By Paala Secor
I am currently tandem breastfeeding by two daughters, who are two and four-years-old, while 9 months pregnant. Am I the only one a little surprised by that statement? I’m in a place in my parenthood journey that I never thought I would be, a niche I didn’t even realize existed, much less was possible just a few years ago. So, because it is such an unusual, yet normal place to be, I am writing to share just a little bit of my story to help others who may be thinking of nursing through a pregnancy and tandem nursing past infancy. It most certainly can be done and it’s been so very rewarding for my girls.
My breastfeeding journey began like many others. After my first child was born I figured I’d breastfeed. Why not? It’s free, right? I had a goal of six months or a year in my mind and then would wean after that. When my toddler hit a year and I became pregnant with my second child, she clearly wasn’t ready to quit, my milk didn’t dry up, and I’d read about the benefits of breastfeeding past infancy so I nursed through my second pregnancy without many issues.
After the birth I began tandem nursing my 21-month-old and my newborn, my paradigm shifted. I didn’t know anyone else in my group of friends or family who had ever tandem nursed but it seemed so right. Seeing my daughters bond those first few day, weeks, and months was priceless. Of course there was an initial adjustment period and I had to learn how to nurse two at the same time and how to handle my older child wanting to nurse like a newborn again, but we settled into a nice groove. When I had issues with nursing aversion, which popped up again during my current pregnancy, I was able to get through it thanks to a support group online.
By the time my youngest was a year old, my girls held hands, smiled at each other, giggled, and laughed when they nursed together. My eldest learned how to say one side was hers and she shared the other side. I didn’t need to do anything special to boost my supply. My body just worked on supply and demand. My children learned how to share me without jealousy and keeping them both in my arms helped me adjust to and meet both of their needs at the same time.
When I reached this beautiful point in my breastfeeding journey, I wondered why more pregnant ladies with babies and young children who were not ready to wean didn’t just nurse through their pregnancies as well. After finding a community of mothers breastfeeding multiples online, I realized that many of them had received advice from their care providers or pediatricians to wean for one misinformed reason or another. The reasons I’ve heard, which are completely false, are that a mother must wean in order to become pregnant, she must stop breastfeeding at a certain point as to not endanger the fetus or the newborn or to keep the older child from becoming too dependent. My girls are both thriving, energetic, thoughtful little humans and they are both already talking about sharing their mama with their new baby sister who is due any day now! When she is born, we’ll be starting our adventures in triandem nursing. Am I worried about how it will go? No, not at all. We will find our way.
So, if you are reading this and considering breastfeeding through a pregnancy and giving tandem nursing a whirl, go for it! Breastfeeding until your child is ready to wean, even through a pregnancy or two, takes some serious commitment and the ability to brush off naysayers, but it is worth it, if it is what feels right for you and your family. You will find your own way to nourish and comfort your children with pride. Happy breastfeeding, mamas!
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