Tandem Nursing So Far

At a recent La Leche League meeting, one of the women told me that once you have a second one in your belly, you’re tandem nursing. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Possibly I just thought of pregnant nursing as something separate, but within the same realm.

So thus far it’s been interesting. I figured that Peanut would easily nurse through my pregnancy because she loves it, even if my milk goes away. No obstacle can keep this kiddo from nursing! I hadn’t thought that I could be the obstacle myself. I’m definitely not weaning, but I’m certainly not feeling like nursing. I find myself distracting her from it, telling her in a minute, etc. All these things that I had stopped doing now that I’m home all the time and we have the time to nurse.

As I’ve already talked about, I was hit harder with pregnancy symptoms this time than last. One of the earliest symptoms was sore breasts. Within a couple of days of getting my “big fat positive,” I started to be able to feel every single little movement she makes while nursing. I can feel every tooth. It’s more of a creepy crawly thing than a pain thing, but bleh. Jeepers creepers!

Then there’s the pain. If she pulls in even slightly the wrong direction, it’s gasping pain. I keep telling her that she can’t move around so much while nursing because it hurts mama. Sometimes she listens, sometimes she doesn’t. When she doesn’t listen, I tell her she can’t nurse because she keeps hurting mama. All of the pain and her wiggling around is just adding to my feelings of being “touched out.” Which brings me to point three.

She’s suddenly incredibly attached to nursing. She will stay on for 45 minutes if I let her and not even have a second thought. She doesn’t care what’s going on around her, she just wants to stay on. She doesn’t care if she’s not even getting milk (or much). Then at the end of that 45 minutes when mama tells her it’s time to stop, she Won’t. Let. Go. She has an absolute fit when I take her off. She’s even almost clamped down on my nipple when I stick my finger in to unlatch her and bitten my finger instead. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not letting her every time she asks or possibly point four.

I think my milk supply is already decreasing. I don’t know how quickly it generally decreases, but I’m almost sure mine is going down. She’s been night weaned for a few months now, but I still let her nurse in the morning once 6am hits. It’s always put her right back to sleep and I can get another hour or so of sleep, but lately it doesn’t ever put her back to sleep no matter how long she stays on. Then, of course, because of all of the other problems mentioned above, I can’t go back to sleep while she’s nursing. This is just compounding my already severe exhaustion.

Really though, the majority of the time it’s not a big deal. I’m still handling it. I’m not in tears and I’m not curling my toes. I’m doing my best to explain to her why she can’t do things or why I need to do to things and for the most part she’s accepting of it. I wonder if she’s going through a growth spurt or possibly the idea of a younger sibling is a bit scary. Either way, we’re sticking it out, at least for now.

My major issue with all this is biology. I feel that our bodies tell us what we should do and not do. Obviously the new mom should breastfeed. Her body “tells” this to her by filling her breasts with milk. Obviously we should co-sleep because mama and baby’s sleeping patterns align and babies need to nurse frequently. Our bodies show us what right. I believe that child-led weaning is right, but my body seems to be telling me otherwise. Is my body telling me it’s not good for her to continue nursing while I’m pregnant? Is my body, along with her obvious need to continue nursing, telling me I chose to get pregnant too soon? I don’t know what any of this means. I feel at conflict with what biology is telling me.

I’m trying to get a copy of Adventures in Tandem Nursing. Hopefully that will answer some of my questions. Until then, any advice?

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15 thoughts on “Tandem Nursing So Far

  1. In my opinion I think your supply is changing, hence all the nursing! New hormones give you the creeping crawly feeling. I think your body wants to wean and your 2 yo doesn’t. It’s not dangerous to keep going but it may be hard with those new feelings/sensations happening. Did you listen to the mother wear pod cast about tandem nursing?

  2. Your body is telling you that it is time to concentrate on the new baby. If you lived in a time or place where food was scarce, then that might mean you needed to wean. That is not the case though; you have plenty of resources available to provide for both of your children and yourself.

    Twenty plus years ago, I had my second child seven weeks before my first child’s third birthday. #1 nursed all the way through my pregnancy and until #2 was about 18 months, so I have been there. I experienced just about everything you are describing, although I don’t particularly remember marathon nursing sessions at that point.

    I am also a proponent of child-led weaning and both of my children nursed past their 4th birthdays. My automatic inclination was to keep nursing #1 and tandem nurse; I never really considered weaning due to pregnancy.

    Tandem nursing was much more of a challenge than I expected it to be. There were perks to it, but it was not an easy thing to do. I said at the time, that if I ever faced the issue again (I didn’t, I only have two children) I would not go into it so lightly.

    If I had another baby #2’s second birthday or so, I almost surely would have gone ahead and tandem nursed again. If it had been later though, I would have thought long and hard about it.

    My advice would be to:
    a) Eat well and get plenty of fluids to help keep your supply up as much as possible. Rest as much as possible.

    b) Make plans for alternate things for Peanut to do instead of nursing when it is not a good time for you. Snacks, other activities, Daddy time, etc. as the case may be.

    c) If possible, try to distract her with the other activity before she asks to nurse.

    d) For that early morning nursing, (which I was LOATH to give up) if you are not getting the rest you want from it anyway, consider trying to preempt it by getting up and giving her something she finds really yummy for breakfast.

    e) Think long and hard about whether you want to have a goal of weaning before the baby or tandem nursing. Really weigh the various factors involved. It can be rewarding, but it can also be a real challenge, so I always recommend that it something well considered, rather than taken lightly.

    Feel free to ask me anything; I’ll help where I can.

    • Well said.
      Infortunately, statically most children wean during pregnancy. Milk does change taste and supply generally decreases. Some children mind some don’t. Either way, it’s stil a relationship…both parties need to be happy to make it a good experience.

      • Luckily things are better lately. I think maybe it was a growth spurt. I realize that Peanut may likely wean during my pregnancy, but I hope not. I hope that we’re both able to continue and be happy about it. I’d love for Peanut and Twig to bond over mama’s milk.

    • Thank you! I think that your first piece of advice is something that has really helped me. I needed to remember that I’m not just eating for pregnancy, but for a nursling too. So now I’m eating to hunger, even if that means eating two breakfasts.

  3. I could have written almost the exact same post when I was pregnant with my second and my first DD was almost 2. All the feelings you are describing are so familiar. I slowly started to cut back on feedings when I was about 2 months pregnant, and eventually we were down to only once a day, right before bed (but not to sleep), and then she was completely weaned by her 2nd birthday (I was about 12 weeks pregnant then). It was one of the hardest things I have ever done and I was absolutely devastated. But our nursing sessions were no longer enjoyable for me and my hormones had my mind totally crazy. I had major creepy crawlies and I would feel very angry towards her and I hated that this beautiful thing I had always cherished with my daughter was being turned into such an awful experience. So for me, weaning was the right thing, but it was by no means easy and to this day I have severe guilt about it.

    At the same time, I also wonder about what our bodies are telling us. My body was very clearly telling me that nursing my almost 2 year old was not right for me. I felt like a failure because most of the mamas I know all tandem nursed through pregnancy and beyond. I wondered why I wasn’t strong enough to withstand the crazy thoughts I had and the anger towards my daughter when she was nursing. It breaks my heart to this day when I think about it.

    I personally did not find Adventures in Tandem Nursing very helpful, because I wanted advice on what to do if I had decided to wean and there was very little in that regard. It is a helpful book if you want to make tandem nursing work.

    • A previous poster mentioned that back in the time before food was so abundant, my body would be telling me to wean. It makes sense. Now I’m able to provide food for 3 beings, but my body doesn’t know that.

  4. Just take it one day at a time! It could be supply, but she could also just be going through a growth spurt. And in 3 months, everything will be different for a whole slew of reasons, so taking it as it comes is all you really can do. *hugs* because it is hard. You’re the mom and you know what’s right for your family!

    • Thanks! I think she was maybe actually going through a growth spurt. She had basically stopped eating food and was nursing a ton. Now she’s back to eating like normal and she’s still nursing a lot (like 8 times yesterday), but not for an hour straight.

  5. I just wanted to tell you I had the same problems when I was nursing and pregnant with #2. Both my DD are currently tandem nursing, my oldest is 27 months and youngest 4 months. Just today I finally got over that creepy crawly feeling you mentioned. I am not gonna lie and say my tandem nursing experience has been rainbows and unicorns, but the bond that my daughters and I have from it is simply amazing! Only mama’s milk can do such wonderful miraculous things 🙂 Hang in there and thank you for your honest post! Looking forward to reading more on your journey.

    • Thanks! Luckily things have been better lately. I’m really hoping for the two siblings to bond over mama’s milk like you’re talking about. I would just love that!

  6. I had much the same experience as you are, except my nursling was older. He was nearly 3 when I became pregnant, and I was determined to let him self-wean. It was agonizingly painful every time he nursed though, to the point where it made me cry. We were down to just nursing at morning and night at this point. He didn’t like to hurt me, so slowly weaned himself by dropping a feeding, then nursing every other day..then every 3rd day, and just stopped.

    I had dreadful morning sickness for this pregnancy, and between nursing and my morning sickness, lost 20 lbs in my first 4 months. When I was 16 weeks along, he stopped nursing, I stopped taking prenatal vitamins…and my morning sickness disappeared completely. I’m not sure how that all happened at once, but it did. I found out around this time that I was carrying twins also, and I figured my body could just not handle providing enough nutrition for all 4 of us at once.

    • That makes sense. Hopefully we won’t have to actually wean though. I’d really like her to continue nursing.

  7. Pingback: Tandem Nursing and Nearing the Third Trimester « The Adventures of Lactating Girl

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