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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tandem Nursing: What Got Me Through the Early Days

This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop. Visit the links below and link up your own story to tell us about breastfeeding with an older child or leave a comment!

When I had Little M last January, Baby T was still nursing. I knew I wasn't going to wean him right away--it seemed cruel to do that right after shaking up his life by bringing home a newborn. But deciding whether to actually nurse them at the same time and scheduling the nursings was a roller coaster. There were pros and cons to tandem nursing, but the pros definitely outweighed the cons.

This is how I made it through the early days of tandem nursing a toddler and newborn.

Engorgement and Sore Nipples

One of the best things about tandem nursing was not dealing with engorgement. Little M would nurse all night, and when we woke, Baby T would nurse first thing in the morning. That early morning fullness was easily dealt with by a toddler. When it was time for Little M to nurse again, I didn't have to deal with spraying him like a fire hose.

Also, Little M had a very shallow latch, and I had one very sore nipple that he had somehow removed the skin from. Nursing Little M on that nipple was excruciating, but Baby T had a big mouth and a great latch. So I was able to latch him on the painful side until it was healed.

Brother Bonding

We were feeling very guilty about bringing a new baby into Baby T's life. He had been our one and only, and we were afraid he would lash out at his new brother. Instead, he was gentle and loving toward him. He would inspect Little M's sweet face and reach out and hold Little M's tiny hand while they nursed together.

Nursing in a Wrap

Even though Baby T loved his little brother from the very beginning, there were times when I wasn't up for nursing both of them at the same time. Baby T was very susceptible to suggestion, so if he saw me nursing, he would immediately want to nurse. In addition, nursing a newborn with a toddler around isn't the same as it is when you have your first child. You can't just drop everything, sit back on the couch, and nurse for an hour. If your newborn cries in the car while you're running errands, you can't just sit in the parking lot and nurse, or your toddler yells at you.

I quickly learned how to nurse in a woven wrap (I have a super-long Didymos - it's a size 6). It let me nurse Little M without Baby T even knowing, and allowed me to nurse while doing things like teaching Baby T to ride a bike or shopping at the grocery store.

This is the best video I found for nursing in a wrap. There are a couple of things that make this pretty fail-safe: Just worry about latching your baby on instead of worrying about the wrap at first; after latching baby on, ignore the top rail and just tighten the bottom rail.

The only things I did differently were that I didn't pull Little M's arm out the bottom and I crossed the pieces the opposite way across his body (the rail going across his head went under the one going over his butt.) This didn't allow me to use the wrap as a privacy shield, but I felt like it gave me more support. This was my lifesaver while I was tandem nursing.

Here is the video:

I'm still nursing Little M several times a day (and night), but Baby T has weaned. He still asks to nurse, though, and sometimes he lays his head on the other side of my breast as Little M is nursing. With Baby T, I needed the Boppy to nurse and the positioning had to be just right. With Little M, as long as he gets my nipple in his mouth, he can nurse, whether he's upside down, sitting up, or lying next to me. It's not so much a science the second time around.

It's an art form.


Sisters 'N Cloth said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for sharing that video! It was great :) I don't have a wrap, but that makes me want to be sure I buy one before I have another baby! ~Melissa

The Gnome's Mom said... Best Blogger Tips

I wonder if tandem nursing is in our future since we are ttc our second. This makes it sound not so scary and overwhelming.

Two of my videos (nursing in a Moby and alternative wrap for the Moby) came up as "next up" videos when this one finished, yay! I just ordered my first woven (a size 5 Elleville) and I can't wait to get it!

Alexia said... Best Blogger Tips

This was such an encouraging post! I am still nursing my daughter at 22 months and feel like I want to let her wean when she's ready, not just because baby #2 is coming in March. I think we can tandem nurse now. Not scared at all!! Thanks!

P.S. I'm getting more and more sold on a Didymos every post I read!!

The Slacker Mom said... Best Blogger Tips

I was never able to nurse in a wrap- all my boys needed so much assistance with latching I just resigned myself to the chair. I always think I will one day though...

Isil said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for sharing your story.I actually looked for a sling that would make my life easier whilst tandem feeding,asked around on forums and didn't get a satisfying answer.So this might be very useful for some people.

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