I'm currently nursing my 3 1/2 year old and will soon be nursing a newborn. It suddenly (like at 5 am this morning) occurred to me that maybe this is something I need to think through or plan for in order to make it work?
My nursing relationship with DD started off rocky but has been a mainstay for her whole life. I'm currently pretty dry (I can hand express only a few drops of colostrum at this point) but she's still nursing 3-4 times a day. I'm sure she'll continue at the same rate, or increase, when the baby is born.
The baby is due 2/18 but I currently have placenta previa and it (unfortunately) seems likely that she'll be born by c-section some time in January-- which means my milk may take some more time coming in. I'll be home from work for the next 8 months so I won't need to pump. We'll co-sleep and nurse on demand (just as I did, and do with my bigger kid).
I've just been assuming that as long as the baby gets first dibs on the milk all will be well and that DD's nursing might even help things as she's such an expert sucker by now she may help increase or regulate supply. But, I then also remember that I had assumed that breastfeeding would be self-evident with DD and instead it was a frightening struggle for sufficient supply during those early weeks. And, pumping has always been a disaster. I just never made an abundance of milk. Instead, DD spent all her time nursing :)
So, I thought I'd check in here and see if anyone has any big picture advice to help us get off on this new tandem relationship on the right foot. Please share your tips or suggestions with me!
You might want to post this in Childled Weaning to get more BTDT responses.
Just as each nursing relationship is different, each tandem nursing relationship is different. What works for one person, definately does not work for another.
For me, I found it very helpful to have one time a day that DD (my older) *KNEW* she could nurse uninterrrupted for as long as she wanted. Each evening, I would nurse DS and then have DP take him so DD could nurse her fill. She still nursed a lot during the day, but there were often interruptions, I didn't want both kids nursing at the same time right then,etc... I think it was reassurring to her that that time in the evening was always coming, kwim.
Some women are comfortable nurising two at the exact same time, other's prefer them to take turns. Most women notice that their milk comes in earlier (because of the help from the older nursling) and there are not the same engorgement issues (since you have someone who can take care of it, lol). Some children see the newborn nursing and decide they are "too big" others see the newborn nursing and suddenly want to nurse 24/7. At one point, my DD's poop actually went to breastfed baby poop.
Also, don't be surprised by a weight gain in your older nursling. My DD gained about 5 lbs in the few months after DS was born. I have seen (online) children gain as much as 15 lbs (which I was shocked by, but the child ended up being totally fine) with the new, ample milk.
Personally, I thought Tandem nursing was wonderful. Remember that having a new sibling can be a hard transition for a lot of kids, so don't blame breastfeeding if you have some problems!
If you didn't have a c-section with your first, you might also want to investigate good postions for nursing after a c-section. Since your DD is older, you will probably be able to explain to her, in advance, that your stomach will be quite sore so she might not be able to nurse in certain positions for a while.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It's incredibly helpful for me in thinking through what is to come! I really like the idea of having a guaranteed nursing time for DD. I expect she may feel very jealous of having to share her "up-babas". As she and I are both planners, having a planned time will do much to ease anxiety or other hard feelings all around. Whenever we've talked about the fact that the baby will be nursing too, she's told me that she doesn't mind as long as she can have my left breast! Yeah... she knows left from right but calls it up-baba... seems strange sometimes :)
It's also really good to know about the potential weight gain. It never would have occurred to me!
I'm wary of talking through the fact that I'll be in pain after the baby is born too much right now as DD is already worried that I can't do many things I used to be able to do and we'll have to spend our first night apart when I'm in the hospital. But, I am feeling worried about how to protect the incision from big kid feet.
Thanks too for the suggestion of posting this in Breastfeeding beyond infancy. I guess tandem nursing always fits in that category :)
Before we got pg with DS, DD said we should have a baby. I said that it wouldn't work because she was still nursing. She, of course said the baby could have "that one" (the left)--- she would keep "this one" (the right--- which was definately my better producer).
My oldest was 3.5 when his brother was born. He had been in the ICU at a childrens hospital when I was about 7 months pregnant and nursed so much that I had a lot of mature milk when I went into labor. It changed over after the baby was born. When my milk came in I had too much milk and the baby was having problems. A LLL Leader suggested giving a breast to each child and each breast would make the milk that child needed. It worked! The oldest could only nurse if the baby was nursing (not every time) so I didn't feel like I was nursing all the time. Both have a life-threating genetic medical condition and breastfeeding helped. My oldest didn't get sick until my supply went down while I was pregnant. When he was in the ICU and I was already pregnant was the first time we knew something serious was wrong.
The oldest nursed until he was 6 and his brother until almost 5 (I couldn't make him nurse longer). Both of their conditions got worse after weaning and they had to have a lot of medical care their whole childhood. They only had a little over 50/50 chance of surviving 20 years. They are now 32 and 29 and doing great!
We slept together in a king size bed with the oldest in the middle of the bed and the baby on the edge. That way I didn't have to worry about my husband rolling on the baby. I was used to co-sleeping so I wasn't going to let the baby fall off. The oldest would only nurse at night if he was sick.
: Grandmother , 3 Adult Sons