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Tandem nursing was something I set out to do before I even became pregnant with my second son. I thought it sounded romantic. It sounded easy. It turned out to be over-whelming and one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Many women will end up nursing multiple children through pregnancies and beyond whether they choose to or they just can’t seem to wean in time. I have created a list of tips that might help you feel a bit more prepared than I was.
1.Expect that you’ll lose milk. During pregnancy most women lose most of their milk supply by their second trimester. This is your body’s natural process of growing a baby. I lost my milk supply completely by 14 weeks. While some children wean due to the loss of milk my child, and many others, nurse straight through. Some women maintain some of their supply while others respond well to herbs such as those in More Milk Two that can help support milk supply.
2.Make sure baby gets a full boob. Trust Your Body and Your Baby had become my mantra. When I set out to tandem nurse I figured I would just latch each child onto a nipple and that would be that. It turned out it takes a little bit more coordinating than that. Once your baby arrives make sure that the newborn gets latched onto the full breast and that your child gets the breast most recently used. This can help (along with other things such as proper latch) ensure that baby is getting enough milk.
3.Build a fortress of pillows. Getting comfortable while tandem nursing is difficult. After nursing an older child you will have forgotten what it’s like to nurse a newborn. You’ll be trying to support two different sized people on your body. Pick a nice rocker or recliner and make this your nursing station. You’ll need pillows and pillows and did I mention pillows?
4.Beware of Nursing Aversion. I struggled with Nursing Aversion since my third trimester of pregnancy. It’s an ugly thing that you may or may not experience, but if you are overcome with intense feelings when nursing your older child don’t be afraid. Whether it’s hormones or nature’s way of making room for new baby just know you are not alone. You can read my full story here and read about managing it here.
5.Talk to your older child about this new breastfeeding relationship. Don’t shy away from discussing the new situation. While you are still pregnant talk to your older child about the new baby and that the new baby will be breastfeeding. Once the baby arrives it’s normal for your older child to feel jealous and anxious about the changes. Validate their feelings and let them know you are there for them.
6.Set limits with your older child. Even if you don’t struggle with Nursing Aversion with your older child you will find that you want to spend some alone time with your newborn. Don’t feel guilty, it’s normal! You might want to limit the number of feeds per day and duration of feeds for your older child. Validate their feelings of seeing a new baby nursing all day. Remind them of all the cool things that they can do that a baby can’t do like eat lots of different foods, run around and talk. And once again validate those feelings!
7.Take lots of pictures. You don’t have to post them on the internet, but you will certainly be in awe of the power of your body and the relationship between two people being built right at your breast. I have heard from many women that they regret not taking more breastfeeding selfies.
You are about to embark on one of the most intense journeys of your life. You will either love it and tandem nurse for years or dislike it decide to wean your older child. Either way you are an amazing mother and you should be proud of every step of this journey!
Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder