Monday, January 25, 2010

Tandem nursing; my experience

Breastfeeding is still considered taboo most places you go. Just walk up to people and ask what they think about breastfeeding and you'll get a range of answers, from supportive to disgusted. So imagine what response is triggered in people when they see, or hear about, you nursing your toddler along with your new baby, at the same time! The shock, the horror! Who would do such a thing! Okay, okay being just a little melodramatic here. But in truth this is the response I got from all around me.

My daughter was just over a year old when we found out the good news, I was pregnant and the first trimester was already over! I so missed the cues on that one! I really had no idea I was pregnant. Truthfully I blamed all the little discomforts I did get on the flu, who would have thought. It was my husband who made the connection and encouraged me to take a pregnancy test.

Because the first trimester had already passed, the "danger" of miscarriage wasn't relevant anymore. So when I was advised by my health care provider to stop breastfeeding I found it absolutely ridiculous. He even told me that there would not be any milk production for my daughter, so I have to ween her before the pregnancy advances any further. That's a PHD for you. And I'm suppose to take advice from you to keep myself healthy? Needless to say he is no longer my doctor.

It is possible to continue to produce milk for your first child while pregnant with your second (or which ever order you are in). And it is physically possible to breastfeed your newborn and toddler at the same time. The trick is to the feeding part. The latching on and handling of the the older child, it takes some practice and patience.

Don't get the wrong idea here. By the time my son was born my daughter was 2 months shy of her second birthday. And so she was nursing only at specific times a day. In the morning, before nap time, afternoon snack and before bedtime. These would be the shared nursing: tandem nursing.

I enjoyed nursing them together. She would always play with his hands or caress him on his head. This was their time, special bonding. I avoided jealousy by telling my daughter that the baby was her baby, her brother, and that she should be glad to help the baby learn how to nurse (aka: drink titi). 

She was , and still is, a little mommy. Her "job" was to get the pamper and wipes at changing time, then to throw away the soiled one. When my son was old enough they would share bath time, yet another bonding opportunity.

When my son was about 6 months old I started to dread the tandem nursing, I was getting "tired" of my daughter. This is normal, and some moms do feel "tired" after a certain point. This doesn't mean that I was not loving her anymore, was just tired. So after discussing my feelings with my husband we decided to slowly ween her. And this was the breaking point for us.

It was gentile suggestion for months. But she was already starting to self ween at this point. She was coming on to her third birthday. After the successful weening of my daughter my son soon after weened himself from the breast. I did not give it a second thought. I did not think that my daughter weening from the breast would impact my son so profoundly that he would ween soon after. He weened just after his first birthday.

At the time I was feeling tired and did not look for the support and encouragement needed for me to push through and continue nursing. Now with my second son at five months old I look back and realize the impact tandem nursing has on siblings. It helps them create a deep and profound bond. And it is possible that if one weens the other will soon ween short after. I guess he missed his sister and felt he didn't need more from me.

So if your pregnant and still nursing your toddler and are healthy, go ahead and continue to nurse to your hearts content.

It takes just a little bit of you to make a big impact on your children.

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