And The Answer Is…
As with everything experienced in our breastfeeding journey, there’s no predicting what direction this nursing relationship will take with MaiTai once his little womb-dwelling brother needs sustenance ‘on the outside.’ MaiTai is currently older than three years old and will turn three-and-a-half when his baby brother is born.
And he’s still nursing… technically.
Now at the beginning of my third trimester, he only asks to nurse about once per week. Sometimes I even forget this is a thing we still do (though maybe that’s just pregnancy brain…). To be honest, I feel relieved by the break! Three years of breastfeeding on demand… never missing a day until partway through pregnancy… the past year marked with nursing aversion struggles as my body readied itself to get knocked up…
Oy. I’m tired!
It’s nice to have at least one body part (mostly) to myself for a while. Pretty soon MaiTai’s little brother Julep will be like Velcro on my chest. Only time will tell if MaiTai will decide breastfeeding is ‘for babies’ and conclusively shut the breastfeeding chapter of his life… or, if the influx of familiar, gushing, sweet newborn milk will draw his constant interest yet again. I’ve heard of both situations happening; kind of a coin toss.
I welcome either reality and will do my best to support whatever needs my kids have when it comes to establishing nursing (for baby Julep) and continuing natural term breastfeeding/child-led weaning (for kid MaiTai).
So, although MaiTai reminds me he wants to drink the “new milk” that he knows I’ll make after his brother is born, there’s no ‘plan’ on my end. I’m just flying by the seat of my pants (a nice way of saying I’m just surrendering to the dictatorship of my hormones).
So What is Tandem Nursing?
Tandem nursing isn’t breastfeeding while riding a tandem bike! We’re talking about nursing more than one child. This is a bit different from nursing multiples though as tandem nursing involves children of different ages. (Just wanted to clear that up 🙂 ).
Do Tandem Nursing Mothers Just Have a Martyr Complex?
Well, no, because many times it’s actually easier to continue nursing an older child with the younger one as mother-led weaning is not exactly an easy task for anyone. How easy was it helping (or training) your child out of diapers and onto the potty (if that’s the potty learning method you used)? Whether it was easy or not, I’ll bet it took lots of patience, diligence and hard work.
The same goes for encouraging (or training) a child away from his oldest source of comfort before he’s ready. Sometimes for the mother of a new baby, it’s nice to be able to multitask and get a chance to kick up her feet every so often with both children safely in her arms. (No training necessary).
Also, it helps to have a child on call who’s expertly skilled in the art of milk removal to alleviate expected engorgement in the first weeks postpartum, or to soften the nipple for the younger baby who might otherwise have a difficult time latching. Plus, the children are more likely to take tandem naps, too (naps!! Enough said, right?).
For other mothers, such as those who find tandem weaning interferes with the family schedule or simply presents more challenges, it’s not an issue of martyrdom to allow the eldest to nurse. It’s a very personal choice that is the result of a different affliction: the mother complex, in which one does what she thinks is best for her family knowing that the best things never come easy.
As for me, this is about as close as I’ve gotten to tandem nursing thus far:
It was going well until he put his expressionless little ‘sister’ in a headlock.
Perhaps we need to work on ‘sharing is caring’ a bit more in our house? In any case, from those with more ‘live’ experience under their bras, I have learned that Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower is a must-read for real tandem nursers.
- Collection of tandem nursing stories from New Beginnings, LLL
- “The Official FAQ… Tandem Nursing” PDF by Hilary Flower, MA, and Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC
- “Tandem Nursing and Other Adjustments” – Abby Theurig
- “Tandem Nursing: The Challenges and the Rewards” by Tamra Orr
- “Would Weaning Make My Life Easier?” – LLLI