Tandem Nursing

tandem nursing

The Do’s and Don’ts of Tandem Nursing

If you’re an expectant mother who is still nursing another child, congratulations! A lot of moms who breastfeed stop after their child’s first birthday, so kudos to you for keeping it up!

You might, however, be wondering if you have to give up breastfeeding with your first child when the second one comes along (or your second child when the third one comes along – or whatever your situation may be.) There’s good news – you don’t have to!

Tandem nursing, or nursing two children at one time, will allow you to breastfeed both of your babies, ensuring that they get all of those valuable nutrients from your breast milk. Plus, you’ll enjoy quality bonding time with each of your little ones – and they’ll enjoy quality bonding time together, too!

Tandem breastfeeding is perfectly safe for you and your little ones. No, one child won’t hog up the other child’s milk. Why? Because a woman’s body is quite amazing, and her breasts have the ability to adjust and supply enough milk to meet the needs of both children. Nursing two children can also help to relieve engorgement issues for mom, too.

Lactancia en tandem 4
By Francisco José Galán Leiva
If you’re thinking about trying tandem breastfeeding, here’s are some tips that can help make the process as successful as possible so that both of your children can reap all the benefits.

The Do’s of Tandem Breastfeeding

First, let’s take a look at some of the dos of tandem breastfeeding…

Do consider order

If you want to breastfeed both babies at one time, you certainly can; however, if you prefer to feed one child at a time, make sure you keep order in mind. If you are feeding a toddler and an infant, feed the infant first. His nutritional needs are more immediate, as his only nourishment is coming from you. Your toddler, on the other hand, is also receiving nourishment from solid food and other liquids.

If you’re breastfeeding twins, feed the one who fed last, first, during your next nursing session.

With that said, if your toddler wants to have a quick suckle and not a full meal, you might want to consider feeding him first. The baby will take longer to feed, and your toddler may get restless.

Do experiment with positions

One of the keys to successful breastfeeding – even for just one child – is finding the right position. The same is true if you are feeding two at the same time.

Get creative and try some different positions. You might want to try cradling one and doing the football hold with the other, or cradling both. If you’re nursing a toddler, having him stand up while you cradle a baby could work for you. Don’t be afraid to bring in pillows, too. They can offer a great deal of support for your children, and for you. You might want to put a pillow under the child in the football hold, for example.

Once you figure out the best position, you’ll be able really find success with tandem breastfeeding.

Do take breaks

Breastfeeding one child can be tiring, and breastfeeding two can be downright exhausting. If at all possible, take naps when the baby is sleeping, and try to get the toddler to take a nap, too. Also, you might want to consider only feeding the toddler at certain times of the day to alleviate some of the pressure; once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once before bed, for example.

Do find support

Finding a lactation consultant who has experience with tandem nursing can be a huge help. This expert will be able to share valuable insight, and offer tips and tricks that will make nursing two children a lot easier for all parties involved.

You can also look into joining a support group, such as the La Leche League. You’ll find tons of great resources in these groups; plus, you’ll feel empowered to move forward with your tandem nursing experience.

The Don’ts of Tandem Breastfeeding

Now that you know some of the dos, let’s examine some of the don’ts when it comes to tandem breastfeeding…

Don’t listen to critics

Breastfeeding two children isn’t as commonplace as feeding one (and moms can face a lot of criticism about that, too.) Don’t be surprised if you hear people making inappropriate comments, or if you see some eyes rolling. Just let the criticism roll off your shoulders. You know what’s best for you and your children.

Don’t feel guilty

If are finding that tandem nursing is just too much, you might be thinking about weaning your toddler. Don’t feel guilty about it. Breastfeeding is hard work, especially when you’re doing it for two. Remember that you have devoted a lot of time to your toddler’s nursing, and you aren’t his main source of nutrition.

To ease the transition, have a talk with your toddler. Explain that he is getting so big and doesn’t need your milk anymore. Tell him how proud you are of him, and set a date for your last breastfeeding session. Make that last feeding session extra special by making it all about him; let your toddler choose where to feed and in what position, and let him nurse as long as he wants.

If you are fortunate enough to successfully engage in tandem breastfeeding, you are truly blessed. Remember to have patience, and above all else, enjoy this amazing time with your little ones. It will be over before you know it!

tandem breastfeeding

About the author

Tiny Fry PicSamara Kamenecka is a New York-born freelance writer and translator living in Madrid. When she’s not busy trying to mold her two kids into functional, contributing members of society, she can usually be found enjoying a glass of wine (or three), or eating ice cream straight out of the container. You can find her blogging over at Tiny Fry, and you can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.


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7 Things Breastfeeding Moms Never Want to Hear

breastfeeding

You Can Keep Your Thoughts to Yourself, Thankyouverymuch…

Overall, I’ve had a fantastic experience breastfeeding my son for the past 22 months, without encountering many negative attitudes. But that doesn’t mean it has all been sunshine and roses. The 7 people who said the following things to me are now a lot more educated about breastfeeding, and maybe a little scared of me. So, let’s take a look at the 7 most annoying things people have said to me – the things breastfeeding moms never want to hear.

7 Things Breastfeeding Moms Never Want to Hear

  1. You’re still breastfeeding!? Why yes, I am. Was it not obvious as you can see me nursing my son right now? The word ‘still’ rankles me more than you can imagine! I am breastfeeding my son, ideally until he weans naturally. I haven’t even reached the 2 year recommended breastfeeding minimum by the WHO. The word ‘still’ always feels loaded with judgement in this sentence.
  2. When are you going to stop breastfeeding? I like to tell people that I’ll breastfeed my son until he goes to college, just to get them to stop asking such inane questions. My decision to breastfeed is none of your business! The truth is, I don’t know when I’ll stop breastfeeding. I’d like to let my son wean naturally, but I don’t know how that will work out. Or what if I have a second child? Will I want to wean during pregnancy?
  3. There’s no benefit to breastfeeding your baby longer than 6 months. I’ve heard this a few times, and never from anyone with any medical expertise. Clearly, you’re misinformed. Breastmilk continues to be perfectly tailored to your baby’s needs as they grow and develop, and is often the bulk of a baby’s diet up through one year of age.
    breastfeeding
  4. You know, you don’t have to breastfeed. This one is one of the worst. I’ve heard this when complaining about a breastfeeding issue… whether it was nipple pain, frequent night feeding, or any other thing that crops up and makes you want to vent a little about breastfeeding.  To the people who have said this, you’re right, this is a personal choice that I didn’t have to make. However, I’ve made the choice to breastfeed and I’m just looking for a little empathy, which you are apparently incapable of giving!
  5. How are you going to get pregnant again if you’re still breastfeeding? To the people who have asked this, why are you concerned with my family planning in the first place? How do you know I want, or am capable of having, more children? And aside from that, while breastfeeding can suppress ovulation, it does not do so indefinitely. Should my husband and I decide to try for a second child, breastfeeding will likely not stand in our way. Would you like to hear about my monthly cycles and signs of ovulation? No? Then don’t ask me about future pregnancies.
  6. You’re breastfeeding a baby with teeth? My son teethed relatively early, and well before he was ready to start solids. This brought on the frequent and annoying question of how I could breastfeed a baby with teeth. I get it… before I had a child of my own I was a little skeptical about breastfeeding after the teeth came in. But the truth is, it doesn’t change anything! Your child might bite you a few times, but that’s it.

So, there you have it. Things I hate to hear as a breastfeeding mom. Have you experienced these annoying questions? Share in the comments below!

You might also be interested in these articles:

Common breastfeeding Questions snacks for breastfeeding very berry lactation smoothie

 


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What to Expect from Your First Period After Giving Birth

period after pregnancy

First Period After Pregnancy

Moms who breastfeed might not see their first period for some time after giving birth. (Mine returned when my son was about 15 months old). However, I started seeing signs that I might be getting my period soon when he was only 12 months.

The symptoms that I might start menstruating again were very similar to signs of pregnancy. I didn’t think I could be pregnant but I took a pregnancy test to check anyway!

period after giving birth

Signs Your Period is Returning After Giving Birth

  1. Acne – I am not prone to a lot of acne, but I do tend to break out before my period. That means I was acne-free all the way up until I started returning to a monthly cycle. I got my first pimple in over a year about two months before I actually got my period. I also dealt with acne on and off for those two months.getting period after pregnancy
  2. Cramping – This is a pretty typical event when you have your period, but in the past I never experienced cramping beforehand. Post partum, I now have cramps on and off for a couple of weeks before my period.
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  3. Bloating – I was unpleasantly bloated for almost two months before my period actually arrived. Pre-pregnancy, bloating was something that lasted a couple of days before my period. Postpartum it goes on much longer!return of period after pregnancy
  4. Tender nipples – This was the thing that most made me think I might be pregnant before my period returned. Breastfeeding suddenly became incredibly painful, as I’ve heard it can be for pregnant women. I blamed my son at first but he was latching on wonderfully. My nipples were just incredibly sensitive. Once my period came and went, the nipple sensitivity went away.
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  5. Dip in milk supply – I wasn’t sure I would notice this since I was not pumping at the time that my period finally returned. However, a couple of weeks before my period finally arrived I noticed that my breasts didn’t feel as full and my son nursed more often and for longer than usual. I have noticed this again in subsequent months and I seem to have a supply dip when I’m ovulating. My supply bounces back before my period (and then dips again – see below).

period after giving birth

What to Expect from Your Period After Giving Birth

  1. Heavy flow – Ok, this is not the most pleasant thing to write about but I’m going to be honest here. My periods postpartum have been much heavier than they ever were before I had my son.  In the past, super tampons were accidentally acquired in multipacks and they sat in my medicine cabinet unused. Now I have to actively buy and use the super tampons...

    first period after pregnancy

  2. Cramping – I mentioned this above – not only do I get cramps well before my period now, but cramping during my period is worse than it was before I gave birth. I was always lucky to have very light cramps. Now at least one day per cycle is spent in a lot of pain!
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  3. Lower back pain – This is closely related to cramping, but it was something I never experienced before giving birth. Now, my period brings be bad cramps and lower back pain. Having my period just makes me want to curl up around a hot water bottle for days on end.

    first period after pregnancy

  4. Tender nipples – This was a sign my period might be returning – I later realized my nipples are very sensitive around the time I am ovulating. Unfortunately, the pain returns again when my period arrives. This means I spend about two weeks of every month with a lot of discomfort when I breastfeed my son.
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  5. Dip in milk supply – I wasn’t sure I would notice this since I was not pumping at the time that my period finally returned. However, during my period I notice that my breasts don’t feel as full and my son nurses more often and for longer than usual. Once my period ends my supply seems to bounce back – my son nurses less frequently and my breasts feel fuller at the start of each feed.

I have only had my period a few times now since giving birth – I am curious to see if some of these symptoms dissipate as my body readjusts. For example, I could really do without the nipple pain! I will be sure to update this post in the future once I have more experience.

How did your body react to its first period after pregnancy? Did your period take ages to return or was it back after only a couple of months?

Thanks for reading! You may also like these articles:

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5 Tips to Breastfeed Your Child Beyond their First Birthday

extended breastfeeding

extended breastfeedingBreastfeeding Wasn’t Easy at First

If you’ve visited Fresh Milk Mama before, you already know that breastfeeding was a struggle for me. Those challenges are what inspired me to start this site with the hope of helping other moms breastfeed successfully. If this is your first time here, you can read a bit about the breastfeeding challenges I faced.

I wanted to quit breastfeeding many times, and I’m still surprised sometimes that I managed to make it well beyond 12 months breastfeeding my son. Very early on, it was often my stubborn personality that kept me going another day when I wanted to quit. As my son and I developed a better breastfeeding relationship we still had our challenges, but a few key things beyond being stubborn really helped me keep going. Read on for my suggestions if you are struggling but want to continue breastfeeding.  

 

5 Things that Helped me Breastfeed my Son into Toddlerhood

1) Learning to Breastfeed Lying Down

After the first few weeks of night feedings I was very eager to figure out how to breastfeed lying down so I could get more rest. While it works very early on for some mamas, it wasn’t until my son was about 3 months old that I mastered this skill.

Once I could breastfeed lying down, it changed everything! Night wakings were much easier to handle because I didn’t wake up as much from being in a sitting position, so I got more sleep in total. We could also have restful breastfeeding sessions during the day. And, this alleviated the arm and shoulder cramps I would get from breastfeeding sitting up.

Ultimately, my doula had to show me in person how to breastfeed lying down. The best tip she gave me was to position my son so he was eye-level with my nipple. I had been positioning him much too high so he couldn’t latch. The other tip was that I could breastfeed him from both breasts without flipping over to my other side! She recommend feeding first from the breast that was on the bottom. Then lean forward slightly to offer the second breast! This was much easier than turning over and re-positioning my son.

If you are struggling to breastfeeding your child while laying down, see this page from the Australian Breastfeeding Association for guidance.

2) Learning to breastfeed in a carrier

This was another thing I was desperate to learn. I like to go for walks with my son for exercise, and I also mostly carry him when we go out since we don’t have a car. Again, some mamas master this somewhat early, but we couldn’t manage it until my son was over 6 months old. Once we could do it, though, it was another game changer. I was free to breastfeed on the go!

I think this was difficult for us for so long because my son had trouble latching and also I couldn’t seem to manage putting on a nipple shield and then getting him latched in the carrier. I have had the most success now feeding him in my ergo – I just loosen the straps a bit so his head is level with my breasts and he helps himself. When he was younger I would hold my breast in place for him to latch and support the side of his head while he was feeding.

how to breastfeed in ergo carrier
Breastfeeding in the Ergo Carrier

There are a lot of great tutorials out there about feeding in a carrier. Here is one that I like. Also, I generally feed my son in the ergo, but this works with a lot of carriers/ woven wraps/ ring slings, etc.

3) Joining Breastfeeding Support Groups (Online and In Person)

Outside of La Leche League, I had no idea breastfeeding groups existed. However, I found several really supportive group on Facebook as well as a local group of breastfeeding moms with a chat group. These were amazing resources – anytime I had a question I could be guaranteed an answer within minutes thanks to facebook and the chat group. Plus, monthly La Leche League meetings let me connect with other moms and realize I wasn’t the only one faced with breastfeeding challenges. It was hugely motivating to know other women struggled like I did and also to have access to so much helpful advice whenever I needed it.

If you are looking for a breastfeeding support group, you can search for your local La Leche League chapter as a start. Also check with your hospital as they may be associated with a support group. Facebook is another place to search for online support. You can also see my article about breastfeeding support resources.

breastfeeding support group

4) My own sense of stubbornness (didn’t want to ‘quit’) + cheapness (didn’t want to pay for formula)

Early on, I cried daily over the pain and unexpected difficulty of breastfeeding. My family was supportive but reminded breastfeeding was not something I had to do. To this day I’m not sure exactly what drove me so hard to stick with it. I am stubborn by nature but I clung to the idea that I could successfully breastfeed very fiercely.

A secondary thing was the cost of formula and bottles. While this was only a small piece of my decision making, I did keep wondering why I would pay for formula if I had perfectly good breastmilk available. I don’t have anything against formula and I did buy a canister when I thought I would supplement a bit to give my aching nipples a rest. I never did use the formula because I opted to express some milk and cup feed instead when I needed a break from direct feeding. That allowed my nipples to heal and helped my vasospasm pain reduce a bit.  

breastfeeding beyond one year
My Back-up Formula Canister

5) A supportive employer so I could pump at work

I returned to work full time when my son was three months old. He was exclusively breastfed so I had to pump enough milk each day for the feeds we missed while I was working. My employer was very supportive and I was able to spend as much time as I needed to pump each day.

Without their support I’m not sure if I would have had the will to fight to pump because I was exhausted between motherhood and working. I eventually developed a good routine and came to look forward to pumping each day. See my tips for pumping at work here. You can read about the best breast pumps for working moms here

If you are living in the USA, your employer must provide you with the time and a place to pump. I was living abroad but working for a company headquartered in the USA, so I was able to take advantage and pump in a private room. What worked for me was to bring my laptop with me so I could do work while pumping. This wasn’t necessary but it kept me from getting bored and also helped me leave work punctually each day. I also had a tendency to eat lunch while I pumped. This was a little lonely but it helped me make sure I finished my work each day because my priority was leaving work on time.

I’m grateful to be breastfeeding in toddlerhood

I’m so glad now that I’ve continued breastfeeding my son. For example, it has been an excellent comfort for him while he’s sick. And it’s reassuring to me to know he’s getting good nutrients from breastmilk when he won’t eat his meals. Plus, we travel a lot, and breastfeeding him on the plane is a great way to either keep him quiet or help him fall asleep.

extended breastfeeding
Breastfeeding my 17 month old on the train

I do still get frustrated some days and feel like it’s time to think about weaning, but my goal is to breastfeed him to natural term when he weans on his own.

How long have you been breastfeeding? Do you plan to go longer than a year or until natural term? Share your experiences in the comments below.

See my other tips on breastfeeding older babies:

toddler breastfeeding tips    breastfeeding and teething tips to prevent biting

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Breastfeeding and Teething: 5 Tips to Prevent Biting

Breastfeeding and teething

breastfeeding and teething tips to prevent bitingWhat’s it like to breastfeed a baby with teeth?

A baby with teeth can put off a lot of breastfeeding moms. Before my son was born I would often say that I would breastfeed until his teeth came in. Once his teeth did come in and I continued breastfeeding, more than a few people looked at me with a mix of wonder and disgust when they realized I was breastfeeding a baby with teeth.

When a baby/child is actively nursing, they can’t actually bite you because of the position of their tongue. Once I realized this I felt a lot better about breastfeeding! A baby may bite during a breastfeeding session, but they physically cannot bite you while they are actively drinking milk. 

Biting can be quite painful!

Aside from the occasional (extremely painful) bite, breastfeeding my son after he started teething was no different than breastfeeding him before. My son also teethed relatively early, with his first two teeth coming in just as he reached 5 months. By then our breastfeeding relationship was pretty well established and I also wanted to exclusively breastfeed him until he started solids, so we chugged away with nursing as he teethed.

Having your nipple bitten while breastfeeding is incredibly painful. Much like I wasn’t prepared for the initial pain of breastfeeding, I was also not prepared for the pain of a bite! There are a few tactics to teach your child biting is not okay and to prevent future bites.

How can you prevent biting while breastfeeding? 5 Tips:

1. Unlatch him or her. If your nursling bites you, unlatch and gently but firmly say something like ‘Biting is not okay. Biting hurts mommy.’ If they don’t understand your language, they will understand that biting means no milk and they will generally learn quite quickly.

2. Pay close attention. If you think your child is about to bite, slip your finger into his or her mouth so your finger gets bitten instead. Since a baby can’t bite while actively nursing, pay close attention so you can be prepared if they try to bite.

3. Avoid yelling or other dramatic reactions. This will be hard when you’re in pain, but dramatic reactions can actually encourage your child to repeat the biting behaviour to see the same big reaction again.

4. Remember, while actively feeding, it is impossible for your child to bite.  This is because of the position of their tongue. If you have been experiencing biting, pay attention as they finish a feed and unlatch them before they can bite.

5. Check the cause of biting. Your son or daughter may bite if the milk flow is too fast – if you have an overactive or fast let down, you can unlatch your nursling as your milk starts to flow and then allow them to latch back on once the flow is a bit slower.

When I look back now, I laugh at how I was intimidated about breastfeeding my son after his teeth came in. Teething did add a bit of a challenge, but it has been very manageable and I would encourage anyone who is hesitating to continue breastfeeding after teething to try it!

You might also be interested in these articles:

toddler breastfeeding tips snacks for breastfeeding quit breastfeeding

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