Monday, 24 February 2014

Tandem Nursing - Our Story So Far.

tandem nursing
Tandem nursing is when a mother is breastfeeding two different-aged children (siblings).
Tandem nursing wasn't something I set out to do, it just kind of happened. Even extended breastfeeding John wasn't on the agenda when he was first born but after months of struggling to establish breastfeeding, I wasn't prepared to pack it in without good reason. And, well, a good reason never really came along. Then I was pregnant with David and suffering Hyperemesis Gravidarum - the last thing on my mind was going through the stress of weaning a toddler when I could barely get out of bed! Finally there was the "we've made it this far, lets get right up to 2 years, as recommended by WHO" attitude that I'd now adopted.

By the time David was ready to make his d├ębut, John was (& still is) only breastfeeding twice a day - at nap time & bed time. Given that I'd be breastfeeding David 24/7 in those early days anyway, what was a couple more feeds thrown in? Besides, there was also the fear that if we packed it in with John before David was born, that we'd face the same problems establishing breastfeeding all over again. Not something I wanted to risk!

It made sense to give tandem nursing a go. And so far, it's been easy as pie. My biggest concern when we started was that John wouldn't want to share or that he'd increase his feeds, but it turned out my worries were inane. Aside from the usual obstacles faced in establishing breastfeeding (a little pain, constant feeding, engorgment...) it's been an easy transition to adapt to. John was even a god send in those early days of engrogment, saving me the trouble of having to express so David could latch on to feed. And my supply has kept up beautifully - I've even got enough milk to spare & will be donating to our local Milk Bank soon (more on that later).

There has of course been a few negatives in tandem nursing, although insignificant. I've actually only breastfed both boys simultaneously on several occasions and let me tell you, it's awkward! Breastfeeding John on his own can often resemble a scene from Cirque Du Soleil as it is but when I've got to ensure he's not kicking or climbing on David (whilst also twisting my nipple - ouch!), it makes for a slightly more stressful experience all round. We'll stick to separate nursing sessions for now! Plus there was the poops. John's poops to be specific. When David was first born and I was producing colostrum, John's poops showed it - the nutrition-rich, slightly-laxative milk, not only helped David in the digestive department but John too. But obviously, I was too busy feeding David so Daddy got the pleasure of those nappies! Thankfully though, John showed no real interest in increasing feeds which I believe in very common at the beginning of a tandem breastfeeding relationship.

For every negative though, there's a positive. Right from before David was even born tandem nursing helped me in early labour at home - both regulating my contractions & easing the pain. Isn't oxytocin great stuff? Not to mention how easy & natural breastfeeding was when David did arrive. Unlike with John, the pain was bearable (although still there - boo!) and my supply only took a week or two to settle down, which again was a nice change given the oversupply issues I had with John - seriously, I think I'm meant to be a wet nurse to an orphanage! There's also the fact that John's not been properly ill since David arrived, which again I can only speculate on, as it could be as much down to the fact his immune system has turned a corner after a year of attending nursery, but it could also be down to the immune boosting milk that's tailored to David which he too is benefiting from.

And then there's the emotional side of things, including the final step of John's bedtime routine, when we cuddle up after a story and settle him down for the night - even when David was a newborn needing my attention 24/7, I made a point of keeping this moment of calm between John & I. On even the toughest of days with two under 2, our last breastfeed of the day helps me remember that John's not such a monster after all! He's still just leaving babyhood himself & needs that comfort & closeness from his Mummy, just as much as David, albeit not as often. And it's impossible to know for sure (as obviously I've no comparison) but I do think tandem nursing has brought the boys closer together and taught John to share with his little brother. He's been very accepting that David only has milk so needs to have it lots & there's been no real jealousy or objection - my boobs are even referred to as "Dayday's mocks" (ie. David's milk) these days!
So where do we go from here? Well John's now 2 so we've made it to WHO's recommendation in regards to breastfeeding him and I plan to let him continue for the foreseeable future. Self-weaning is definitely on the agenda but if he's still going strong towards the end of 2014, I may encourage him to start stopping as to ease a little pressure from myself in preparation of returning to work. And as for David, I'd obviously like to continue down the same path as John and do at least 2 years, again followed by self-weaning. But as always with breastfeeding, we'll take it a day at a time.

I think it's fairly obvious I'm passionate about breastfeeding & I can only hope that our breastfeeding journey continues to hold such positive experiences in future. Hooray for boobies!


  1. Just letting you know that this post is among the featured this week at A Mama's Story. It's been pinned to pinterest and will be shared across social media. Help yourself to a featured button, and thanks for linking up. It was great reading about your tandem nursing experiences.

    1. Oh wow! Thank you so much! I've popped a wee button onto the bottom of the post and I'm looking forward to getting a read through this weeks Mama Moments. xo

  2. I tandem nursed my girlies!


I love reading & replying to all your comments. Be sure to drop me a comment if you're new here too! If I'm a little slow in replying then feel free to give me a nudge on Twitter (@amylorimer) or send me an email.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...