Tandem Nursing: Taking Care Of Mom Is Key!

We are running a series on tandem nursing this month on our blog and have recruited stories from great moms across the globe! You will hear stories about nursing while pregnant, challenges of tandem nursing and the joys of nurturing your babies. Our second story comes from Perceval. Taking care of mom is important for any new mom who has just given birth – but taking care of yourself when tandem nursing is doubly-important – read on to share in Perceval’s story.

by Perceval

I have two children, a son aged 14 months and a daughter aged 3 years 9 months. I tandem nurse because it’s what my children need and because I am happy to do so. Simple in theory, but a bit more complicated in practice.

It started getting complicated when I was pregnant. At that time, my daughter, then barely two, was still nursing enthusiastically. At first, I was still fine with it, but after a while, her nursing began to become excruciating. This meant that I had to limit her to two feeds a day, one in the morning, and one in the evening, counting her out to ten at each breast. I slowed down or speeded up the counting depending on how much it hurt. Nursing was particularly painful on the right side, because my daughter had latched on very badly on that side the day she was born. In fact, I had a small bruise from her enthusiastic sucking. From that time onwards, feeding on the left was always easier than feeding on the right. During pregnancy, I also more or less stopped nursing her in public.

Not everybody approved of nursing through pregnancy – my parents warned me that she would become jealous of the new baby nursing, the midwife and my Shiatsu therapist suggested stopping, but I was defiant. Nursing was something my child still needed, and we were both happy with the limits I had set. I was irrationally touchy about this, and continued to be irrationally touchy about negative tandem nursing comments well after my son was born. I had read Hilary Flowers’ Adventures in Tandem Nursing, which prepared me well for any arguments.

In the run up until the birth, I became frightened that my nipples would keep hurting and interfere with feeding the newborn, but commenters from the Livejournal breastfeeding community reassured me.

breastfeeding_infant_wikipediaIn fact, the pain was gone the day I gave birth – feeding my son did not hurt at all. Even better, I was now equally able to nurse from both breasts. Fantastic! During pregnancy, I had been fantasizing about feeding both children at the same time, trying some of the interesting positions in Hilary Flowers’ book, Adventures in Tandem Nursing. But this was not to be.

For my daughter, nursing is a special time where she can cuddle with mummy, getting both physical and emotional nutrition.

So I was feeding both kids in shifts. Early on, I established some ground rules: My daughter could nurse in the morning and at night, my son had unlimited access to the breast, since he was the baby and needed the nutrition. I soon learned to try and feed my son before my daughter, because she was expert at draining my breasts, and would not rest until she had done so. Engorgement and letdown were never a problem. My son thrived and put on weight exactly as he was meant to, straight on the curve.

What I underestimated was the toll on myself. I had a severe episode of baby blues shortly after my son was born, which was helped enormously by supplements and time. I lost a lot of weight, going below my pre-pregnancy weight. Then, I started to do bits and pieces for work. And my son kept waking a couple of times per night (he still does). My daughter started waking in the early morning for a nurse. As my son turned one, I finally realized I had come down with post-natal depression.

Did tandem nursing cause my depression? No, but it was one more stress on my system that was depleting me of vital nutrients. I had underestimated the need for excellent nutrition and sufficient rest.

Am I still tandem nursing? You bet. Both my children still need and want to nurse, and I am still happy to give them what they need. But I am much better at taking care of myself in the process. And I do like all the extra pieces of cake I can still eat ;)

Perceval is an academic at a Scottish University. She’s happily married with two wonderful children, a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son. She blogs and comments in the blogosphere pseudonymously.

Have you tandem nursed? Have you dealt with post-partum depression? We’d love to hear your story. Please leave a comment below!

The photo featured in this post is from the Wikimedia Commons.

Commons is a freely licensed media file repository.

6 comments to Tandem Nursing: Taking Care Of Mom Is Key!

  • Perceval, I enjoyed reading your story and how you overcame difficulties.

  • Paula

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m currently 7 months pregnant and some days the pain of my son nursing is just so bad that I am too feeling afraid that I won’t be able to nurse the newborn and you’ve just helped to ease my fears. I now look forwards to sharing my love for three babies and hopefully the weight loss…woo!!

    xooxoxox

  • Krista

    How on earth can I tandem nurse when I can’t even get my poor body to ovulate when only nursing twice a day???

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think that so much of tandem nursing is ‘hidden’ in our culture, so this series is really valuable.

    Amber’s last blog post..Maternity Leave in the Netherlands

  • Thank you so much everybody for your comments! Re the weight loss – your mileage may vary. My weight loss was relatively gradual, same as after my first child. And Krista, FYI, I appear to have ovulated again. I’m a bit sad about this, since I really enjoyed the time without periods, but I go for up to 10 hours without feeding on three week days, and that probably did it.

    perceval’s last blog post..null

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