Posts Tagged ‘tandem breastfeeding’

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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