A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Attachment Parenting with Triplets by Davina Wright

Davina breastfeeding her triplets.

5.00am – Everyone wakes up
5.30am – Pump for 10 minutes, get 300-400ml (10-12oz)
6.00am – Tandem feed girls, 2 babies breastfed
8-9.00am – Feed everyone to sleep for nap, 3 babies breastfed
11.30am – Snack feed for everyone, 3 babies breastfed
1.00pm – Feed everyone to sleep for nap, 3 babies breastfed
5-6.00pm – Feed everyone to sleep for the night, 3 babies breastfed
6-9pm – At least one settling feed each, 3 babies breastfed
9pm-5am – Feed Connor at least 2-3 times, 3 babies breastfed

Triplet bed sharing

I am 42 years old, I live in New Zealand with my husband Jason, my older daughters Tayla (20) and Dyani (19), and my 1 year old triplets Willow, Connor and Summer, and this is a typical breastfeeding day for me…20 feeds and a pump. (Times are VERY approximate) And before you say OMG remember they are now 1 year old, when they were newborns and having growth spurts I could do 36-40 feeds a day! That has even me saying OMG!

Davina's 5 children

I was parenting in a gentle manner 21 years ago when I had my first daughter, before I even knew that’s what it was called. To me it was instinctual. My mother’s advice was ‘don’t pick her up when she cries’, and ‘leave her when she’s happy’, and ‘don’t distract her when she’s quiet’…I wondered just when I was allowed to hold and interact with my baby!! Luckily I didn’t listen to her advice, it just didn’t feel right. And I wanted to be with her, and hold her, and talk to her, and feed her, and cuddle her all the time. My dad would say I was going to kiss her face right off I was so besotted with her! I wore her before it was called baby wearing, I co-slept when it wasn’t fashionable to do so, I breastfed with total maternal instinct as I had no role models or real support of any kind, I home-birthed my second daughter when it was unheard of in my small town.

Davina's triplet charm

When I was 29, my partner and I decided we didn’t want any more children, he had two from a previous relationship, and we had the girls, and so we were done, and I had a tubal ligation. Then when I was 35, and our girls were 12 and 13, he died, suddenly and tragically. Finding yourself a widow at just 35 with two young kids is a very traumatic event, but that is a WHOLE other story. Suffice it to say that I knew, even in the depths of my grief, that I was not going to spend the rest of my life alone. So I spent a year intensely grieving…crying oceans, trying to still parent my girls, not eating…then at the one year anniversary I visited the place where I first saw him, then the place where I last saw him, then I came home and turned a page in my life. A few months later I met Jason, who told me on our first date that he hadn’t ever had children and still wanted to. I’d always loved being a mama, it was the role I was born to fill, so I figured I would be up for it as long as it happened before I turned 40!

IVF

Due to the global recession we were unable to afford the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) necessary because I had had my tubes tied so baby making was put on the back burner. Then 3 months after I turned 40, Jason’s business was doing well again and he said he would like to try for that baby now! We went through two rounds of IVF, the first one ended in miscarriage of the two embryos we put back in, but the second one more than made up for it, with the next two embryos creating THREE little lives!

triplet bath time

I was terrified when we found out it was triplets. All my ideas of another lovely homebirth, wearing my baby, sleeping with my baby, breastfeeding for years, all went out the window as I struggled to come to terms with how I would parent three babies at once. I did a lot of research (i.e. talked to heaps of other triplet mamas) about parenting styles, advice, tips and general sanity saving information. A great deal of it was the same, ‘teach them to “self soothe” from a young age’, ‘get into a strict routine’, ‘learn how to prop bottles for quicker feeds’, ‘when one baby wakes, wake the other two to keep them all on the same schedule’. None of this appealed to me. At the time, I still hadn’t heard of Attachment Parenting, but I felt the ‘harshness’ of the way most multiples were being raised just wasn’t for me. It was the start of choosing a path that has seen us somewhat detached from multiple society for doing things so differently.

triplet breastfeeding

I decided I was most definitely going to breastfeed. Even if nothing else fell into place I was damn sure I could at least feed them. I had always had plenty of milk, and in my research I read about wet nurses in Victorian times who would feed up to six babies, so I was sure I could do three. I started searching for other women who had breastfed triplets. I couldn’t find anyone in my country who had fed past about 6 weeks, but managed to find some blogs from women internationally who had fed into toddlerhood. Not many, but some. And I didn’t care how many had done it, just that it could be done. I had very little support in this, I don’t think anyone seriously thought I was going to do it. I got a lot of polite smiles and condescending looks, but I knew I was going to make it work.

triplet breastfeeding

I also knew that breastfeeding would mean supply and demand, no schedule or strict routine, and I definitely wasn’t going to be waking anyone up! Even now when all three are sleeping, I am grateful, I don’t go messing with it! I talked to a triplet mama who had breastfed hers for a few weeks and she said the traditional wisdom was to tandem feed two babies and give the third a bottle of formula, then rotate which baby got the formula. She said another option was to feed one baby one side, the next baby the next side and by the time you got to the third baby, the first boob should be almost full again. This sounded perfect to me and I decided this was how I would do it, then there was no need for formula, which I personally wanted to stay as far away from as possible. (Even though in NZ, a formula company gives triplet parents a YEAR’S free supply of formula!)

triplet bed sharing

As far as sleeping went, we bought 3 cots but decided we would figure out sleeping when the babies arrived and we knew a bit more about their personalities and how they liked to sleep. But our nursery was big enough for these three cots and also a queen size bed so that at least one of us was going to be sleeping in there with them all the time.

triplet breastfeeding in public

When it came to getting out of the house it was important to me to be very mobile. I read one woman’s story that she didn’t get past her front door for the first year and I so didn’t want that to be me. I believe that babies as well as mamas go a bit stir crazy if they don’t get out in the fresh air as much as possible. I don’t drive, but I love walking so I needed a good buggy but didn’t want the HUGE triple buggies that are on the market. We decided on a double buggy and wearing one baby in a sling, which later became an Ergo. It also has the added bonus of keeping us a bit more incognito, as most people miss the baby in the Ergo and think I ‘just’ have twins, which isn’t worth stopping me for!

newborn triplets

So we were as prepared as we could be for the arrival of our troublets. We had our anniversary on the 11.11.11, and 11 days later I went into labour at 34 weeks and at 2.22am gave birth via c-section to Willow Harper, Connor Kingston, and Summer Lily, weighing 4lb 7oz, 5lb 8oz, and 4lb 8oz. The beginning of our journey together wasn’t as attached as I wanted, there was no skin to skin for a while, I got my first cuddle with Connor the next day, Summer the day after that, and Willow the day after that. It seemed so wrong that I was unable to hold them and feed them from the very beginning but we knew that they would come early and that we would have a challenge with early birth bonding. We spent all day for 10 days standing next to their

triplet in NICU

incubators, touching them, changing them and talking to them. Then we moved into a lower care level of NICU where they were in open cots and we were in charge of their daily care a lot more. They still had nasogastric tubes in for feeding but before every feed I would offer the breast, trying desperately to get my huge nipple into their tiny little mouths! Eight days of that and they were all feeding well so their tubes came out and we went into the ‘parent room’, which is like a hotel room that you can’t leave. We had to get them all feeding, without any help from the nurses, and have them all gain weight before we could leave. On the first morning both the girls had lost only an ounce and Connor had remained stable, and on the second morning everyone gained an ounce! This was good enough to get us sent home, so after just 3 weeks in NICU we were sent off to do it on our own.

happy triplet faces

Our first plan was for both of us to get up to each baby, each time they cried, and I would feed and Jason would burp and change. This lasted two nights before we realised this meant NO sleep for anyone! Our next plan was to do shifts. I would pump milk for Jason to feed all three during the 9pm-2am shift and I would feed all three during the 2am-7am shift. After a week I was getting a nice 5 hour sleep, but Jas had struck the ‘screaming shift’ and was having a hard time dealing with all three by himself. On to plan C. I would co-sleep with Connor, who had shown himself to be a rather loud disturbance to both the girls, and feed him all night. I would pump after every feed. Between 9pm and 6am Jas would be responsible for feeding the girls with the milk I had pumped the night before. This plan has worked so well it is still in place. And the girls have gone from 4 feeds each a night down to 1-2 feeds, sometimes no feeds a night, whereas my little co-sleeper is still waking every couple of hours!

triplets swinging

I was still constantly searching the internet for breastfeeding support and it was when the babies were probably 2-3 months old that I came across The Badass Breastfeeder’s page. I loved it immediately for embracing breastfeeding so profoundly. It also seemed a perfect forum for me as getting out and meeting other mamas was a total mission, but being able to connect on the internet and leave my computer when I was ‘called for’ was just what I needed. As I read more in the ‘about’ section I had my first encounter with the words ‘attachment parenting’, and I realised that this had always been my parenting style and I was doubly grateful to have found this page! I gained so much support from the women here, and lots of praise for what I was doing, which had been sort of lacking in the ‘real world’. Attachment parenting with triplets is quite difficult and I felt bad about what I wasn’t able to do, but these women helped me to focus on what I CAN do, and AM doing, and how amazing it is. I still faced a lot of skeptics and people who seemed to just be waiting for me to fail, so it was truly wonderful for me to have found this group of women who lift me up and heal my soul after a hard day or night.

triplets and parents

We don’t do CIO, but there is still a lot of crying in our house! Sometimes when they all kick off it’s like triage, trying to figure out who needs what and who can be dealt with quickest so we can get to the next one without leaving them too long. Trying to understand the communication of three little ones can be overwhelming at times, but leaving them to cry is just not an option for me, every maternal fibre of my being tells me to go to that baby so that’s what I do. Yes, it’s exhausting but it’s not about me, it’s about the best possible parenting I can give these babies. And as many a wise badass has commented, ‘this too shall pass’!!

bouncy triplets

We are now one year down the track… our 3 little monkeys are now toddlers, not babies! The first year has passed in a bit of blur but we’ve been very lucky that all three are healthy, I’ve had no issues with breastfeeding and both Jason and I are still upright so we must be getting SOME sleep! I have grown more than I would’ve believed possible in raising these babies, and I believe that had I not had the life experiences that I have with losing my first husband, being a sole parent to two children, going through the emotionally challenging process of IVF, having a miscarriage, as well as numerous other life lessons then I would probably not be dealing with today’s challenges with nearly as much strength. I remember a friend saying to me soon after Brian had died that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you

siblings share a swing

stronger’, and I said ‘I don’t want to know what the universe has in store for me that I am going to need this much strength for!’ But now I know! Attachment parenting demands a lot of you, being responsive to not one but three babies’ needs is utterly exhausting. It’s not like having three children of different ages as all their needs are the same, and they want what they need all at the same time! But it is still worth it I think. This is my job, this is what I am committed to doing. And I owe it to my children to do my job to the very best of my ability. I owe it to them to not chuck in the towel on all things AP because it’s a bit hard, or we’d like some more sleep, or it doesn’t immediately reap benefits. One of the reasons I don’t get as much support as I would like from the multiple community is because if I

happy triplet faces

complain about lack of sleep they will say “Well you’ve done great to get this far but it’s time to switch to formula now and let someone else take over so you can get some sleep!” One of the things I love about the Badass is that I can complain about being the walking dead and NO-ONE says I should switch to formula! I’m not as crunchy as I would like to be but I can’t do anything about that, I have three little people to be responsive to and so some other things just can’t be done…like making my own organic baby food, or cloth diapering, or more substantial baby wearing.

triplet picnic

Oh and the results of AP? Tayla is nearly 21 and is just 2 weeks away from gaining her degree in Performing Arts majoring in acting, she is also a singer and a dancer, Dyani is 19 and just finishing her first year of a Bachelor of Science degree, double majoring in psychology and physiology. They are unbelievable people, they are intelligent, insightful, kind, generous, independent, mature, loving, creative, and beautiful inside and out. They have heaps of friends who love them dearly, Dyani has been with her girlfriend for over a year and Tayla has just finished her first
relationship. Both have great life skills and a self belief that have enabled them to navigate their life journey so far with amazing maturity and grace. Of course I love them, I’m their mama, but I also REALLY REALLY like them as people…and I think that is the best thing you could ever say about your children. Being responsive to your childrens’ needs never ends but they have taught me that babyhood/childhood is gone in an eyeblink and my need for more sleep will just have to wait….. but not as long as I may think.

Davina Wright

*Davina was featured in The New Zealand La Leche League national newsletter ‘Aroha.’ “Three Babies, Two Breasts” tells her story of breastfeeding triplets. She is now offering her support to other breastfeeding mothers of multiples.

La Leche League newsletter
**If you are a mother of triplets or are expecting triplets and are breastfeeding, have breastfed in the past or plan to breastfeed you can request to join Davina’s private support group on Facebook. Your request can be made by sending her a PM to her personal Facebook account.

Comments

  1. The Wonders of Real Motherhood… So beautiful and inspiring

  2. WOW!!! You are AMAZING and an inspiration to all mothers!! I love your commitment and “I can do this!” attitude. I don’t approve of mommy shaming, but seriously, there should be a copy of this blog and your picture in every maternity unit in every hospital. “Hmmmm…. so you can’t breastfeed because your baby was born premature? You had a C-section? It’s just too hard to breastfeed your baby (singular)? You aren’t sleeping enough?” Well….. take a look at THIS woman! She is proof that where there’s a will there is a way!
    -And I love how you ignored the naysayers, and went with your instincts for what was best for your baby. Mama knows what works best for HER and her BABY.

  3. I love this! <3

  4. This is such an inspiration, way to go Momma *thumbs up*

  5. I’m in awe of you. truly inspiring! Keep up the good work! I nursed my little guy until just after he was three. He decided he didn’t need nanas anymore and I have so many people who have questioned me on so many things but esp cry it out and circumcision. I have held my ground and will continue to AP because it is instinctual and feels right. it should feel right!
    Thank you!

  6. all those lovely words you use to describe your older daughters – I just bet those same words describe you! you are an awesome woman with a lovely family = hoorah for your Jason as well because a strong dad makes the family whole

  7. Davina- you have been such a source of inspiration for me since I found my way to the Badass page. This is a wonderful post and I thank you for sharing your experience. Congratulations to you for following your heart!

  8. Holy hell…amazing story you sound so upbeat and positive. If we had triplets I think I would bury my head and feign ignorance!

    Much admiration

  9. Wow! You are such an inspiration to all breastfeeders, and mothers in general. Your story gives a whole new perspective on the challenges of attachment parenting. And to thinks my hubby and I feel exhausted APing one energetic two-year-old and preparing for a second one in late July…
    Tammy from Israel 🙂

  10. I so needed this today. I am committed to child led weaning, but my 21/2 year old boy feeds like a newborn on most days. This is the reset I needed. Thank you for your incredible service to mothers everywhere!

  11. Davina: you have also served as inspirational to me since the start of the Badass Tribe group started. I think there were 5 of us totally addicted to posting there for a while. I loved, loved, loved reading your story!!

  12. This is an amazing story. Davina you are such an inspiration. You go girl!

  13. You are my hero!!

  14. I am weeping with JOY for what you do. So awesome.

  15. You are truely amazing!

  16. Your such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing. I have 3.5 month old twin girls and AP style of parenting was my only choice it is what came natural with my 5 and 2 year old boys. I can totally relate to how you felt. You are wonder woman and amazing for what you are doing! Hugs to you!

  17. Wow!! You truly are inspirational! I have a hard enough time doing it with one, let alone three! I’m proud you stuck with it and laughed when I read about your frustration with people telling you “You’ve done well enough, time to let them CIO/have formula/etc”. I feel the same way; I just want to vent to someone about my lack of sleep, not change my parenting style! Thank you for sharing your story and pictures and keep up the great work, Super Mama!!

  18. Misty Kay says:

    This is so great and inspirational for other Mamas of multiples!! I love her and the Badass!!

  19. Emily Rooker says:

    WOW. All I can say is you rock! Definitely wonder woman. =)

  20. Mildrik says:

    You are absolutely amazing! Your children are very licky to have such a dedicated, pasionate mom. (My 9 month old is my first and named Tayla also 🙂

  21. what a beautiful Mum. Loved reading this x

  22. What is “chunky” raising? Never heard the term before.

  23. You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story.

  24. Wow!!! What an amazing story!! I’m inspired & strengthened to continue AP in the way that has been working for me w/ my son (now 22mo). I wish all new Mama’s could hear about you breastfeeding triplets & learn that they can bf a single baby. Thank you for sharing!!

  25. I couldn’t imagine! Whew! I was worn out from school, work, a toddler, and an infant let alone three infants!! YOU GO MOMMA! I really wish people didn’t thrust their opinions of parenting on other mothers. Your choice is just that- YOURS. I was able to breast feed my son until he was about a year (he weaned himself) and we co-slept and I still cuddle that little man like no other. My daughter and I still take time out for the two of us and I love her dearly. I couldn’t imagine baby wearing (I’m too weak lol), or cloth diapering (My stomach is too weak), or being a stay at home mom (I’m not patient enough for it), but my decisions on parenting are not the only way to parent. I commend you for sticking to your guns and fighting through the stress and fatigue of your new bundles!

  26. Jennifer says:

    Your story is very encouraging. I’m a mom of twins (5 months old) and my eldest son is 22 months. We are very AP, Breastfeeding, babywearing, clothdiapering, gentle parenting. I wouldn’t have it any other way, no matter how sleepless I am. My husband can’t do much of the night time parenting since his job is so demanding but he is so helpful in the evenings. When people told me I couldn’t do it I would just keep thinking “I’ve got this, I have to, my babies deserve the best” it wasn’t their fault there was two of them, they deserve the best I can give them. You sound like you are doing your best which is amazing. Much love from another multiple momma

  27. Could you please tell me where you got that swing in the picture above that the triplets are in?

  28. I’d like every person whose child is on formula (other than those mommies with medical issues) to read this, then explain why breastfeeding “doesn’t fit into their lifestyle”.

    • I can totally relate to your comment here: I exclusively breastfed my twins from eight weeks onwards, and I’m still nursing them at the 13 month mark, with no rush towards weaning. However, I hope you’re not offended by me gently pointing out that this kind of attitude is what causes some people to be extremely ‘anti’ AP people and principles – it comes across as really intolerant of people who choose to raise their kids in a different way. I have definitely been quite scathing of some AP parents during the past year, primarily because I encountered a lot of AP people who were very critical of anybody who chose (for whatever reason) to formula feed. It really isn’t anybody’s business but those parents how they choose to feed, and when you’re talking about parents of multiples I think that this is even more important! If you haven’t dealt with multiples yourself, you really can’t imagine how intense it is. I’ve managed to feed my two, but I don’t have other young children to cater to as well, for example, and I haven’t had to go back to work straight away. The most pertinent comments that Davina made in this blog were the ones about feeling excluded from the multiples community because she didn’t want to use CIO techniques, formula, etc. I certainly intend to ensure that I make a big effort to not assume that all twin and triplet mums should/will want to do things any particular way. Davina sets a great example of how AP principles can apply to multiples, but tolerance must go both ways.

  29. What a wonderful thing to read first thing in the morning! It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you ignore the negative and follow your heart. You have such a beautiful family and are an amazing momma!

    P.S. You make me want multiples
    P.P.S. And I love the names you blessed your children with

  30. So inspirational–thank you so much for sharing. I know I will remember this story and great positive attitude for a long time.

  31. You rock my world mama!

  32. I’m impressed! That’s all I can say. Congratulations. I’m sharing your article in my FB fan page.

  33. I love this blog post so much, Davina! It’s made me totally rethink the way that I relate to other mothers of multiples and the choices that they make, and to AP parents. It’s been truly inspirational. Thank you for writing it!

  34. Lisa Broderick Cohen says:

    You rock!!!!!! Follow me? Twitter = theBFLady same with instagram

  35. I am so glad to know that across the world there is another mama just like me! My triplet babies are 5 1/2 months old and we have been doing attachment parenting and breast-feeding on-demand pretty much since they were born at 36 weeks. It’s really frustrating that there is so little information out there for people like us so it really is a solo journey! Wehad some problems with nipple preference when we would give one a bottle of pumped breastmilk and so now they’re basically just mostly breast-fed. Except for one who is the only one who can really go back-and-forth between the two. Our babies all asleep next to us in a crib with one wall broken down with our bed is on the floor.we wear them as much as possible. We go for walks every single day. There is, as you said, crying in our house even though we do not do crying it out. But we respond to their needs as quickly and as attentively and lovingly as we can. It is true I have lots and lots of support and this would be very difficult to do without that. But I believe it is so worth it for their lives and future selves as well as for who we are as parents. I would not do it any other way.

  36. I really loved hearing this. I’m an AP parent of 4 month old twins and a 2.5 year old. There are days when it’s damn hard to be this kind of parent, but I wouldn’t change for anything. It’s so wonderful to hear a story like this, especially the breastfeeding! Everyone laughed when I said I would try to exclusively breastfeed my twins without any pumping like I did with my older son, but so far I’m doing it and they are happy and healthy and chubby. 🙂

  37. Beautiful

  38. Wow, you are a truly amazing woman & momma! And the nerve of some people to tell you to give up when things get rough instead of to push through it for the greater good for your babies! Congrats on the great work done!

  39. There is much research on the topic of attachment parenting. Ranging from the subject of breastfeeding to natural term, to baby wearing, to co-sleeping. The general result of studies on those topics is overwhelmingly positive. This shows what any parent or caregiver practicing attachment parenting is striving for. More often than not it seems as though when children are raised in this manner, they tend to grow to be confident, independent, empathetic men and women. With many supporters of attachment parenting including Dr. Sears, and countless celebrities the public’s support and awareness of attachment parenting is growing. It is likely the movement towards this more gentle parenting approach will only gain momentum as more studies are done and the knowledge is more widely available and accepted.

  40. I would love to gorge myself with the sweet sustenance those massive mammaries provide, pushing that liquid into my throat and coating my lips and stomach with your breast milk bounty. Then I would probably penetrate your vagina with my penis and milk you some more lol.

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