on tandem nursing

I had never thought much about infant feeding until I found myself pregnant with my first child and inundated with information about breastfeeding versus bottlefeeding, on demand versus scheduled feeding, etc. etc. etc. It was overwhelming.

My first kid had a few issues with breastfeeding to start off, mainly due to his tongue tie. It took a few weeks to get into a real rhythm and every few months there was a new challenge. Despite all that thought we continued to breastfeed on demand for the first 21 months of his life. Then we night weaned, mainly because I was having such strong nursing aversions during my pregnancy, but also because I could not imagine night nursing TWO kids. Up until then he was nursing approximately every 2-3 hours when I was around – he was also in full-time daycare so we would sometimes go 6-8 hours without nursing but he would usually make up for this with extra night time feeds. The first night that he was able to sleep next to me without waking for night nursing was incredible!

Then my second kid came along and I thought I was an expert on breastfeeding. I soon realized that I was not at all prepared for the wonders and difficulties of tandem nursing. The first few weeks I felt I had to hide from my toddler to feed the newborn. I tried nursing both at once a few times but always had strong aversions to this. It took a few months before we settled into a new pattern, and by then the infant was changing his schedule and we had to readjust again. I was fortunate that my second child was much more easy-going with breastfeeding, and was sleeping 4-6 hours straight by 4 months old. Quite a difference from his older brother.

I now have a 3 1/2 year old and a (almost) 1 1/2 year old who are still both nursing. My eldest has gone weeks at a time without nursing but there are still days when he asks (such as today, which is what prompted me to write this). When he does nurse he rarely stays latched on longer than a few seconds, but it is definitely still very important to him that he can still have “booba” when he needs/wants to.

I am also pregnant, with another little one expected to join us earthside sometime early in the new year. Unlike the last time around I have already come to peace with the fact that by then my infant’s breastfeeding needs will be quite different from what they are now. I have no intention of trying to wean either kid although I’m still considering night weaning the little one so that the newborn can at least have all of my attention during those first few weeks. This is more for my own mental health than anything else, and I plan to wait until near the end of my pregnancy to do this although I am open to doing it sooner if I find myself having aversions again.

I guess the point of this post is to provide a quick summary of what breastfeeding has been like for us so far, but also to give some background before I begin sharing the journey from here on out. I hope that I will be able to share more about our tandem nursing struggles and successes in real time. While there are many breastfeeding resources out there, I have not been exposed to many women who tandem nurse and/or nurse a pre-schooler, and I only know of one black blogger sharing her experiences with extended breastfeeding. I hope that by sharing my own story I will be able to add to the important dialogues occurring about infant feeding, and to show other parents that not only is tandem nursing possible, but it is actually one way to help siblings form a secure attachment both with one another and with their parents.

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