Friday 22 June 2012

The highs and Lows of Tandem nursing

I do have a photo of me tandem nursing just prior to discharge from the hospital with my second, but after the reaction I got from my now sister-in-law when she accidentally stumbled across it on my camera makes me think I shouldn't publish it (I am pretty naked). On looking at it again, it could be worse, I am wearing pants (in the american sense of the word), and a ridiculous turban on my head after taking a shower.  Tell you what, I'll post it at the bottom of the article and you can decide whether you want to see it.

I became pregnant with my second (Ellie) in the Summer of 2010 when William was 2 1/2 yrs old.  The first few months of the pregnancy were a little rough because my nipples were very sensitive.  I understand that this is pretty common, and many women stop nursing at this point.  William was a big boobie monster and was still nursing through the night.  We managed to carry on nursing throughout the pregnancy using a couple of techniques.

1.  I shortened feedings by telling William "one more minute" and then counting down from ten.  William was pretty accepting of this, occasionally he would refuse to budge, but it was more of a game for him and he understood when I asked him to be more gentle.

2.  William very kindly decided to start sleeping through the night which was great and allowed me to get some decent sleep.

The Highs (Benefits)

  • Having a toddler and a newborn nursing my milk volume increased pretty quickly after delivery and I had a tonne of milk.
  • William was old enough to know about sharing and because he had decided to nurse on only one side before Ellie was born, he was quite happy to let her have the other breast while he was nursing.
  • It can be hard to entertain a toddler in the early days of having a new little brother or sister, and nursing them both meant that they were both still and content for at least a few minutes during the day.
  • I believe that it really helped with the initial jealousy.  Even now that William has fully weaned, he will happily tell me that "Ellie needs boobie" when she cries.
  • William still got lots of cuddles with Mummy during the first few weeks and months as he grew to understand that Ellie was here to stay.
  • Having a toddler nursing is great for engorgement and plugged ducts.
The Lows

  • It's really hard to tandem nurse in public, especially with a huge three year old.  I never really mastered discrete tandem nursing, but we really only did it at home near bed time for the most part.
  • It is a little weird looking down and seeing this teeny tiny head nursing alongside a huge three year old head.  Not really a low, just a little odd.
  • Because my son only nursed on one side, it was sometimes difficult to time his feeds around Ellies, making sure that she got the majority of the milk and not the leftovers.  But truely, I had so much milk it wasn't really a huge problem.  Actually I had so much milk that we block fed A LOT and actually to this day Ellie has my right breast during the day and my left breast during the night (not recommended, but it worked for us).
  • Breastfeeding two children is pretty physically draining.  You do have to remember to eat and drink and rest (which you should anyway after delivery), sustaining three appetites is hard work.  I was lucky to be staying with my parents who kept me well fed, granola bars and nuts are my favourite nutrient dense foods.
I think overall I enjoyed the time that we all spent together nursing.  I tandem nursed for seven months, and the last time that William nursed was very emotional for me, especially as he is such a Daddy's boy now and doesn't seem to need me as much (I know he does really).  I would never change anything, and he has never asked for boobie since, so I know that it was a pretty mutual decision that we were both ready for.

Please share your tandem nursing experiences, I'm sure tandem nursing is more common than we think, it's just not done in public and maybe not talked about as much as it should be.

Here is the photo -

If you have enjoyed reading this article and you haven't fainted after looking at that picture, then you may enjoy reading similar articles about breastfeeding by the following bloggers.
Baby Beads is a company that sells beautiful necklaces that keep babies hands busy while nursing.  My Ellie is a pincher and pinches constantly while nursing and you know how sharp those little baby nails are!!

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  1. I think it's wonderful. Yes, it is probably impossible to tandem nurse discreetly but then again I'm struggling to nurse my 17-month-old discreetly as he wiggles, crawls on me and pulls my top the whole time.

  2. thanks for the photo, I love it! My breastfeeding goal is to continue breastfeeding while working full time

  3. I won't be tandem nursing as I don't want more children, but my daughter will be self-weaning in her own time.

  4. Great picture, my goal is the same as with my daughter take each day as it comes and to let her stop naturaly :)

  5. Thanks guys! I actually wrote this over a month ago and set it to publish and forgot about it until I received it in my inbox this morning. I'm glad I didn't completely chicken out, but it's not the prettiest icture of nursing.

  6. I plan on bfing til LO is at least 2. I would love to tandem feed if I have another, but having IGT, I doubt I would have enough milk for 2.

  7. Thanks for sharing! I'm so interested to hear others' experiences of tandem nursing because I'm still bfing my 17 month old and I'm 21 weeks pregnant. I'd love to be able to tandem nurse, but in my case with hypoplasia I doubt very much that I'll have enough milk for 2 (I may not even have enough for 1!) so I'm having to help weaning along with my son at the mo. He's only feeding about twice a day these days, morning and bedtime, so it shouldn't be too much of an impact on him, but I think going on as long as possible will help with my milk supply for the newborn.

  8. I intended breast feeding for a few months, but after reading several fantastic blog posts this afternoon/evening for breastfeeding week I'm more inclined to go with the flow and see how things work out for us and just do what feels right at the time

  9. It's a lovely photo, we should be proud to have these records of our lives - ignore the critics!! My goal is to just let my two carry on for as long as they want. Although I do sometimes weary of the older one's requests, I certainly wouldn't want to wean her before she chooses to.

  10. LOL! I love that photo! SO glad you posted it. I chickened out with a video of Pooh Bear nursing since he totally flashed my nipple for about 5 seconds.
    I hope to continue nursing until we're both ready to stop ir at least until Pooh Bear is :)