Tandem Breastfeeding: The First Weeks
Currently, two members of the Daily Mom team are in the midst of tandem breastfeeding. After a lot of trial and error, a few tears, and many snuggles with our little ones, we realized that everyone should know about the products and resources that helped us during our first few weeks of tandem breastfeeding.
Compared to the nearly endless books and resources on breastfeeding in general, there really isn’t that much information out there concerning tandem breastfeeding. This can leave mothers hoping to tandem breastfeed at a bit of a loss. Nursing two children of different ages has great positive aspects, but as you may suspect, its own set of challenges. We found it helpful to have others to talk to and share experiences with.
Tandem breastfeeding is like the making of a diamond–it takes time and effort, but the results are worth it! Breastfeeding two children takes patience and endurance, so to help you along, here are some ideas.
Water, Water and more Water!
Yes, we know you get tired of the taste, but mix it up by infusing it with some mint or fruit. You can also make some iced (or hot) lactation tea or other herbal teas which do not interfere with breastfeeding.
Oats, Fenugreek, Goats Rue, and Brewer’s Yeast are a few of the many lactation supplements that can increase the quality and volume of your milk supply. Implementing these into your diet can help sustain a thirsty toddler alongside a newborn.
Nursing Pillows Galore!
Chances are if you decide to nurse both children at the same time, or even just sequentially, your arms are going to get tired. Nursing pillows, such as this one by My Breast Friend, can really help tired arms and will help keep your back straight.
You may be dealing with a nursing aversion when it feels unpleasant to nurse your older child. These feelings can wax and wane, and they may not ever completely subside. In these cases, it is helpful to nurse one child at a time, as well as to think about something else or focus on how beneficial nursing is from your toddler’s point of view.
Prepare Yourself for the Possibility of More Plugged Ducts
Drinking lots of water will help with this, but with all of the milk you are producing plugged ducts are more likely to occur (and as we have noticed, particularly at night).
The “What am I doing?” Moment
Don’t worry, you are not the first person to feel overwhelmed! With both children up at night, you may feel like you are constantly topless and smell like milk. You may plan for an hour just to get to eat your own lunch and find that small tasks suddenly feel insurmountable. You may even cry. We did. But remember you are not alone. Try to find out about a Le Leche League (LLL) group or other Mothers group in your area. Talk to a lactation consultant for more positioning tips and overall guidance, if necessary.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
We are not going to sugarcoat it: the first few weeks (or months) of tandem nursing can be hard! Don’t put pressure on yourself to get a lot of other things done around the house. Breastfeeding two children can also be exhausting, so try to take a nap when possible, or at least lie down.
If you decide to nurse both children at once, try breastfeeding in the “relaxed” position. Lean back on a few pillows and support your arms with pillows, too.
Enjoy the Snuggles
Even if your toddler becomes more clingy, try to see the positives: you are allowing your older child to reconnect with you in a way that is ultra comforting to them. So even if you are “touched out” by the end of the day, still try to enjoy the snuggles. Remember the bonds you are building: not only the bond between you and each of them, but their bond with each other, too.
Listen to Your Heart
As with breastfeeding in public or extended breastfeeding, you may receive unsolicited advice and comments. Just remember that you really are a super mom just by choosing to undertake breastfeeding two. Some of the best advice we can give is to follow your own instincts. You know your children and you know yourself.
For Your Infant:
Skin to Skin
Be sure to remember the importance of skin to skin. Include your toddler and Daddy, too, while you are at it! This not only helps your baby but can boost your oxytocin and your milk supply as well! Ask your toddler to count the baby’s little fingers and toes, hold hands, and give little kisses. These things will give them warm and gentle memories of being together.
Who Nurses First?
Discover a nursing groove that helps both children. Nurse one child on each side or alternating sides. A helpful hint is to allow your older child to nurse first at night, or if it has been a while since the last feeding. That cuts down on the “fire hose” effect, which can frustrate your newborn so much.
For Your Toddler:
Let Them Help You
Ask your toddler to help you by nursing to curb your engorgement. Your toddler will be more than happy to help you and to help the baby, too.
You can also ask them to do other small tasks which involves them such as getting your water or helping you with a pillow.
Encourage Positive Older Sibling Behavior:
Let your toddler discover all of the characteristics and needs of their new sibling. If you choose to only nurse one child at a time, then ask you toddler to point out the baby’s features while the baby is nursing. Ask him or her to sing for the baby or to put a blanket over the baby. The key is to involve them even when it is not their turn to nurse.
Another option is to have activities lined up for your toddler while you nurse your newborn. Consider Motessori activities, puzzles, or a few books to read–something to keep your toddler engaged while you make time for just you and your infant.
Support Systems and Resources:
Overall, we cannot say tandem nursing is an easy endeavor–especially in the first weeks–but there are some amazing benefits and we encourage any mom who is thinking about or starting to tandem nurse to not give up! You will be so surprised how many beautiful memories you will be left with.
Tags: babies, baby, breastfeed, breastfeeding, children, different ages, extended breastfeeding, helpful mom resources, infant, motherhood, natural, newborn, newborn baby, tandem, tandem nursing, toddler, two, two children, two kids
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