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Quote:

Originally Posted by wednesday
IMO if tandem nursing happens, it happens, but I will confess I am put off by the vibe I sometimes pick up on here of mamas who seem to feel like they won't really have earned their AP badge until they have tandem-nursed.
SO TRUE!! What's with the point system for the AP badge? How many points for nursing at all? What about for nursing for 1,2,3, years? Tandem nursing? And do I lose AP points because I intentionally weaned my 4 year old while tandem nursing with my 4 month old? Hmm... so much to ponder!

Anyway - I doubt that tandem nursing is natural. I hated it, honestly. So, I stopped.

But if the average kid worldwide nurses until 4.2 years, is that how far childrean are spaced on average?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ~*SugarMama*~
I don't see why tandem nursing WOULDN'T be natural. After all, that would be like saying that a mother of a multiple shouldn't breastfeed her children because there are more than one.
I don't think that's relative, actually. Perhaps one of the reasons it's unnatural to nurse a baby and older child is that they need/demand different milk. Infant milk and toddler milk are very different. But with twins, they have the same needs.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by OnTheBrink
I don't think that's relative, actually. Perhaps one of the reasons it's unnatural to nurse a baby and older child is that they need/demand different milk. Infant milk and toddler milk are very different. But with twins, they have the same needs.
I find this line of thought interesting. Babies and toddlers do have different requirements of breastmilk. I think this could be used as an argument that tandem nursing is natural. A woman's body/breasts are capable of making different milk for different aged children...and determining based on who is nursing, what those needs are. So in this sense, we could say that our bodies are designed for tandem nursing - hence it is natural.

Another thought on the average world age of weaning at around age 4 yrs.....the !Kung generally have children every four years. So, if their children are weaning when they are just over 4 yrs., they would at least be nursing through pregnancy.

As an ecologist, I am finding this thread very interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
In Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, anthropologist Marjorie Shostak reports:

"The !Kung infant has continual access to the mother's breast, day and night, usually for at least three years, and nurses on demand several times an hour... The first real break from the infant's idyll of comfort and security comes with weaning, which typically begins when the child is around three years of age and the mother is pregnant again. Most !Kung believe that it is dangerous for a child to continue to nurse once the mother is pregnant with her next child... Children are likely to be miserable during this period and often express their displeasure quite dramatically..."

Nisa goes on to describe how her earliest memories (like many others in her tribe) are of the sadness she suffered while weaning.
 

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I don't honestly see how nursing tandem WOULDN'T be "natural' I mean, it happens. Sure, not everyone or every culture has done it, or has had the need/want/opportunity too. But it HAPPENS. It uually doesn't harm the mother or child, and can be very helpful actually.

I just don't understand the argument that it is evolutionary. Who is to say if women did it since time began? I think if we were NEVER meant to feed more than one baby at a time, then we would only need one breast. But it just do happens, we have 2 that are capable of making milk at the same time, etc etc.
 

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If you can show me a thread that a bunch of Bovine/Primates started, discussing this same topic, I promise I wont tandom nurse when I get the chance!

I've seen mama cat's swat there babies away (Very Hard.) from nursing-it was "natural". Ummmm...I'm not doing that.

Follow your hearts and heads mamas-WERE DOING GREAT!

"I have nipples Greg, can you milk me?"-Jack from "Meet the family"
 

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It is hard to argue with the logic that most --if not all-- mammals wean their nurslings when they become pregnant again. The only exception I know of is Kangaroos but, interestingly, they are able to produce Newborn specific and "Toddler" specific milk at the same time.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to say with certainty what humans would do in "traditional" cultures since there are so few surviving traditional cultures. The book "Adventures In Tandem Nursing" does mention two that come close (the names escape me). If I remember correctly tandem nursing did occur in one known traditional culture (possibly non-existent now). It doesn't occur widely in the other culture, which still exists, primarily because this culture is in a part of the world where diarrhea is usually fatal for the very young. So when a toddler drinks milk designed for the newborn and their stools become soft like a newborn's there is a misperception that they have diarrhea and the obvious solution is not to let them nurse, despite the fact that this culture values extended nursing and mothers will nurse children as old as 12.

Others here have commented on the pregnant/nursing & tandem nursing heebie jeebies. Obviously that is an important factor. It is easy to speculate that this may be mother nature's way of protecting the pregnancy. I suppose that is theoretically possible in some pregnancies. However, speaking from personal experience, I am now 34 1/2 weeks pregnant and still nursing 20 month old DD1. I have been very fortunate not to get the creepy crawlies so I hope to hang in there until DD2 is born.

Other than the "heebie jeebies" the only real obstacle to tandem nursing, that I can think of, would be nutrition. That is probably less of an issue in Modern America than it would be in any "traditional" culture.

Anyway, I don't have an itelligent opinion on whether there is strong precedent in human history or not for tandem nursing, but I certainly don't believe it is "unnatural". I also believe that depending upon the Mom, and her family circumstances, that tandem nursing is possible and should be supported if that is what the Mom wants.
~Cath
 

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Humans develop differently, slower than most animals.
Many animals are adults by the time they are a year or so.
So while it may not be common or normal, I can understand why it happens. Some babies are ready to wean at 18 months, while other children can take years. Pregnancy can happen for us every 9 months, so it won't always be possible for a baby to be ready to be weaned by then. Yes, milk dries up, but not always, not for everyone. And yes many women don't ovulate while EBF, but not always, not everyone.
 

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Well, I came here to do some reading on tandem nursing since I'm gonna miss my LLL mtg tomorrow and found this right at the top!

In response to the OP - tandem nursing is absolutely natural in primate societies. I observed vervet monkeys for 10 years as a behaviorist and specialized in mother/infant contact analysis - we had codes for a variety of behaviors including nursing / tandemnurseyoungestsib / tandemnursednextyoungestsib etc etc etc. When momma's got milk you can see the older children reconnecting through latching - maybe not true nursing - but definitely mouth-nipple contact. We 'thought' that the older kids would try and reconnect with mom to maintain her loyalties in a matrilineal society where momma's rank determined how well you ate etc.

Hopefully everyone does what is comfortable to them - their are no AP badges or rights and wrongs in all this - just do what makes you happy so that happy vibes are what you and your child are exchanging - not resentment, pain or anything else that is negative . . .
 

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That's interesting, mntnmiss... my primate observations (although ad lib on this topic only) did not really show tandeming, at least not in the way I usually think of tandem nursing. Mouth-nipple contact, a quick suck, etc was not uncommon (even with other adults), but I didn't see extended, long term continued nursing of an older sibling as well as a newborn (other than in once case for the period of time before the older sibling was strongly encouraged to wean). I'd be interested to hear more about your data... perhaps there are species differences? Or it may depend on individual circumstances such as birth spacing?

I agree with the PP's that everyone has to do what feels right for their individual circumstances and not worry how many AP "points" they have!
 

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This might have been mentioned, but I think it may not be common in other cultures or in the animal kingdom, but that might be related to spacing between births... at some point, the need to nurse does lessen and it makes sense, biologically speaking, to wean.

My dd is only 2.5 years old, and she is not ready to wean. So though it might be unusual for me (in our culture today, or biologically-speaking) to be tandem nursing, her need to nurse still is such that I chose to tandem nurse. And biologically-speaking, it is VERY adaptive for me. I have over-active let-down and over-supply that made the first 4 months of nursing my first daughter VERY challenging. Things are going much better this time around with my new baby b/c I have a toddler to relieve engorgement and take care of my extra supply. Also, my new baby gets more of my energy/attention b/c I am able to still nurse my first dd to sleep quickly and efficiently... she is a sleep-fighter so without nursing it takes FOREVER to get her to go to sleep, and that wouldn't be good for the baby at all, or the peace & harmony in our home!
 

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I don't know how "natural" or "un-natural" it is --- but then again I'm not living in a natural environment (our societies and lifestlyes have changed far faster than our biological make-up. I do think that our lifestyle (not as active) and easily accessible food (we don't HAVE to grow it all ourselves or go hungry if there's bad weather) has allowed many woment to ovulate despite exclusively nursing -- which might not "naturally" happen.

I tandemed nursed my first two because at 18mths DS wasn't ready to be weaned - he continued to nurse til he was 2 and 3/4 when I found out I was pregnant with #3 and decided he needed a bit of gentle pushing to wean.

My DD is almost 21mths and nursing is still very important to her - there are down-sides (annony things) about tandem nursing but in our case I feel the benefits outweight the negatives. So, I won't be pushing her to wean at least until she's 2plus...

Besides, I don't think I'd be weaning her right now if it wasn't pregnant so I don't like to think that she's being denied something that she would normally be getting just because there's a new baby.

Natural, hmmmmm..... one more thing, I remember years ago seeing some nature documentry on National Geographics I think about tigers. Anyhow, the mother tiger had a cub who was maybe 6mths old - old enought to be trying to see how she hunted and follow her around and the two of them ran into her previous cub (maybe from 2 years ago - I think tigers take about to 2yrs to grow up and try to be mature hunters) anyhow, the 2+yr old cub was a female ( perhaps a male would have not been approached by his mother who now had a new cub) and the mother allowed her older daughter to nurse!?! It was just a brief meeting and wasn't documented to have happened ever again - just a sort of "oh my gosh MOM" I missed you kind of thing and they were very happy to spend time together (for the day) and then it was back to their lives. Just kind of interesting -- I wish I could remember more of the details about the show because I watched it YEARS ago = way before having kids or even thinking about breastfeeding.
 

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This is a very interesting thread and a relevant topic to me as I nurse through pregnancy. I got my AF back right after dd was born and bam! pregnant when she was 10mo and I was EBF. I never even thought of weaning her - but then again I never thought I'd BF for over a year in the first place!!!
For now things are fine - no feelings of needing to quit because I am creeped out, no milk drying up...we'll just have to see how it goes once I have this baby!

I know this didn't answer the OP's question but I couldn't read and not post!!!
 

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I think kangaroos tandem?

It's not "natural" for me to have fallen pregnant when my daughter was a nursing six month old, but I did, probably because I am so well nourished. It's not "natural" for kids to be weaned as early as we do in our culture. It's more "natural" for my two and a half month old to be nursing, and the fact of her having a 15 month old brother is what is more unnatural.
 

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Jessmcg, I like your cow stories. Also, I think it's neat looking at your sig. My daughters are Abigail (3.5) and Geneva (15 mos) but she has been called genevieve on more than one occasion.

Tatermom, I really liked your post as well. It makes sense to me.
Mntnmiss, and all the others too who have actually observed animals - like to hear it.

Kangaroos, I remember reading in "Adventures in Tandem Nursing" have separate breasts: one for newborn and one for older nursling.

I don't think we are biologically designed for tandem nursing, but I see nothing wrong with making that choice. I did it, but it didn't always feel right. I think my dd2 got less colostrum because of it, not because I didn't nurse her first in those first few days, but because my milk came in almost right away. I actually read once (in a local newspaper's health column) that there was a study in Australia that showed this can be the case: reduction in colostrum for next child. Dubious source, I know, but it matched my experience.

I had more to say but I gotta go
 

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I am loving this thread! I have to admit I have questioned this myself. My dh also believed that the nipple pain and low supply during pregnancy could be signs I should have weaned. I have to admit I did NOT enjoy nursing while pregnant but I knew it was important for my son so I continued. I am now nursing my 4 month old twins along with my 3 year old toddler. Even though he is receiving "infant" milk, I still believe he is being nourished with the best possible nutrients. I really can't say if tandem nursing is natural in the sense that we were designed to do it. But I think a mother's instinct is very real and if your instinct is telling you to tandem nurse, then do it. Nursing infant twins and a toddler may not be natural, but to me it was the natural thing to do, if that makes sense.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Pam_and_Abigail
Jessmcg, I like your cow stories. Also, I think it's neat looking at your sig. My daughters are Abigail (3.5) and Geneva (15 mos) but she has been called genevieve on more than one occasion.

Thanks! My Genevieve gets called Geneva many times
 

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Well, not MY data, my bosses - but we did study specifically nipple contact and how often and how long the contact was made. Truly tandem without a doubt.

I'm reminded by how much I hate the term 'natural' in regards to ANYTHING to do with parenting. I find it to be pretty critical to claim that one thing is natural since you are clealy saying that by not doing that you would be doing something unnatural KWIM . . .

Anyhow, I'm of a mind that comfortable and happy parenting no matter how it is achieved is what is best!
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
Wow. I've learned so much from this thread! I'll admit that when I wrote the OP, I really knew nothing about tandem nursing.
I'd never heard of milk drying up during a pregnancy or that "icky" feeling women sometimes get when nursing while pregnant... (I only have 1 DC who's still nursing avidly at 12 m.o.) I also didn't realize how much closer our children are spaced relative to more traditional societies and how that influences our children's need to tandem nurse.

I agree with many other posts that the word "natural" is tricky and ambiguous, but I still think it's important. When DS was first born, BFing was very awkward and I felt very uncomfortable using a sling. In both instances, it helped me to remember that women throughout the world nurse and wear their children. It became my mantra that my body was made to do these things...

It's interesting to think of CLW as a sort of luxury of modern life. But it seems like a good one. And if tandeming works for a family, then it's a positive thing. But if a mother truly feels uncomfortable, it seems that there's significant evidence that there's a biological basis for her discomfort and not just a social one...

Personally, I hope DS weans himself before we even think about TTC #2. He was a classic marathon-nurser in his first two months (he gained nine lbs!) I honestly can't imagine how a toddler would have made his way onto my lap!
(BTW, about having two breasts... Those first two months, I was convinced I had two so that one could re-fill while he was emptying the opposite side!
)
 
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