Posted in Blog, Breastfeeding, Family life, Life as a mom, Mother

Tandem Nursing? Me?

Tandem nursing was one of those things I never thought I’d be doing.

I was raised on formula (I was adopted in the ’80s, which made formula pretty much the only option), and before my daughter was born, I’d only met one person who’d breastfed her child- my best friend back home in Illinois. In addition, I had PCOS, which can cause over- and undersupply issues with lactation (though 1/3 of women with PCOS have neither issue). So, I figured I’d give breastfeeding a shot, but if it didn’t work out I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it.

But I was happily surprised to find out that it was all pretty easy- CJ latched like a pro from the get-go, and it was mostly smooth sailing from then on. The hardest part actually were the first few days in the hospital waiting for my milk to come in with a very angry, hungry newborn, and the fairly normal aches and pains of getting used to nursing for the first few weeks. After that, though, it was a breeze- no plugged ducts, no mastitis, nada. Just me, my baby and a pump after I went back to work.

So when we got pregnant again unexpectedly when CJ was just six months old, I worried. I’d originally planned to make it just six weeks with nursing her, and see how that went, and then three months, etc., etc. By that point, my goal was to make it to a year. But… I was pregnant! I decided to continue nursing CJ as long as I could, in part because I wanted to make the first few weeks with baby #2 a little easier. I thought maybe if I could keep nursing CJ through the pregnancy, I could avoid the early soreness and maybe get my milk to come in early enough to avoid the angry newborn wailing.

And while it wasn’t difficult, it definitely had its ups and downs. We’d started supplementing not long after I went back to work, and by the end of the pregnancy, CJ was down to just one to two sessions per day, and I often wondered if she was even getting anything. Of course, every time I seriously wondered, she’d pop off and dribble a drop or two, and I’d feel a little better.

But then, after birth, there was the inevitable question: What happens now? CJ spent her first night away from us while we gave birth to her little sister, and things went fine, but I thought maybe just being away for 48 hours might have forced weaning to an extent. Naturally, the first thing she wanted when I got home was to nurse. Which was nice, because goodness, I’d forgotten how painful engorgement was!

However, nursing was also the only thing CJ suddenly had to share with her new baby sister. And she was NOT happy about it. The first time she saw the baby nursing, she walked up and made it clear that she wanted to nurse. So I had my husband help me try to get her latched on the other side, and she nursed for a little while. But my little 15-month-old is so easily distracted now that she wanted to switch sides…. unfortunately, the other side was occupied. So CJ put her hand on the baby’s head and tried valiantly to push it off before daddy pulled her off my lap and away from the baby.

Cue the first full-on toddler temper tantrum of her short existence. And another, less than a day later, when she again wanted to nurse while the baby was nursing. For the most part, it’s been easy enough to separate the two while nursing so far, and as time goes on, CJ gets used to having to share her mama with another little baby.

It’s been an interesting journey, and I’m not sure how things will pan out- whether CJ will continue to want to nurse (she sure seems pretty happy that the milk is back in full force!), or whether I’ll ever be able to truly tandem nurse both girls at once (maybe when the newborn is less, well, newborn?). But somewhere along the way, I became a tandem nurser! Who knew?

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  1. I feel so honored that I got mentioned in your post!

    You go, mama!

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