How I feel about Tandem Breastfeeding

Holding hands while tandeming

Holding hands while tandeming

Sometimes I think tandem Breastfeeding is the stupidest thing I’ve ever decided to do. Some days I downright detest it. If it’s not the stupidest thing I’ve done, it’s by far the hardest.

Sometimes, I think deciding to tandem is the best decision I could have made. Sometimes it’s beautiful. I feel proud of my decision to continue to provide breastmilk to my toddler even though her new brother is earthside.

But was it even really a decision? My period didn’t return until about 15 months postpartum. I had two wonky cycles and then I got pregnant again. Babe was in no rush to wean. She stuck with it when things were as dry as the desert. She wasn’t weaning on her own and I wasn’t going to force her.

So, at 27 months, she and her one month old brother are sharing “milkies.” It’s been… interesting.

One thing we tell ourselves is it’s ultimately going to eliminate some sibling rivalry. But to be honest, any drama from Babe is usually all about the “milkies.” She is learning each of them get their own turn. It’s not easy for her. She will tell me not to nurse the baby. But she will also tell me she thinks he’s hungry and needs milk. Sometimes she hits him. We have our ways of dealing with it patiently but it really sucks. I keep reminding myself it’s been only a month. Babe’s still getting used to everything and so am I.

Our first challenge was figuring out how to position ourselves so we’re all comfy. Papa was huge in helping configure the pillows just so. Mostly I was on my back in bed or in a big chair, kids propped on pillows to nurse to sleep. At first I always nursed them both at the same time. But eventually, the feel of both nipples being stimulated at once was making me insane. I was feeling hostile toward poor Babe. Not fair, she was there first!

I now try to minimize nursing both at the same time. I do this, usually, by getting the Bug to sleep first. Sometimes at nap time we go into Babe’s room and she plays with puzzles or toys until he’s down. Sometimes she gets to watch the Elephant show on my iPod while she lies beside us. I put him down near me and she comes over to nurse to sleep. While this is the ideal, nursing both at the same time is unavoidable. My kids mostly only fall asleep while nursing (though Bug is proving to already be more versatile than his older sis) so it’s a challenge to time things so one is asleep so I can nurse the other. Especially when I’m solo. Which is a reality for us.

The crappiest thing of it all is that our once nightweaned Babe has recently started waking at night and screaming to nurse. Not in a bratty way. In an “I really, truly need my mom,” kind of way. We’re of two minds on how to deal with is.

If I had really known what tandem nursing was going to be like, I can’t say it’s a decision I’d have made. More and more I wonder if we should have waited for a “more ideal” time to have another baby. Who knows when that time would have been. Would we have had to restart with breastfeeding and diapers?

The biggest thing I have to remember is that tandem nursing, in a lot of ways, probably saved our little Bug from serious health issues. We’ll never really know.

A month or even a week ago, I didn’t know how I was going to be the SAHM of two kids, tandem or not. But now I know I can do it. I can only assume this too will get easier.

This entry was posted in Breastfeeding, Tandem Nursing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Monica

    What you’re doing is amazing, not sure I could have done it! One day at a time. I nursed my monkeys 26 months and 30 months and that was my mantra ;)

    • Mamanaturale

      Thank you Monica. One day at a time… I think it’s one moment at a time! Breastfeeding aint easy!!

  • zvezda

    thank you for the honesty… I also think we lure ourselves into thinking we are making decisions, when sometimes, well, we’re not. Or at least, in my case: I have not decided I was going to tandem nurse, I made the decision not to wean E. (…). Anyways, as I said earlier, you are my heroe :)

  • Emily

    Thank you soooo much for sharing your story! I’m currently a tandem nurser myself (I hope it’s not tacky to post a link but I wrote about it for the first time last week and was super excited to see your post! http://www.simplysahm.blogspot.com/2013/05/to-all-nursing-mamas-extended-tandem.html) and it’s always comforting to know I’m not the only one who has a love/hate relationship with it. We’ve also had issues with our older daughter waking up at night needing to nurse. In the beginning I was so exhausted/drained/hungry because she pretty much gave up solid food for the first several months. We’ve definitely had out ups and downs over the last 6 months but it is (I think) getting easier overall…hang in there and way to go!

    • Mamanaturale

      Thanks Emily. Hearing from someone who’s a few months ahead of me in this adventure is very very helpful. I’d love to hear about how you dealt with your daughter waking at night. That’s where we are now and it’s killing me. Nightweaning is hard. Not nightweaning is hard. What did you do? I’ll go poke around your blog but please write back with advice if you have time.

  • hobomama

    It’s important to share honestly about our breastfeeding experiences. I’m with you on not having enjoyed tandeming but appreciating the other benefits. We’re considering another baby, and I’m not wanting to go through nursing through pregnancy and tandem nursing again. Which is not to say that the experiences wouldn’t be fine for another mama, or that this time might be better for me. Anyway, thank you for sharing so truthfully!

    • Mamanaturale

      Thanks for your comment. I hate that I’m finding tandeming so hard, but it really is. From the mamas I’ve talked to, they’ve said “at first” it’s hard. I have to remember I’m still in the “at first” part! I don’t think we will have another baby but I have already said if we do it will be years from now, when no one is nursing or using diapers.

  • Mercedes Donis

    When I was pregnant with twins I thought for sure I would tandem nurse them, but in reality I definitely don’t prefer it and try to feed them separately whenever possible. I do find that when necessary it is easier now than when they were tiny so if you do stick with it hopefully it gets better. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Mamanaturale

      Thanks for the encouragement. I went to a LLL conference and learned that “Tandem” actually refers to feeding to siblings of different ages. Whether simultaneously or not. Nursing twins is a category of its own! It’s awesome that you’re managing!

      • Mercedes Donis

        Oh! I knew that about different ages but didn’t realize it also applied to feeding two individually. Breastfeeding two individuals is a challenge regardless of age or timing, I’m sure! Two sets of needs and wants (actually three, counting your own!) and physically draining. Good luck in continuing your journey!