Question for those who have tandem nursed - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 02-26-2012, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm pregnant with my second child, whose due in August. When I told my OB that I was still nursing my two year old daughter at my appointment yesterday, she happily wasn't at all worried about the effects on the pregnancy. But she went into a whole lecture about how I should wean my daughter at least a few months before the baby comes, as she will feel displaced if I stop nursing her right when the baby comes. My OB is pretty conventional, and I'm pretty sure the idea of tandem nursing doesn't even really register.


Now I could actually care less what my OB thinks about this issue, but my husband--whose opinion I do value, and who I know has our daughter's best interest at heart-- was at the appointment, and afterwards he told me he agrees 100% with the doctor on this, and really strongly thinks we should wean our daughter before the baby comes. (It's unlike my husband to be so direct, so it was pretty obvious that this is something he's been thinking about a lot and very concerned with) I agree with my husband and OB that it is obviously a bad idea to keep nursing DD up until the baby arrives and then stop cold turkey as soon as the baby comes, but I'm not opposed to tandem nursing, so I don't see this as meaning I need to wean right away, and have been planning on just going off of her lead. But my husband thinks that tandem nursing will be disastrous for our daughter, and lead her to just be incredibly jealous and angry at the baby whose taking "her milk." I know that this is a possibility, but it also seems like it could be a helpful thing not a negative in the adjustment to the new baby. So I don't know.


Anyway, I think we could both use some more real life stories (fwiw, I've read, and may try to get my husband to read--Adventures in Tandem Nursing). So, if you've tandemed nursed, how did your older child react when the baby came? Are you glad you decided to tandem nurse? I'd love to hear both the good and bad. I feel at the very least I need to take my husband's concerns seriously, and really have some open communication about the issue.


Thanks for any insight!


 (cross-posted with August DDC)

Mom to DD (2/10). Expecting #2 in August 2012.

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#2 of 16 Old 03-02-2012, 07:34 AM
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Well I didn't tandem nurse...I did end up mommy-led weaning my 3 older children when pregnant, but this was more about me having discomfort while nursing when pregnant.  


I was involved with an LLL group for years though and knew many moms who tandem nursed and all felt nursing both helped with the transition and also made the siblings closer.

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#3 of 16 Old 03-02-2012, 07:37 AM
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My dd was older when ds was born (3.5) but yes, I tandem nursed.  It was never a problem.  Dd was sweet towards ds and more than willing to share.  It was a sweet bonding thing that they both could nurse.

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#4 of 16 Old 03-02-2012, 11:44 AM
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I've found tandem nursing has really helped with sibling rivalry. I highly recommend the book "Adventures in Tandem Nursing" by Hillary Flower. It's got great info.

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#5 of 16 Old 03-05-2012, 10:31 AM
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I am in the beginning of tandem nursing - my ds is only 1 month old and dd is 3.  DD is very affectionate towards her brother but has shown her stress at adjusting to a sibling in other ways.  The first fwe days were rough - she got sick while I was in labor (rash, throwing up) that we think might have been a psychological reaction to the baby.  She became extremely sensitive and would melt down over everything.  My usually cuddly little girl was keeping her distance a little more.  It broke my heart to see how difficult the transition has been for her


I am really, really glad we still have bf'ing - my milk dried up for the second half of my pg and dd was SO excited when my milk came in.  My preference would have been that she weaned herself during pg, but it was clear she wasn't ready to do that.  I think jealousy would be worse if dd wasn't nursing anymore - she hasn't had any problems "sharing" with the baby - we just talked about it a lot ahead of time and that the baby would need to nurse a lot and she could still have some too but she could also eat other foods that baby can't so she doesn't need to nurse as often as baby.


Before ds was born, DD had gotten down to nursing twice a day.  I was nervous that she would want to nurse 10 times a day like the baby but she didn't and is now content with 3 times most days and 2 times other days.  DH isn't really thrilled that she's still nursing but it was very obvious she wasn't ready to stop.  I probably would have encouraged weaning if she was showing signs of being ready to stop.


Good luck!

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#6 of 16 Old 04-18-2012, 01:40 PM
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my ds is 3 and dd is 7 months and i still tandem feed (well actually i am about to stop feeding ds thiss week ).
mostly it has been wonderful and i am very pleased that i did it. ds has coped very well with dd's arrival and has a very gentle and loving manner toward ds. he has never resented her having milk. even in recent weeks when we have talked about stopping any anger or frustration has been aimed at me not ds. he thinks its very right that she still gets milkand often will tell me she needs it.
i have only fed them at the same time sometimes as i find it quite intense. ds loves it when i do and calls it a boobie train! i have had many happy moments snuggled up woth them both feeding and holding each others hands. i am sure it has helped with their bonding

however there have also been days when it has been really tough and i have felt completely depleted of energy and very touched out. i decided that if i was going to tandem feed that i couldnt do it at night so ds has been nightweaning since half way through musmy pregnancy. personally i could not have coped with demand feeding two.

good luck with whatever you decide xx
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#7 of 16 Old 04-18-2012, 05:41 PM
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Well, my DD is 3 and my DS will be 1 this week, and we're still tandem nursing.  I know that the consensus around here on MDC is usually that tandem nursing is wonderful -- but my experience has honestly not been great.  


If I could go back and do something differently, I think I would have tried harder to wean DD before DS was born.  I just sort of assumed she'd wean on her own when my milk dried up, and then when I realized she wasn't going to self-wean, it was really too late to do any parent-led-weaning without her feeling displaced by the new baby.  I wasn't too worried about it, though, 'cause I assumed that we'd just tandem nurse and it would be a cuddly warm wonderful sibling-bonding thing and everyone would be great.  In some ways, that's been true.  But it's also created a fair number of problems.  


The first few months were REALLY hard.  DD started wanting to nurse All.The.Time.  Like, every time the newborn nursed.  And when I'd say "no, it's the baby's turn right now," she'd go ballistic.  It was not pretty.  This phased out in time, but it took quite a while.  And every time we've tried to put limits on her nursing, she gets really whiny or throws outright temper tantrums, shrieking, "but the BABY gets to have mama milk!  I want mama milk TOO!"  


Night weaning was a problem for a while -- DD was waking two or three times a night, wanting to nurse back to sleep, on TOP of the usually newborn night-waking schedule -- I was completely fried from lack of sleep.  This, fortunately, did not last long, but while it was happening it felt like an eternity.  


While she mostly does not nurse in the middle of the night anymore, DD does still nurse to sleep before bed, so it has put some serious limits on how much DH can do to help at bedtime.  Heaven help us if both kids are sleepy at exactly the same time, because both depend on nursing to get themselves to bed and they just scream uncontrollably if DH tries to help.  It isn't always a problem, but we've had some really difficult evenings because of this.  Would it be different if DD was weaned?  It's hard to know for sure, but DH is convinced that extended nursing is the culprit.  


That leads to one of the biggest issues, which is that DH is totally not on board with the extended nursing OR the child-led weaning OR the tandem nursing.  So he's been really unsupportive when I face challenges with the tandem nursing (like the above).   Extended nursing becomes the scapegoat for all sorts of disagreements between us, too.  I say, "she's being a picky eater," and HE says, "it's because she's still nursing."  Or I say, "I wish she would go to sleep at a normal hour," and he says, "it's because she STILL has to nurse to sleep."  Or I say, "I wish these kids weren't so needy today!" and he'll say "Well, if you'd just wean her, she wouldn't be so needy with you."  And so on and so forth.  Very tiring.    OP, if your DH is voicing his opposition now, you need to think really hard about whether you can face the challenges of tandem nursing without his support. That piece has been really difficult for me.  


I'm still a little hesitant to condemn it altogether, because there's been lots of good things for us too.  Certainly I love that DD still has that bond with me at 3 years.  Nursing is still a precious and special time for both of us to reconnect -- even more important now that there's another little one in the mix.  And from a purely practical standpoint, having two nurslings has been good for me -- my milk supply is practically unlimited, I'm skinnier than I've been since high school, and on the few occasions I've had trouble with engorgement or mastitis, I can depend on my toddler to be perpetually willing to nurse when needed.  


So, I'd say that tandem nursing isn't all it's cracked up to be, IME, but extended nursing has been wonderful for my little one and I'm not sure I'd change that no matter what the other challenges are.  



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#8 of 16 Old 04-19-2012, 05:22 PM
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I tandem nursed my two that are 22 months apart. couple of things that made it work well for us: dad did the middle of the night wakings for my toddler starting in my 3rd trimester, each one had their own side, so DD wasn't worried about there not being milk because DS was nursing. when DD asked to nurse while DS was nursing I would tell her after he was done she could, and always followed through. DD always got to nurse as much as she wanted at bedtime. I think they're going to be a little jealousy when the baby is nursing no matter what, just because it means that mom is taking care of the baby and not spending time with them. we read books or sang songs while I was nursing the baby so DD didn't feel left out. overall, my kids are best friends and we've had very little jealousy. and I'm expecting again and planning on tandem nursing again. 

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#9 of 16 Old 05-01-2012, 04:35 PM
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I'm tandem nursing my 3yo ds & 1yo dd. my son came very close to self weaning during my pregnancy but i didnt push it. He was so excited when my milk came back in. He would clamp on & i had a hard time getting him to stop. I think he was worried the milk would disappear again. He even went back to night nursing.
Just before he turned 3 i nightweaned him. It went well. Now he is only nursing 1X in 24 hrs, but he asks lots, especially when tired, hungry or thirsty. The asking drives me crazy. I'm ready for him to be weaned. I'm glad i nursed him this long though. Looking back at pictures from the last year he seems like such a baby. Now i feel like he's a big boy.
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#10 of 16 Old 05-01-2012, 04:51 PM
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Tandem nursing is great for sibling bonding and for the older child learning to share. IME it really helped the transition and the older child did not feel jipped out of mom's time. My one child that was weaned during pregnancy was a real pistol when the new baby came and at one point resorted to peeing in babies clean laundry. 

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#11 of 16 Old 05-02-2012, 12:21 PM
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These stories are great, very helpful for me (considering tandem in the future). Did anyone have any success with increasing milk supply while pregnant? My supply has decreased significantly, and I'm only 5 wks pg. My son is 21 mos, and he is not amused!

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#12 of 16 Old 05-15-2012, 03:31 AM
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I don't know if there is anything you can do to up supply when pregnant, I personally wouldn't try.  My son almost weaned when I was pregnant & he was the same age as yours.  I think self weaning at that point would have just as many benefits as tandem nursing.  I would suggest just go with the flow & see what happens & don't worry eithercwayZ

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#13 of 16 Old 06-11-2012, 12:32 PM
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I tandem nursed my kids.  It greatly reduced my older child's jealousy of the new baby, and it created a bonding experience for them.  It greatly facilitated my daughter's adjustment from only child to sibling.  If I had weaned my older child before she was ready and then the new baby got *all* the milk, that would have increased sibling jealousy and it would have had a (possibly life-long) impact on their relationship.  


My daughter absolutely fell in love with the new baby when he was born.  They still have a very strong love for each other and I know they always will.  I am so glad I tandem nursed them.  



Edited to add:  I also breastfed during the pregnancy and my milk did not dry up.  I drank plenty of water, ate when I was hungry, and I also took some herbs that support lactation.  You might still be able to get an herbal product called "More Milk Plus" or "More Milk Two."  I think what I drank was an herb tea called "Tea for Two" but I don't know if you can buy that anymore.


I have to take issue with the statement that weaning is just as beneficial as continuing to breastfeed.  The longer a child breastfeeds by choice, the better it is for the child.  The normal range for human breastfeeding is from two and a half to seven years.  Anything shorter than 2 and a half years should be considered "abridged breastfeeding."  The world-wide average age of weaning is 4.2 years.  If they're young enough to ask for it, they're young enough to need it.

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#14 of 16 Old 06-13-2012, 11:00 AM
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I tandemed for 3 months from when DS2 was born when DS1 was 2.75 until DS1 turned 3. I agree with Comtessa that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I didn't want to wean DS1 because I couldn't bear taking away from him something that was so important. I tried once while I was pg, and it was so heartbreaking. I think I lasted 24 hours. DH was also a bit against the child-led weaning (and also used the nursing as an excuse for other problems, especially behavioral stuff -- now that he's older and is still similarly difficult, we have fortunately proved him wrong!), but that did not impact my decision. I just really did not like nursing while pregnant. It was very uncomfortable and I was gritting my teeth the whole time. Somewhere I read that someone's child would have nursed even if it were motor oil coming out, and that was the case of my DS! He just loved it. While pregnant, I limited the sessions to 2 minutes (with me counting -- sometimes less!).


So, when DS2 came, DS1 of course wanted to nurse. It was very hard. It's not that he wanted to nurse all the time, which he didn't, I just felt it very uncomfortable. His latch was very strong, his suck was strong, and I had some resentment about how he was so demanding about it. I totally felt touched out. So, I started talking about how he would stop nursing when he turned 3 because 3 year olds don't nurse. I prepped him every day, and helped him gently through the whole process. We only had about 2-3 sessions a day at that point. He really missed it the most right before bed, but we got through it, and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.


Looking back, I don't know if I would do it again. It mostly led to negative feelings on my part (resenting that he was demanding nursing). The good thing was that I was *READY* when we finally stopped (I was definitely not ready during my pregnancy). Once baby was around, needs and priorities had shifted. Dad was playing a bigger role with DS1. It just felt like the right time. I also don't know if it really helped with them bonding. It was a really tough transition all around for DS1, from being the center of my world to being one of two. It was pretty much h*ll for 3 months, and hard for 6. I don't think nursing played much of a role one way or another, it was just part of our routine. (though, I do distinctly remember a few 5 am moments where baby woke to nurse and DS1 also woke screaming he wanted to nurse. Now, that was h*ll!). I also never had those moments where I nursed both at the same time (rarely tried) looked down and saw them holding hands, or saw them bonding. So, for us, the only real benefit was letting DS1 nurse for longer.


So, as for you, if you are not ready to wean, I would definitely not recommend you do it! If you are open to the idea of tandem nursing, then you should go for it. Your OB does not have to know. She probably won't even ever ask you again. Your husband clearly has not had much exposure to it, but if you talk about how a lot of women do it, maybe he will open his mind. But, ultimately, it is between you and your DD! You have to do what you feel is right! All that said, you might consider night-weaning, if you haven't done that already, because dealing with nighttime nursing for two is just really a lot!!

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#15 of 16 Old 07-01-2012, 09:51 PM
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I have a lot of the same concerns. I'm due with our second DD in August, and DD1 is 26 months old right now.  I am planning to tandem, but scared that it will be very challenging, particularly because DD1 is a high needs toddler.  We are going to give it a shot though and hope for the best. 

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#16 of 16 Old 07-04-2012, 04:23 AM
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I tandem nursed my 2 oldest DS, now 13 and 11 years old.  It worked very, very well for the 3 of us.  My oldest wasn't jealous; they would nurse at the same time and he would hold his brother's hand.  I also worked from home, and nursed often while I was working, so my oldest basically nursed on the left side all the time so when the younger was born, he basically just nursed on the right side :-)  In bed, we slept that way too.  Ian wanted to nurse all the time at first, but that only lasted maybe a week.  Then he slowly stopped.  It was hard for him but he saw a Power Wheels and really, really wanted that.  I told him (without thinking) that only big boys have those and when he asked what does that mean, I said it is someone who uses the potty and doesn't nurse anymore.  He was about 26 months old at that time.  He was potty trained in 2 days, but took 8 months to wean!  However, every time he didn't he kept saying "I'm almost a big boy, right?".  Then when he stopped we had a ceremony, like in Star Wars IV.  I played the SW music had him walk down the stairs with people there and had him stand on a platform and give him a medal.  Finally, he got his power wheels.  I don't like equating doing something with a material reward, but it worked well in this instance. 


BTW - their dad didn't agree with anything I did - co-sleeping, nursing, homebirths, etc.  We are now divorced and I'm remarried to someone who does agree and have a 7 month old DS.  My advice, which you should take with a grain of salt, is that anyone who has people in your life who don't support your decisions think about how you are going to feel in 10 or 20 years.  Will you look back with regret that you didn't do what you wanted to with your children or will you look back and say you should have listened to others so there would be peace?

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