Tandem Breastfeeding a Newborn & Toddler

As Babe, my daughter of two years and nine months enjoys breastfeeding so much, we as a family have chosen to let her decide the time in which she wants to wean from mummy milk. When I became pregnant with Boyo, my thoughts did not waver. In fact the more I learned about tandem nursing and the benefits, the more I wanted to be one of the lucky ones to give it a go.

So here we are, Boyo is six days old and I’m successfully tandem nursing them both. You might wonder how this works, from a supply, milk quality, logistics and relationship perspective.

Supply
The mama cow and her feeding equipment is amazingly adept at catering to the milk supply needs of both. Even as Babe has upped her intake for reassurance and desire for a joint snack experience, my body has been highly efficient in increasing the milk to serve both her and newborn Boyo. I’m definitely sporting a more top heavy look, which I’m embracing – shame about the post baby floppy belly though.

Milk Quality
A mamas body is geared up to provide the right milk for the new baby, so Babe has been enjoying the good stuff innabundance (colostrum). I know it’s pretty good produce because I’ve seen it (a thick rich yellow colour) and because Boyo had a fantastically small weight loss from birth. At his three day check, he had only lost 3% of his body weight, compared to the more average 8-10%. At day five he was over his birth weight, which usually doesnt occur till about day 10.

Logistics
Some mamas who tandem nurse won’t breastfeed their children/babies both at the same time. Whereas others have mastered the art of acrobatics in order to make the most of having a pair of boobs. This might be because nursing two at once can help for a quiet life, like me.

Babe doesn’t appreciate that there is a time and place for such antics. In front of dissapproving visitors is not the time to test mamas resolve, because right now she wins. “oh go on then, just a tiny bit”. The visitors are too polite (but most likely too scared) to say anything, but I know are judging me all the time. Am I bothered, clearly yes in some ways and in other ways no.

We’ve already established some favourite positions:

1) sitting on the sofa nursing Boyo in cradle hold, then Babe sits next to me and nurses from the side

2) sitting on a chair nursing Boyo in cradle hold, then Babe stands next to or in front of me drinking from the other side

3) more adventurous, same kind of position as above, but lying down or sitting up in bed

4) most adventurous to date involved lying down with nursing toddler then latching newborn on the other-side using football hold (he curled round my back or lay on a cushion).

Relationship
It’s tough on everyone’s emotions when you already have children and introduce a new baby. I’m conscious of the feelings of insecurity that Babe might be feeling. For me I have a mixed bag of conflicting emotions that combine with my desire to reassure and comfort my toddler, conflicting sometimes with my over powering instincts to protect and always be with my newborn. Then the guilt that comes with occasional resentfulness towards my needy toddler.

Tandem breastfeeding is helping Babe and I with these emotions and ensuring that our bond stays strong. This is the biggest benefit for me right now. Forget my desire to allow her to self wean, I’m just living in the moment.

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Tandem nursing with a toddler and baby here we come

Photo borrowed from TouchstoneZ Parenting blog

Soon I am about to start my new breastfeeding journey of nursing a toddler and a newborn, which I’m sure will be greeted with another bought of skepticism from the righteous. But I’m used to fighting such battles and defending my corner, so it should be a walk in the park. I say this hopefully, knowing what new baby hormones and lack of sleep do to me. Then again, I also know that the net result is usually me becoming more stubborn (determined).

Babe, my toddler of two years and nearly nine months is still happily breastfeeding in the morning and evening. I have no intention to start planning an end date, it’s her call. With baby Boyo due very soon, for sure I will be breastfeeding them both. I’m really excited about this, as it has been shown to really help sibling bonding and minimise the negative feelings the older child may have.

There is part of me that is a little apprehensive, as I hear that sometimes the older child in response to the new baby and lots of milk, is likely to start nursing frequently again. How will we as a family manage this? How will visitors react? Yes, I am thinking, sod others, this is my family. But still I can’t help being a tiny bit bothered in such situations.

If truth be told I sometimes revel in being strong enough to step out of the mould and do what I believe is right regardless of social norms. But there is the other side of me which doesn’t like being scorned on by others. But I guess that’s being a mother, no matter what parenting choices you make.

I ultimately feel so privileged that I am going to have the chance to try out tandem breastfeeding. Some would love to, but for many reasons they are not finally able to. So I’m determined to make the most of it.

If there are any tandem mothers out there willing to share some tips, I’d really love to hear them. Thanks.