Latching Rosie’s Twins Twice The Challenge

Rosie Ponifasio-Hughes is joining this year’s Big Latch On in Whangarei after overcoming latching challenges firstly with her baby boy – and then the double trouble of twins.

The Whangarei mum gave birth to son Hughie in 2013 and, like many mums, endured some pain and frustration while an Auckland lactation consultant went to work making the experience easier.

"After Hughie was born, weeks zero to eight, I put up with cracked nipples, blanching, repeated mastitis, low supply, latch issues, cup feeding, pumping, colic, reflux, low weight gain and supplementing.”

After three months, things were pain free and easy, Rosie said. Fast forward a few years and Rosie was surprised to see “two ying-yanged bubbles, each containing a perfect little bean” appear on the screen during her ultrasound. “After the initial shock wore off, my most pressing concern was not centred around the birth, but around how we would manage to feed them.”

Rosie used the drop in service available at Te Puawai Ora, which is Northland DHB’s pregnancy and lactation service. Rosie made three visits and worked with lactation consultant Helen Parker – who is a mother of twins herself – before boy and girl twins Ash and Lani were born. “[Lactation consulting] made a massive positive difference to us in getting our feeding experience off to the right start.”

While her boy and girl latched and commenced breastfeeding immediately, Rosie said regularly feeding the twins was not without its challenges early on. “Little Mister had some latch issues and was slow to gain weight, so we were also pumping and bottle feeding him.  We also needed some support to work out the logistics of tandem feeding, but again the ladies down at the lactation clinic were there every step of the way offering advice, checking in on me and offering the free loan of a rather expensive pump!”

Rosie wants mothers to know lactation support services at Te Puawai Ora are funded to be completely free for families for however long they need the support – far longer than the six weeks care which is a set period in some other parts of the country.  While Rosie felt like she “hit rock bottom” with difficulty getting Hughie to latch, fortunately the Northland service was there to support her and the twins.

“Upon our move back north to Whangarei we were delighted to find there was a free lactation drop in clinic available - one which had no restrictions placed on when you were allowed to access this support. This was so important as random issues and new challenges can arise at any time during your breastfeeding journey.”

Rosie stressed her thanks for supportive coffee groups, La Leche League and her “amazing” husband Ben “who has been there every step of the way.”

“Ben even had the brilliant idea of keeping a fully stocked chilly bin within easy reach to help me survive getting trapped under two clustered feeding/sleeping babies!” Rosie said.

Rosie is pleased to report her twins have been breastfeeding for 16 months and aims to continue feeding until the age of two, as that is the age recommended by the World Health Organization (which says infants should exclusively breastfeed for six months, after which they should receive both breastmilk and complementary food until the age of two years).

Breast is best for building babies’ immunity

Breastfeeding is possibly the number one preventative intervention to improve infant health and reduce paediatric hospital admissions. Northland DHB is ranked first in the country with 94.7 percent of our women breastfeeding their baby on discharge from hospital, as reported in the New Zealand Baby Friendly Aotearoa 2016 data.

As with the rest of New Zealand, the rates of exclusive breastfeeding after discharge from the hospital facility show rapid decline. However at 77 percent, Northland DHB still leads New Zealand at the six-week mark.

Whangarei continues to support and promote teen breastfeeding. One avenue is the parenting support group known as Yummy Mummy, held every Tuesday at The Pulse in Whangarei and aimed at young mums between the ages of 13 and 24. It is supported by Northland DHB, Plunket and Te Ora Hou Aotearoa.

In 2016, Northland DHB also started supporting Te Mata O Mua, which in Northland delivers free antenatal classes run in conjunction with Māori health providers.

Breastfeeding mum Rosie Ponifasio-Hughes with twins Lani (L) and Ash (R).

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