was fun, in its own gross little way.

Here's another fun fact: It's not only breasts that can get bigger with pregnancy. Feet can too. And that doesn't go away. Those terrific hormones loosen up all your ligaments, in preparation for birth, and that includes the ones in your feet. Combine that with the extra weight, and your feet just sort of spread out. I went up a whole size over the course of two babies.

One scourge of pregnancy that I did not get was stretch marks. I didn't do anything special, just luck of the genetic draw.

LiquidLobotomy
10-19-2001, 08:04 AM
Sorry, I wasn't trying to turn this thread into any kind of fetish thing. I'm just curious. Cher3, your feet got bigger? Wow, I take it that isn't unique. I thought stretch marks had to do with the increased waist size. I mean to say that because the increase in the mothers waist happens so fast (relatively) the skin doesn't have time to stretch normally, hence the stretch marks. It's genetic?

slipster
10-22-2001, 09:23 PM
There once was a woman that
Had Triplets named Matt, Pat and Tat
'Twas fun in the breeding
But hell in the feeding
'Cause there was no tit for tat.

Actually, I guess this contribution is sort of beside the point.

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