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Adventures in Tandem Breastfeeding: Seven Months In, With a Little Rough Patch

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What a punim!

What a punim!

Ok, once again, I can’t actually put a photo of me tandem breastfeeding because:

1. I didn’t have my phone handy to take a photo with

2. Because I don’t have a free hand to take a photo with anyway whilst tandem breastfeeding

3. Because most of the people who read this blog are from America, and my friend, whom I talked to today and is tandem feeding a 3 year old and 1 year old twins, told me today that people are weird about breastfeeding in America… so I don’t want to weird all you yanks out ūüėõ (joking)

Anyway, we’re seven months into this whole tandem breastfeeding thing. ¬†When Goldie was in the newborn phase, I *think* everything was ok… Well, I can’t really remember, I was in this newborn bliss mode and was nothing but warm and fuzzy. ¬†But,,, sometime around 5 or 6 weeks post partum, I started to get really really annoyed with tandem feeding. ¬†It’s was mostly an annoyance with Margo’s BIG HEAD. ¬†(Actually, Margo’s head is really big, it’s in the 97% for size… big brain). ¬†So, compared to Goldie’s newborn head, it seemed obnoxiously huge! ¬†I wasn’t sure where this tandem breastfeeding annoyance had come from, I had happily fed Margo through my pregnancy, even the day I was in labor and then right along her newborn sister for weeks, no problem… but then it hit me… TANDEM BREASTFEEDING AVERSION!

Well, that’s a no brainer, most people would say to just stop feeding the older one. ¬†Margo was 2 1/2 at the time, an age when probably 99% of kids or more are no longer breastfed. ¬†Well, to me, I wasn’t going to just stop without giving it some time. ¬†You see, Margo is a boobie kid. ¬†Her first word: ‘Boobie‘. ¬†Her first two words: ‘More boobies‘. ¬†Her first sentence: ‘I want more boobies‘. ¬†Do you see where I’m going with this? ¬†It’s not like they were just for nutrition, they were totally, like, this girl’s lifeline or something. ¬†Plus, easier said than done, weaning a toddler when your boobs are out all day feeding a newborn + everyone is still adjusting to having a new family member… ¬†Sounded like a disaster zone. ¬†So, ¬†I decided to put my strong aversion to brestfeeding her aside and ¬†decided to give it some time before I made any hasty decisions.

I did lots of things in the meantime, I joined online groups specifically for people tandem feeding and did a lot of research on what was happening. ¬†I also changed a few things about the tandem routine that seemed to help. ¬†After a few months of being very close to going nuts… I have to say that we’re over those early day hurdles! ¬†Margo is about to turn three next week, and I can happily report that we’re still going and things have mellowed out. I’m glad that I stuck with it. Not everyone who tandem feed experiences breastfeeding aversion for the older child… but I certainly did. ¬†There were a few things to understand or change that seemed to help me big time while I was going through this:

Raging Hormones!

Understand that most breastfeeding aversions to an older child are NORMAL! ¬†There are lots of hormones coming into play. ¬†Don’t think that just because you’re feeling breastfeeding resentment towards your older child means that you don’t love your kid or something! Nonsense! ¬†Someone I was chatting to really hit the nail on the head when she told me that one of the biggest problems with tandem feeding in the early days was the difference in head size! ¬†Cute little newborn head… and GIANT TODDLER WRECKING BALL HEAD! ¬†If you look in nature, it’s very normal for most animals to sort of kick the older one off the boob a little. ¬†It’s ok!

Also, what’s interesting, is that even to this day, if I’m feeling any breastfeeding resentment at all towards the older one… my let down won’t happen at all, even if I’m really full! ¬†But then, the second the baby gets on there, the milk comes out. ¬†Same sucking motion.. different mouth… different hormones.

Set Up a ‘Feeding Schedule’

I’m all about demand feeding for a baby… but when my hormones were raging and I was about to completely give up feeding the older one, I decided that I would have set times to feed her so that I didn’t go bonkers. ¬†This was especially helpful as I could time it while feeding the little one and I found tandem feeding them at the same time much easier. ¬†Let down (or when the milk comes out, it’s sort of like a boob sneeze), happens much faster when they’re both on there. ¬†Faster let down, meant eliminating ‘total sucking time’ from the older one. ¬†I did (still do), usually three feeds for Margo a day, the one early in the morning she gets alone, and the before-nap and before-bed feed are usually tandem, with the baby. ¬†If we’re out of the house, then ‘oops’, she doesn’t get the mid-day feed, but oh well, she’s too busy to bother.

When to Set the Limits

If you find yourself wanting to rip your hair out, or your toes are curling, or you want to run out of the room screaming… that’s a good indication that you should probably end the session with the older one and tell them that you will have to try again later. ¬†This may result in some tears from the child initially, but usually, I found, that I could remedy it by offering some food or drink. ¬†I also have to say ‘no’, or make it a very short session, if I feel that my supply is down, or if the baby just had a huge feed and there is not much left. ¬†Or, if it’s the end of the day and I’m sore from the baby feeding all day. I tell Margo, ‘Mommy’s boobies are empty, do you want to see?’ ¬†I then let her on for about 10 seconds and then say, ‘See, there’s nothing in there, we’ll have some later’.

Get Support

Ok, haha, not bra support… support from other mothers who are also tandem feeding. ¬†The internet is your most valuable resource when it comes to this, because you may not actually know anyone else who is tandem feeding. ¬†There are online chat groups, facebook groups and ‘real face-to-face‘ breastfeeding association meetings that you can attend. ¬†In Australia, it’s the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), I think in America, it’s La Leche League?

Communication is Key

Don’t be too hard on yourself! ¬†Some days, I hardly let Margo on the boob at all! ¬†Even now, when things have calmed down, I still have to say ‘no’. ¬†It’s just that I know when I’ve reached my limit and Margo and I have formed a much better communication relationship between us. ¬†Even if she doesn’t like it, if I tell her ‘no boobies right now‘, she knows that they will come later. ¬†Talk about it a lot with your child. ¬†They will understand more than you think. ¬†You can tell them how it makes you feel too. ¬†I often tell her that right now mommy’s feeling grumpy, or sore or tired, or whatever, and we just can’t do it right now. ¬†Even if she gets upset, I think to myself, ‘well, it’s either this or nothing….’. ¬†She often gets over being upset very quickly and if she keeps complaining, it’s usually because she’s exhausted and needs to fall asleep.

Know The Impermanence 

You won’t ALWAYS be tandem breastfeeding your babies… ¬†If you choose to stick it out and tandem breastfeed, it’s not going to be forever. ¬†Also know that, if you’re going through a rough patch and experiencing some strong breastfeeding resentment towards the older child, that your feelings may also change if you give it some time. ¬†Get support, let people (like your husband and family), know how you’re feeling, (but only if you think they will be supportive in your decision to tandem feed). ¬†And, if you absolutely cannot stand the tandem feeding and you feel you have no other option than to end it… also know that you’ve got to listen to your gut and trust that you are doing what’s best for you in your situation. ¬†(Although, do give it some time, you may surprise yourself). ¬†Hope that helps! ¬†Happy Boobing ūüôā

Breastfeeding is for babies... Not!

Breastfeeding is for babies… Not!

 

5 Responses »

  1. Yay tandem feeding!! No “ick” factor coming from this direction!

    Reply
  2. I so totally know what you mean when you say it’s like her “lifeline” or something, not just for nutrition. I definitely get the ick factor from time to time especially when I’m pregnant. This time it’s harder for me, having bad nausea while pregnant with #4 and nursing compounds the nausea. I agree giving ourselves some time to really decide whether to wean helps. I’ve surprised myself every time. As a result I’ve been nursing for 7 years non-stop. It’s so weird to some people isn’t it Really helpful post!

    Reply
    • Wow! Seven years! I’m going on just over three with no end in sight, but I knew that somewhere out there there was someone who had been going non stop for way longer than me! I never really have that feeling of, ‘oh I need my body back’, but there are certainly times when I laugh and feel like a milk cow!

      Reply
  3. So glad I came across this article ūüôā it’s not just my eldest’s head I find huge, it’s her whole self since baby arrived! will definitely follow your advice as we keep on tandem feeding xxx

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