Monday, July 29, 2013

Three's a crowd...tandem nursing

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about breastfeeding multiple children. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 22nd through August 4th!

Monday, July 29th - Breastfeeding multiples: twins (or more!), tandem nursing singletons, even nursing more than one child through your breastfeeding years. Tell us about your experience.

My experience: 
In October 2010, my first daughter was born. After working through pretty normal challenges getting started, we had a pretty easy breastfeeding relationship and she was a very enthusiastic nurser. When I got pregnant again in May 2012, she was still nursing a couple of times a day (naptime, bedtime, at night, and occasionally first thing in the morning). First trimester brought tender breasts and I would cringe a bit when she latched on, so I had to try to minimize her distractions so she wouldn't pop off and on over and over again. My supply dramatically dropped during late second trimester, so I thought that she might self-wean during this period. My enthusiastic nurser, though, had no plans of stopping. She nursed through her second birthday and through the rest of my pregnancy (I was actually grateful to have her nurse in early labor in when I was trying to get contractions to pick up...10 days after my due date). 

When baby #2 was born in January 2013, I attempted to tandem nurse both girls at the same time. For me, it felt too much like three (two girls plus me) was a crowd! Since #1 was used to nursing to sleep, there wasn't a good way for me to nurse both girls laying down (and believe me, I tried a few crazy arrangements). Instead of the enjoyable bonding time, it was torture trying to get both girls quiet and asleep in that funky position. I decided that wasn't going to work out, and started making some changes, first by putting the baby to sleep in the swing and having one on one time with #1 at naptime and bedtime. Another major change: my older daughter went from nursing-to-sleep to a short nursing session before bed. At this time she also changed from sleeping in our bed to sleeping in her own bed (a twin mattress on the floor- big enough for one of us to be by her when she's having a hard time and close enough to the ground that she doesn't get hurt when she rolls out fairly often). With these two changes came a major growth moment- #1 going to sleep with dad when mom wasn't home! Now that nursing wasn't entirely connected with sleep, she cut back and back on how often she would nurse- occasionally before bed or in the middle of the night if she wakes up from a bad dream or is having a hard time. If I wasn't nursing a baby, my milk supply would probably be gone. (Weaning a toddler when you have a baby is a different experience).

I could go on for a long time as to why our experience turned out the way it did. I tried to do what was best for my kids- offering the nutrition and emotional support of nursing for as long as it was appropriate for both of us, while balancing the needs of our new baby, a tired new mom, and a growing big sister. For many, my situation would not be their choice and I hesitate putting it out there because I'm sure there are those who will judge my actions. However, looking back, I'm okay with how it's gone- I felt like the transition has been loving and gradual to try to reduce the feeling of being displaced and instead celebrate growing up.

I don't write my story to tell anyone what they should do- there's no easy answer as every family has its own unique circumstances. I write it only to offer one mom's experience. What I really want is to write what I wish someone would have said to me- 

You are doing a great job. You are a good mom.

If you're struggling....Identify how you feel about nursing (positives and negatives) and come up with a plan that works for everyone.

On-demand feeding is important for building a good milk supply and for the growth of an infant who is fully breastfed. It's okay to let other things in your life slide so you can focus on caring for your baby!

Especially for toddlers/older babies: It's okay to set boundaries with breastfeeding. You don't have to be a 24 hour restaurant...unless you want to be, and then that's okay, too!  

Every nursing relationship includes two people: mom and baby. Adding another person (new baby) adds one more dimension. It's your job to consider everyone's needs and make gentle decisions that are best for everyone (and don't forget yourself).

Most of all, once you've decided what you want, find supportive people and go for it. 

You can do it.

This time will pass quickly and our little ones will be big and we'll remember these days fondly.

And to those of you moms who are tandem nursing: Rock On, Mama! You have my admiration. Way to go!!

To all of you moms: you're amazing. Keep up the good work! Hang in there!

1 comment:

  1. Love your story! Sounds similar to ours - after being in labor for two days and #3 refusing to nurse, he relented on the third night and nursed - hello, stronger contractions! I am with you, never could get comfortable nursing both at the same time - only happens in moments of great desperation when I am short on time or they are both being very demanding. So great to connect with so many tandem mamas - thank you for sharing your story. I don't feel so alone now.