tandem nursing – FAQ

I have been nursing both girls for over three months now. I really thought there would be more work to this, drama, strife, something. . . but this has been one of the best and easiest transitions in the dance of adding another child. Nolie nurses about three times a day, sometimes a little more and sometimes a little less. She loves to nurse at the same time as Ever and while that is logistically/ physically a little hard it is worth it because they love it so much. Nolie offers out her finger and Ever grasps on, they look at each other and Nolie does that nursing grin that breaks my heart. Tandem nursing is easily one of the best decisions I have made for my girls.

FAQ:

Do you have enough milk for both? Yes! I nursed both of them from the get go so my body produced enough for two kids right from the start.

Is Ever growing enough/getting enough and does she nurse first?  You know, the whole ‘when do I nurse who’ thing was really confusing and worrisome to me before we started but it has come really naturally. In the morning I don’t nurse Nolie till Ever is fully awake and done eating. She sleeps with us from about 2am on and nurses on and off till 7. But during the day I just kind of go with the flow. Sometimes Ever sleeps for a long time and instead of pumping off the engorgement I offer to nurse Nolie (and she VERY happily obliges) and other times I wait, like in the morning, for Ever to be totally full and done and then Nurse Nolie. But basically I have total faith in my bodies ability to produce enough milk to satisfy both of them and I don’t put too much thought or worry into it. As for Ever, she is growing like a weed and putting on weight just right and Nolie has gained three pounds since my milk came in! Hurray for going from skim to heavy whipping cream!

What about colostrum? Was there enough or did it ever come in? A lot of people have wondered if I ever had colostrum or if it was just constant milk since I nurse through my whole pregnancy. How it went for me. . . I had milk through my second trimester and then from about 25-30 weeks I was pretty much dry, then my colostrum came in and Nolie drank that. It continued to flow, stronger, once Ever arrived and when she was two days old my milk came back in. However, newborn milk and toddler milk are very, obviously, different and it came in hard and strong. Lots of milk just dripping out. In short, your body won’t create a certain amount of colostrum but rather creates it for a certain duration.

Pumping too? I am pumping here and there, I have donated about 60oz and have another 25 or so in the freezer to hand off. I have given to a couple of families but now have one family I will be donating to regularly. I don’t have over/under supply issues and pumping has taken some work and effort to figure out but I am finally getting the hang of it. Your body will produce what is demanded of it so it isn’t crazy to think of nursing two and pumping regularly.

Are you just nursing constantly?? No, not really. But both of my girls have/are frequent nursing babies. Nolie nursed all the time as a baby and Ever is following in her footsteps (or lip smacks). So adding in three (for Nolie) doesn’t feel like that much of an extra draw. In the early (first month) days I was nursing somewhere between 22-25 times a day and that was really crazy but it established a great supply and perfect latch. Now, at three months, I nurse about 12 times a day and that feels very manageable.

I don’t know how long we will tandem nurse for, I don’t intend to wean Nolie until she wants to be done but who knows how I will feel in another few months/year. I have no problem nursing an older toddler and am exceedingly grateful for all that nursing has done for my relationship with my girls and their relationship with each other. Nolie has surprised me time and time again with how willing to wait and share she is and how concerned she is that Ever get to nurse first. I think it has also helped improve her relationship with food because she is grasping that she gets to eat lots of fun foods that babies don’t and so she is actually less reliant on nursing than she was before Ever arrived. Overall, nothing but positives have come from our experience.

If you have any other questions about tandem nursing ask in the comments and I’ll answer them there! Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Comments

  1. Sharalyn says:

    NIce! I’m so hoping to be able to tandem this time (9.5 years between babies doesn’t lend itself to tandem nursing… LOL). :-)

  2. Hi! I was pointed to your blog by a friend! I just found out I am expecting again and I really want to nurse my older daughter while I’m pregnant, at least until her first birthday (she’s 5.5 months old).
    How old is/was your older daughter while you were pregnant and nursing?
    Any advice for me to help keep up my supply and keep my baby satisfied and nourished?
    Thanks for this! I am not sure if I will tandem nurse, but I am really considering it!
    Amie Parham recently posted..Another cloth diaper post!My Profile

    • Congrats on baby #2!! Nolie was 19 months when I got pregnant and my milk did take a major dip for the majority of my pregnancy. I would start right now with measures to keep it up. Tons of water, lots of animal and plant based fats and look into whether or not mothers milk/ fenugreek and milk thistle are safe for pregnancy (I am 99% sure that they are but you should check with your midwife/doctor). If you do end up supplementing don’t take that as a reason that you should give up the possibility of tandem nursing. You can keep nursing and supplementing and once your milk comes in (after baby) your toddler can resume nursing as normal and likely be happy as a clam with her new fatty milk! Good luck and feel free to email me (autumnmeyer25@gmail.com) if you want any more info/ want to chat about it. Nursing while pregnant comes with its own set of hardships and can take some dedication but if you decide to do it you can totally succeed!
      Autumn recently posted..tandem nursing – FAQMy Profile

  3. Autumn, I just have to say you are super mom. I definitely quietly lurk on your blog all the time and read every post. I so appreciate you doing things like FAQs. For people like me that haven’t had kids yet it is so hard to imagine the day-in day-out details and the those unknowns are what typically scare me the most. Thanks for sharing all you share about motherhood. I really admire your honesty and openness. :)

  4. You are a superhero! It’s so inspiring to hear (read) you saying you have complete faith in your body’s ability to provide for both your girls. Our bodies are amazing, but it’s so easy to get caught up in anxiety and lose that trust.

    What breastpump do you use, and how do you like it?
    Noelle recently posted..Post-Kid Kitchen: Double Chocolate-Chip CookiesMy Profile

    • Thank you Noelle! For some reason I have doubt about my body in some arenas but mother/nursing/birthing hasn’t been one of them. I know we are designed for it and so far so good on the birth and boobs front!

      I use a pump n’ style that I am borrowing from a friend and I love it. Lots of settings and it works awesome. Apparently the newer pumps have a setting that is supposed to be a little more random and help stimulate a letdown, that seems like it would be an awesome function! But this little workhorse is working great for me!
      Autumn recently posted..tandem nursing – FAQMy Profile

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am not preggers yet, but I am super interested in breastfeeding. No one in my family has done it so I don’t have anyone to ask questions. I had a reduction a few years ago and the doctor left as many milk ducts intact as she could so that my chance of nursing successfully would be greater. One of my major concerns is actually about intamcy with your spouse. I was curious how having your breasts associated with intamcy with your children changes how you are able to be intimate with your husband. I hope I am wording this correctly. Feedback from other readers would be helpful too.

    • You know, a lot of women have a huge problem with this- the switch from breasts being pleasure only to becoming something more utilitarian. I think the key for me is making a point of switching my mindset. After a big nursing marathon (bed time, for example, I nurse both girls and Ever nurses on and off for a couple of hours… it can feel like quite a lot) I make a point of being alone for awhile and doing something that makes me feel good- going for a run, taking a shower alone, really seriously cleaning the kitchen (hah I am such a weirdo). That way I am not in the ‘nurse a baby’ mode and can feel just like myself. Then anything intimate doesn’t feel so weird/boundary crossing. For us nursing hasn’t made nearly the impact on intimacy/sex as sleep depravation! And that will come with any baby, not just a nursed one. And maybe even less with a nursed one, I can’t image waking fully up to make up/warm a bottle at night!
      Autumn recently posted..tandem nursing – FAQMy Profile

      • Also, I am planning on writing more about this. I just need to get up the pluck to do so!
        Autumn recently posted..tandem nursing – FAQMy Profile

      • I’m with Autumn: feeling tired (make that EXHAUSTED) was a MUCH bigger problem, sexuality-wise, than nursing. I just felt like my body was multi-purpose in so many ways, that having my breasts be both a food source and a pleasure site wasn’t too big a mental shift. The thing that really made a difference, though, in terms of feeling good and balancing the two was my partner. He was and continues to be VERY pro-breastfeeding. Since he wasn’t going to make an issue of it, I felt like I didn’t need to either.
        Noelle recently posted..Mountain MamaMy Profile

  6. Winartania says:

    Hi Autum! Just find this post from twitter. I’m currently tandem nurse my 2 kids, Hannah 23mos and Ezra 5mos. Something that bother me is that Hannah wants to nurse whenever Ezra does. And she barely don’t want to eat. Whenever she feels hunger, all she wants to do is drinking mama’s milk. I’m afraid that she doesn’t well nourished :(
    Do you have any similar experience?

    • Oh man, I understand your woes! We had an EMOTIONAL few days of setting some nursing boundaries in order to keep me from feeling way over extended and touched out. I say no to Nolie unless it is morning, nap, nighttime. Otherwise any nursing we do is ” a special extra nurse” and seen as an infrequent treat.
      I really think that in order to be successful at longterm tandem nursing (or any toddler nursing) you have to be comfortable setting boundaries. I explain to Nolie that she gets to eat food (and list her favorites) and that Baby Ever can’t so she has to nurse all the time. I also remind her of the next time she gets to nurse “after nap time you will get another nurse with Mama!” . She seems ok enough with that answer but it was a rough few days in the beginning when I set those boundaries.
      Autumn recently posted..tandem nursing – FAQMy Profile

  7. Hi Autumn! I am re-reading (and also will be bookmarking!) this post, as we just recently found out we are expecting our second! :D my son is one month shy of being 1 year old, and still nurses frequently. I never knew of tandem nursing until reading about it in your blog last year. Now, I love love love the thought of it, especially after seeing how beneficial it has been for your daughters’ relationship.

    You mentioned that at around 25-30 weeks, your milk dries up, prior to colostrum kicking in. During this time, did you still continue to have Nolie try to nurse? What was this time like?
    All the info is greatly appreciated! I don’t know any other mamas who have tandem nursed, or would even attempt it..

    • Congrats! Tandem nursing can be a bumpy road at first, but for us it has been super wholly worth it!

      I did continue to nurse her, was dry for at least a few weeks. Dry nursing can really hurt/feel weird and be lame, but I continued to nurse her through it so she wouldn’t lose/forget her latch. But it was all led by her :) She wanted to keep nursing, so I did. During that painful nursing time I found that being distracted was the best way for me to get through it, lots of TV/reading/phone to get through it. But, once my milk came in- it went back to feeling totally normal :)

  8. Hi! I am just now coming across this blog by way of pinterest. My question is: did your older daughter use nursing as her way to fall asleep at night, and if so, how did you reconcile that when the new baby came? Thank you!:)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] have written about it my nursing relationship(s) here and there { tandem nursing FAQ, nursing a two year old, and our (baby) breast feeding success story from when Nolie was a wee [...]

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