Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nursing Both My Babies

Welcome to the Carnival of Tandem Nursing
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Tandem Nursing hosted by Mommying My Way. Our participants have shared their personal stories of the highs the lows and information on what to expect if tandeming is in your future. Please read to the end of each post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

When I was pregnant with my son, I never considered that I would breastfeed my son longer than a year, much less tandem nurse him and my next baby.

nursing both, my son 3, and my daughter 1
Flash back almost 3 years ago.  I had my son.  I had fought to keep our nursing relationship.  The first three months were the worst.  We had trouble latching on, I saw three lactation consultants.  I pumped a lot and suffered through a lot of pain. My breasts didn't actually heal from nipple cracks until he was 2 months old.  And I didn't actually like nursing him until he was 3 months old.  My friend actually told me she heard from a friend 'the first month is hard, the second month is better and the third month you don't even remember why it was so hard.'  That was the truth for me.  Then the 4th month we battled thrush.  I found out thrush could be cured by switching to a paleo diet and so the rest was history.  From then on I had this incredible nursing relationship.  I loved nursing.

From when my son was born on, my husband and I started reading up on natural parenting and how 'nursing at least till one' was recommended by the AAP.  Then we found out nursing until 2 and beyond was recommended by WHO.  I met a bunch of other natural mothers who were breastfeeding past one so I didn't even consider weaning, especially when I found out just how good it was.

Then I got pregnant with my daughter when my son was 15 months.  Since, by then, I had become quite the pro-breastfeeding mom, I figured I would just tandem nurse.  I actually worried and was saddened by the fact that my son might wean during pregnancy.  He didn't seem ready at all and I would have felt horrible if he did.  Nursing was everything to him.  I told people I was just going to 'just see what happened because sometimes kids just wean when there's no milk'.  But it was a cover up for the fact that I actually wanted to tandem nurse.

Nursing while pregnant was ok.  It wasn't as good as it was before.  But it wasn't as painful and terrible as I had heard about from some people.   At the end of pregnancy if my son would nurse too long, I hated it.  He actually cut down his nursings a lot, nursing to go to sleep, when he woke up, and once during the night.

My son was excited because I told him when his sister came, there would be milk again.  He actually told some people about this, too. (Including one of my husband's co-workers, thank goodness he didn't understand what he said)

Then my daughter was born.  I was nervous about tandem nursing but excited.  There have been a lot of ups and downs.  It was awesome at first.  It really helped me stay connected with  my son even though I was busy with a newborn baby.   He still felt that connection and things didn't change his world too much.  I am so grateful for that.  I'm going to share with you the ups and downs and tips for the transition.

Always Nursing
I was always nursing at first.  My son was so excited that there was baby milk in my breast now.  He wanted to nurse all.the.time.  On top of that I had a newborn nursing.
what I did
It took about 6 months for me to finally decide to do something about it.  My husband said, 'it's been 6 months, Luke (my son) is adjusted to his new sister, you can cut back'.  It had gone by so fast I didn't even think about it.  Slowly I started cutting back and offering more food.  Now my daughter is almost a year and my son nurses before and after waking and sometimes during the night.  That is ok for now, but at some point I might cut back a little more.  But for now it is good enough because my daughter doesn't nurse as often as she used to.   So I get a little break.

Nursing both at the same time
I did the nursing-both-at-the-same-time thing and liked it at first but then really started to hate it.  I got that strong aversion to nursing. It happened after a few months. 
what I did
I just stopped nursing both at the same time.  My son was two and he understood when I said 'Taryn is a baby and she can go first.I started saying that one weekend when my husband was home so that he could help my son when he was upset that he couldn't nurse.  After the weekend of saying that he got over it.  He wasn't even that upset.

Aversion to nursing the older one
When I read about this before I started tandem nursing I thought, I'll never have that, I love nursing my son.  But sure enough, I started dreading nursing him.  I don't know if it was the teeth or how my body just wanted to nurse the newborn, but it was s uncomfortable.
what I did
I just cut back to what I felt comfortable with.   It did take some time to ease into what would work for everyone.  I listened to my son's nursing needs as well as my own needs for some space.  Some days are worse than others, but I think I've mostly gotten to a place where it's still ok for me. 

Great Transition
We had such a wonderful transition adding another baby to our family.  After all the negatives I mentioned, tandem nursing was so worth it.  I know that my son and daughter will always have that connection of them nursing together as babies.  They absolutely love each other.  I always hear those stories of older siblings asking their parents to take back the baby.  That has never happened here.  My daughter was lovingly accepted by my son from the first day.

I don't know if it's something I would do again, but in our family situation it was right.  And I sure do love my nursings and how it has worked out.

  • My Tandem Nursing Journey: Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy is sharing her tandem nursing journey so far...
  • Built for Two: No matter how much you read and plan, things may not always go as you expect. A few things that Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy wished she knew when she was planning to tandem feed her toddler and newborn.
  • Tandem Nursing - Magic Cure?: Jorje of Momma Jorje had high expectations of tandem nursing easing her toddler daughter's transition from being the baby to being a big sister.
  • Mutually Desirable - Navigating a Tandem Nursing Experience: Amy Willa at www.amywilla.com talks about limit setting and meditations that help her navigate an intense tandem nursing experience.
  • My Adventure in Tandem Nursing: Alicia at Lactation Narration tells her story of nursing her daughter through pregnancy and then tandem nursing.
  • 4 months in: the good/hard: Becca at Exile Fertility writes about the joys and struggles of having two nurslings 17 months apart.
  • Tandem Nursing: One at a Time: When tandem nursing resulted in a nursing aversion, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children looked for ways to meet everyone's needs.
  • Why Nurse a 4 Year Old?: One of the questions Dionna at Code Name: Mama keeps getting is, "but why breastfeed a four year old? What are the benefits?" Today she answers that question.
  • My Hurt Feelings: Shannon at The Artful Mama shares how her first son reacted to nursing after the birth of his brother and the gift she received the last time he nursed.
  • Carnival of Tandem Nursing: A Letter To Myself 7 Years Ago: Dulce de leche shares the advice and reassurance that she would have given to herself if she could go back in time.
  • Nursing Both My Babies: Cassie at There’s a Pickle in my Life shares her experience with nursing and transitioning into tandem nursing. She also gives tips for struggles.
  • Our Tandem Nursing Journey: Kim at Life-is-Learning describes her journey into tandem nursing and why it is important to her.
  • Based on her own experience, Lauren at Hobo Mama dishes about the benefits and downsides to nursing multiple children.


Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

Such logical, gentle ways to handle all of those feelings and transitions. These are great tips (even if you didn't mean them as such)!

I'm a full-time mummy said...

Wow! Salute your perseverance!

I think I'm one of the lucky mums around, no problems latching on the first time I breastfeed, no cracked nipples, no thrush etc etc... I nurse on, and on, and on... throughout pregnancy even when my breastmilk stopped at 5th month into my pregnancy, my boy just nursed on and then tandem nursing comes!

I thought I was prepared with all the books recommended (for tandem nursing) but boy oh boy... the nursing aversion... I cannot believe I actually hated my boy for still wants to nurse on at 3 years old!

Thank God with the support from my family and bloggy friends, I got over my aversions in a month and it has been a great journey for me so far... 9 months now! :)

becca said...

I'm in the "always nursing" stage with my 22month old who has an almost 5 month old sister. He nurses more frequently than she does. I'm planning to start cutting back when he is 2 I think ... Thanks for the advice. It's hard though but I would like us to be at morning nap and bedtime and then some exceptions in the day. Oh and night weaning would be nice. :)

life-is-learning said...

It is nice to read posts that I can relate to so much. I felt horrible about the nursing aversion with my older nursling, but understanding that it's normal and that a lot of other women experience helps me. i, like you, was so glad the lack of milk during pregnancy didnt cause my older one to wean :)

Hannah Newman Evans said...

Thank you for sharing- funding other tandem mums is hard. I definitely felt the same way about nursing my son. I'm currently nursing a 2.5 year old and a 8 month old and have hit the nursing aversion wall big time due to thrush (Google sent me your way) will try paleo diet to see if it helps