Posts Tagged ‘tandem nursing’

Weaning While Tandem Nursing

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016
weaning while tandem nursingBreastfeeding two children at the same time was not my plan–it just happened. Whenever my son saw my newborn nurse, it triggered him to want to also.
I attempted to wean my son from nursing as soon as I found out I was pregnant when he was 13 months old.  He was not having it.  Thinking about what would happen when my daughter was born gave me anxiety.  Finally, my midwife educated me about tandem nursing and encouraged me to accept the fact that my son would most likely want to breastfeed once he witnessed his sister doing it.  So, I started the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method of weaning.  My son was down to nursing one time per day before my second baby arrived.
My 21 month old son didn’t nurse for 4 days while I was in labor and in the hospital after delivery.  I was hoping that meant he may have been weaned.  That was not the case.  When I returned home, he wanted to nurse.  The frequency that he wanted to nurse increased over the following weeks.  It was overwhelming and exhausting for me.  I felt like a milk machine.  The time had come that I had to break the news to my toddler that his days of nursing were coming to an end.
I knew it would be tricky to break him from nursing all together, especially since he would be reminded of it throughout the day when I fed his sister. To my surprise, once I got serious about it, it wasn’t as difficult for him as I thought it would be.  In fact, it only took one week for him to be completely finished. The following are techniques I used to end his breastfeeding journey:
Singing an upbeat song while he nursed.  One day, I started singing one of his favorite songs (“I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”) anytime he nursed. The next day, I told him that I would sing the song one time and when I was done singing, he had to stop.  Each day, the song got shorter and shorter.  It turned into a game for him.  He actually liked showing me that he understood the game and stopped at the exact time he was supposed to.  After only a few days, this seemed to change nursing for him.  Breastfeeding was no longer something that helped him fall asleep or soothed him, due to the distraction of me singing.
Refusal and redirection.  When my son did ask to nurse, I would say, “Not right now,” and would redirect him to another activity.
Offering other milk options.  Many times when he asked for “mamas milk”, I gave him the option of having pumped milk in a cup or frozen “milk ice” in a bowl.  Those were his choices.
Feeding the baby in private.  For the first few weeks after he stopped nursing, I tried to feed his sister someplace that was out of his site.
Talking about the change.  Communication was key during this transition.  I explained that he no longer was going to have mamas milk because his baby sister needed to have it.  We talked about the other drinks that he could have instead.
Quality time with his mommy.  Having a new baby in the family had to be hard for him to understand. Especially a baby that
took over his food supply and that he had to share his mom with.  I made sure that I spent one-on-one time snuggling, reading, and playing with him as much as often as I could.
Sarah Cole is a stay at home mom of two toddlers who hopes that her youngest will wean from nursing easier than her oldest child did.

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.





 [C1]Hyperlink to previous blog post

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.

Friday Family Spotlight: Meet Amy’s Family!

Friday, February 8th, 2013

I am excited to introduce you to Amy and her family! I absolutely LOVE the story of how she met her hubby…it would make a cute scene in a book or movie. Read on to learn more about Amy and her awesome traveling family!

Who are the members of your family? Amy (Mommy), George (Daddy), twins Alex and Drew (6 ½), Ethan (2), Victor (3 months). And our 2 cats, Felix and Persephone.

How did you meet your significant other? At an art museum, where we got into an argument over the merits of modern art. I won, and he bought me a tea at the cafe. Our whole house is now decorated with modern art.

What is your favorite Mom’s Milk Boutique Product? Very hard to say, but I think the Best Bottoms diaper system are currently my favorite. The inserts are super-absorbent (even overnight), and I can use them on both the 2-year-old and the 3-month-old. The shells are great, they hold everything, wipe clean, and come out of the wash like new! I just wish MMB could stock the training pants, hint, hint… 🙂

What do you and your family like to do for recreation? We travel! My husband is Active Duty Army, and we are stationed in Germany. We’ve lived here for four years and one of our family goals is to see as much of the world as possible. My twins had seen as many different places by age 3 as I had by age 30, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share so much of the world with our kids. Below is a photo I took last spring of my husband and the boys walking through the woods in The Netherlands. (Husband’s sporting the Ergobaby Performance Sport, which is his favorite carrier!) We also take a trip every winter to the Alps, where my husband snowboards, the kids go to ski school, and I go to the spa–very recreational. 🙂

What is your favorite baby carrier and why? My favorite is the Beco Butterfly II, because I can carry my toddler on my back and barely even feel him, and I can easily get the baby in and out. I also love that you can put an older baby in the “pocket” part and put the carrier on like a backpack–so much easier for when they can’t yet climb on your back!

Describe your cloth diaper stash: Mostly Gro-Via shells and inserts, although we’re adding in Best Bottoms. I have a few Blueberry and Thirsties shells, and a mix of inserts, but so far the Gro-Via and Best Bottoms work best for us. (I love that I can lay the BB inserts into another brand of shell and they still absorb everything.) We’re looking at trainers for the very near future, and I’m hoping to try the Blueberry trainers.

What is the best and worst parenting advice you have ever been given? The best advice was from my mom: “Trust your instincts.” The worst was from a lactation consultant in the hospital where my twins were born. They were premature and receiving gavage-feedings in the NICU with my milk. She was very upset that I was only using a manual pump (the electric never worked for me), and she scolded me “If you don’t learn to use the electric pump, you will NEVER make enough milk for two babies.” I never used an electric pump and my twins nursed exclusively until 4 months, and continued on only breastmilk (no formula) until they self-weaned at 19 months. Glad I followed my mom’s advice!

What goals do you have for your family in the next year or two? The first goal is to survive colic. Our youngest is very colicky and it’s hard on everyone. Once we get past that, we’re hoping to do some more traveling. We want to go to Turkey, the Czech Republic, Berlin, and Poland in the next couple of years.

Describe your daily routine: I have a 3-month-old. Once I get the big boys off to school and the toddler to preschool, we go with the flow.

What has been your toughest challenge as a mom so far? Having a colicky baby. I think it’s more challenging because this is our 4th. We thought that since we survived preemie twins (brutal!) and already had a single baby (easiest baby in the world), that we were prepared to have another one. He’s starting to come out of it, but the nonstop screaming for hours on end has been extremely hard on everyone. I feel terrible that I can’t do anything to make him feel better (and we have tried EVERYTHING), and I feel terrible for the older kids too. The screaming is hard on them, plus Mommy is always pre-occupied with the baby. It’s definitely a tough transition. I’m so grateful that my 2-yr-old is still nursing, because at least we can tandem-nurse and he gets his mommy-time in (and the baby isn’t screaming then). I try to find time to spend with each of my older boys as well.

What are some of your favorite “me” time indulgences? Massages and pedicures! Also, I keep large scented candles, and I almost always have one burning. I like soothing scents, like lavender or apple pie, to warm up the whole house.

What’s your number one secret for stretching a dollar? Going from hybrid-diapering to all-cloth is saving us a lot of money! I was afraid to try all-cloth for a long time because we have a German washer and dryer, but once I saw how much we were going to have to spend each month to hybrid-diaper two at once, it made a lot more sense to go all-cloth. The laundry isn’t nearly as bad as I was afraid it would be, and we are saving over $60 a month not buying the Biosoakers.

What is one of your favorite quotes? “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” –Helen Keller

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I already have superpowers, are you kidding? I make milk! For two babies! At the same time! I also teach children’s theatre classes in the summer time, occasionally act and direct in our local theatre, and I’m on the board of directors for our community peer breastfeeding organization, Mom2Mom KMC, so I have the added superpower of being able to go on 3 hours of sleep for about 4 days… If I could have ANOTHER superpower, it would be the ability to create extra hours in the day when I need them!

Wow, Amy you DO have superpowers!! Thank you so very much for sharing your family with us. We wish you all the very best and may your travel adventures resume soon as your youngest son grows! 🙂

Would you like to have your family featured in a Friday Family Spotlight AND win a FREE $10 gift certificate to Mom’s Milk Boutique for your participation? If so email with the subject line “Friday Family Spotlight Inquiry” and share something interesting about your family in your email message.

Happy Friday Everyone!!


Breastfeeding is a Journey

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

(pictured above my current nursling and my daughter Heidi)

I am a mom. I have 4 children, all of whom were (some currently) breastfed.  I am the oldest of 5 children that were breastfed. In the end, you really don’t know what you think you know about breastfeeding. And this is my journey.

I exclusively breastfed my first baby, Graeme, for 7 months, and then I weaned him. I was working full time and I was having a hard time pumping and neither my husband or I had the knowledge or support system to continue any longer. My husband thought he shouldn’t be nursed to sleep, and I wasn’t knowledgable enough to defend my case. So I stopped. Graeme was rattled with ear infections after that and ended up with tubes in his ears at 18 months. Ouch. Lesson learned, and hindsight is 20/20.

My next baby came along when my son was 2.5 years old. This little girl was my pivot point, and just as spirited then as she is 5 years later. I exclusively breastfed Heidi and when the time came at 3 months to go back to work, I sent her to day care for 9 hours every day with several bottles of breastmilk. She refused the bottle. She refused the bottle forever. Sooo, she made me work. I did research. And lo and behold, there is this thing called reverse cycling. I fed her when she woke, I fed her when I dropped her off at day care, when I could get away, I would come and feed her at lunch, I would pump during the day, I would feed her when I picked her up, and then we would nurse LOTS during the night. We did this until I quit working 9 months later. We did add some solids around 7-8 months as her weight had hit a plateau, but she was only moderately interested in them. Her doctor was very supportive and not worried. Eventually weight began to increase slowly. I am thankful to my stubborn, bottle refusing girl, because she made me her only source of food, and I rose to the tiring, very inconvenient challenge. She taught me that I am enough, and we CAN work out our challenges. She continued nursing until she was 25 months – I was pregnant with my 3rd and my milk had pretty much dried up.

I had my third baby 2 months after Heidi weaned. I was a little sad about her weaning because we had made it so long and I was hoping she would help with those early weeks of engorgement. I even offered to nurse Heidi after the baby came, but she didn’t remember how.  So much for tandem nursing. I exclusively nursed #3 (Kaatje) until she was about 12 months. Until that point, she just didn’t have any interest in foods. I would make her a plate with the rest of the family, but she preferred to nurse.

I had my 4th son when Kaatje was 34 months old and she was still nursing. My milk dried up a lot towards the end of my pregnancy, so we were only nursing for a few minutes a couple times a day. I was excited to be able to embark on the tandem nursing experience, even if I felt like Kaatje was almost weaned. Oh boy, was I wrong…my milk came in and Kaatje turned into a newborn!! Whenever the baby was being fed, Kaatje decided that she should be too. “Why is baby having milkies? I want milkies too!” So, thankfully I have two breasts that produce ample milk, as Kaatje claimed one to herself and the baby got the other one.  For the first few weeks, Kaatje went on a total food strike and started coming in at midnight to nurse. At first, I nursed her, thinking that this wouldn’t continue, but after a month, this double newborn thing really took its toll. My husband was not supportive of this (neither was I), but thankfully he put his foot down and started putting her back to bed. She stopped waking up so early and doesn’t come in now until around 6 am. That, I can handle as the baby sleeps with us and I don’t like being sandwich in between two nursers…it’s too tiring. Mamas of twins (+) I commend you!!

So, here we are 6 months into tandem nursing, and the baby is doing great. He was my best latcher! With all the others I had cracked, bleeding nipples, but not so with him (sooo thankful!). However, Kaatje would prefer to nurse than eat and still wants to nurse whenever she sees the baby nursing. She has a good relationship with the baby as long as the nursing is equitable, so I am continuing to let her self-wean. There are many times that I enjoy our nursing time, and I like to cuddle her. She has beautiful brown eyes that always appear very thankful when she is being held in my arms.  I struggle.  She asks to nurse a lot and throws quite large fits when she can’t – like when I am trying to make a meal for everyone or the baby is asleep in a carrier on my back. I try to accommodate when I can, but to be honest, sometimes I don’t feel like nursing her. She isn’t ready to wean, but sometimes I am.  My husband’s support is there, but waning.

If Heidi taught me anything about breastfeeding it is that I shouldn’t give up. So, this is my ongoing journey. This is my new adventure….this is what tandem nursing looks like for me…sweetness.

My two nurslings

My two nurslings







~ Abbie