Archive for the ‘Casey Mix-McNulty’ Category

Tandem Nursing Part I: The Good

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Tandem Nursing Part I: The GoodAnd then there were two.

I honestly had no definite plan when I decided to try nursing through my pregnancy–but I did it and my daughter was here! I had no expectations for how nursing two children would work. I had read books like The Adventures of Tandem Breastfeeding, which talked about moms who preferred nursing both children simultaneously for bonding and to save time, and I had also read from many moms who found it easier to nurse one child at a time. I was open and willing to try anything, and confident that I would figure out what worked for us.

I will never forget the first time nursing both my son and my daughter. Sitting up against the wall in my bed, I positioned my son first and then latched my daughter. It was an odd feeling. On the one hand amazing to look down at both my babies, and on the other hand weird to see how big my old “baby” was compared to my new baby. Was this right for me? I nursed both for a few minutes and it was hard to hold both, one would squirm/bump/kick the other and it was too much for me. N was crushed when I cut his nursing short. It felt different to nurse an older child; it’s not as snuggly and rewarding to me. His sadness was unbearable though. He had a definite need for it. Just because my view on nursing had changed, didn’t mean his did.

So we kept at it, usually nursing the new baby first, and N second. Looking back, this is what I learned:

Nursing him gave us time to connect without the baby. Touch is a huge part of our family. He needed to know that he had not been replaced, and I needed some time to just hold my first baby. Our 5-minute nursing sessions throughout the day fulfilled these needs. This also kept his routine intact.

Continuing to nurse N saved my sanity. Many times in the first several weeks of bringing J home my energy level was low. When J was asleep and N was on the go, too busy for my post-partum body to keep up with, the only way I was guaranteed get some downtime to relax was to nurse him. He would never pass up his milkies, and sometimes I just needed him to be still. Looking back, I am so thankful for that time. I have seen many of my mom friends struggle with the active toddler when they bring the baby home, and I think to myself how well it worked out to still be nursing N at that time.

Tandem nursing allowed us to all bond together, and decrease sibling rivalry overall. I did not simultaneously nurse both often. When I was nursing J and N could not be distracted from wanting to nurse too (usually in the mornings), I wouldn’t let a meltdown occur, I would invite him to join us. Precious moments from these rare nursing sessions include, J holding N’s hand, N stroking J’s hair, baby/toddler laughter when seeing each other at my breast, and two sets of adoring eyes looking up to me. I treasure these images that are engraved in my mind and my heart.

Tandem nursing makes for awesome milk supply. J did not have to work nearly as hard to build my milk supply–N did most of the work for her. I was blessed to have a second baby who nursed 10 minutes at most from day zero. Usually, 5 minutes was all she needed. This was HUGE to me, as N averaged 30-45 minutes per nursing session as a newborn. Each baby is different in how effectively they remove milk. It has been shown that “multiparous mothers (mothers who have given birth two or more times) are highly likely to produce more milk after subsequent pregnancies than they did for their first baby, especially if they worked very hard to encourage lactation in the past” (Cassar-Uhl, 2009). Tandem nursing further aided this increase in milk production.

Extended-term and tandem nursing are noted to have health benefits for the mother as well. Not only can it decrease the chance of getting certain cancers, it can also lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Breastfeeding in any form is so amazing and has so many benefits for both the mom and baby. The course can feel uncharted and isolated at times, but please know you are not alone and keep seeking out resources to help you in your journey!

Casey Mix-McNulty, RN, BSN is a full-time mom to an imaginative little boy and a feisty little girl. She is also a pediatric nurse aspiring towards becoming an IBCLC.





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Enjoying a Trip to the Grocery Store with a Toddler

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Enjoying a Trip to the Grocery Store with a ToddlerThe baby is screaming, the toddler is running from one item to another leaving behind a path of littered goods, and you are just trying to bust through the aisles as fast as possible to make it out and have something to eat tonight. Does the situation sound familiar to you? Shopping with young children in tow can feel like running an Ironman, but with a little (or a lot) of preparation you can make it enjoyable for everyone (most of the time).

Here are five tips for surviving the grocery store with your toddler.

  1. Be Prepared. As much as possible, try to have a list of exactly what you need to pick up.  If you haven’t already, try meal planning on the weekend. Start off by planning 4 dinners a week, and it usually comes out perfect with a night or two of leftovers and one night out. You can adjust this to your own family patterns. One big grocery shopping trip is easier than lugging the kids into the store several times a week.  Also try some of the meal planning services that give you a menu and itemized grocery lists broken down by department.
  2. Timing Matters. Try not to wait until the end of the day to rush to the grocery store.  Everyone is tired and has little focus in the afternoon. Instead, try to do your grocery shopping first thing in the morning. Get up, have breakfast, and off to the store. Everyone is happier in the morning, including the store employees and customers. They will be more receptive and welcoming to your children and add a pleasant vibe to completing your trip.
  3. Involve your child. Make sure that even though you are getting your work done, you focus on your children. Involve them in the trip. The grocery store is full of great teaching opportunities and your child will soak it up. In the produce section, talk about names, colors and shapes of the things you buy. Have your child find items you know they can recognize.  Have them help you put food in the bag or in the cart. Pay attention to the signs and pictures around the store–talk to them about the sign or have them find it. Play I-Spy games describing what you see, and encouraging them when they can identify the item. If your child is getting antsy, pretend you just got on a train and make the cart stop/go at various “stations” where the train is loaded. Teach your child to say hello, thank you, and goodbye to the workers your encounter, take time to let your child talk to them if they wish.
  4. Know your store. Make sure you know your store. Know where the bathrooms are, know where the trashcans are, and know where free handouts (cookies in the bakery, rice cakes at the sushi stand) are. This is a huge help when a crisis strikes.
  5. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground or leave. Even the most planned mom cannot plan how her child will behave. If your child is having a particularly difficult time, they need to feel the strength and direction of their caretaker. Do not be afraid to tough out the last few minutes or to leave the store and come back later to finish some or all of your shopping.

Casey Mix-McNulty, RN, BSN is a full-time mom to an imaginative little boy and a feisty little girl. She is also a pediatric nurse aspiring towards becoming an IBCLC.

Nursing While Pregnant

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Nursing While PregnantI’m sleeping! Baby has a schedule! Breastfeeding is natural and seamless! And BAM–I’m pregnant.

This is a situation many moms find themselves in. When celebrating this exciting news, so many questions about our current nursling arise. How we choose to modify our breastfeeding relationship once pregnant is a deeply personal decision. For me, I was committed to extended breastfeeding and baby-led weaning. I treasured my nursing relationship with my then 18-month-old, and I had no plans of making him adjust because I got pregnant. I knew that it isn’t always possible to nurse through pregnancy, but I was going to give it my best shot. That’s all we can do as mothers.

In the beginning breastfeeding didn’t feel any different, but it wasn’t too long before nursing was uncomfortable. The second trimester was by far the most challenging. During this trimester, my milk production was severely low, if not absent. Dry nursing–nursing with very little supply–and the lovely pregnancy hormones that make our nipples tender, was challenging for me. The third trimester, while better, still had its challenges. I would feel touched-out, and nursing made my skin crawl. I had to make some changes to our nursing relationship if I was going to continue through pregnancy and beyond, so here is what we did.

Limit frequency

The first change was frequency. We had already gradually reduced our nursing sessions, but now that I was experiencing the painful side of nursing while pregnant I needed a schedule. We settled on morning, nap, and bedtime. This helped me mentally prepare, but I would be lying if I said that we had a positive breastfeeding relationship at this time. It hurt; it felt like he was biting. Sometimes I would holler out “You’re biting,” or “OK, if you are biting we are done.” My poor son would get upset and cry. It took me a while to realize he wasn’t biting. It wasn’t about what he was doing, but the fact that my body was undergoing massive changes.

No Blaming

I had to stop blaming him for any pain I had. This was hard. Sometimes I would nurse with my teeth clenched tight, unable to look at him and enjoy this time together that I used to treasure. I had to consciously make an effort to lock eyes with him, smile, and stroke his hair, everything I used to do so naturally. Instead of crying out and blaming him when the pain seemed unbearable, I started a count down. “5…4…3…2…1, OK, no more Milkies!” This way he knew it was almost time to “put the milkies away.”

Time Limit

As time went on, more changes were necessary to preserve any sort of nursing relationship. In conjunction with my countdown, I also put a 5-minute time limit on our nursing sessions. This helped me make sure I was giving him enough time to touch base and get his cuddles in before ending the nursing session. Nursing wasn’t about food at this point; it was about the physical bond and connection we shared. At the end of each 5-minute period I would count down and make sure he knew we could snuggle.

These three changes, a long with my own determination, were integral in helping me continue nursing while pregnant. At first, all of these changes were hard for my son. But I was consistent with all of them, and he learned quickly that this was our new routine. Every time I thought about just weaning him, we would have a wonderful nursing session, he would stroke my cheek, or sign and say, “Milkies, please.”

Some nursing sessions were easier than others, but we did what was best for us. No matter what everyone is telling you as a mom, you have to do what is best for you and your family. No two people experience nursing the same. There is no right or wrong when determining something like when to wean or when to carry on. The important thing is to do what works and supports a happy mom and a happy baby.

Casey Mix-McNulty, RN, BSN is a full-time mom to an imaginative little boy and a feisty little girl.   She is also a pediatric nurse aspiring towards becoming an IBCLC.