Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blog Carnival: Tandem Nursing a Baby and Toddler

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public ("NIP"). See the bottom of this post for more information.


Tandem Nursing a Baby and Toddler.

My second child (the Imp) was eleven months old when I became pregnant again. Many people thought we should wean. I cannot even begin to tell you the looks of utter disbelief I received when I declared that we would continue nursing throughout my pregnancy and beyond. "You won't be able to handle it" I was told. "There's no way you can do that" complete strangers exclaimed. Even my obstetrician was concerned. I stuck to my convictions, assuring her that I'd done the research. I knew the "risks" of pre-labor and that I was competent enough to seek help if I felt it was needed. My pregnancy was not high risk, there was little reason to be concerned.

We nursed without any problems throughout the entire pregnancy. I didn't experience the soreness some mothers report. I never felt that he was asking too much of me. Instead, it was a blissful peace in our otherwise crazy days. We could slow down, cuddle, bond. I knew it would be a great comfort to him, especially when the shock of a new baby was likely to turn his world upside down.

The day my third child was born was a joyous day for me, but not so much for the Imp. He was confused, tired, cranky, maybe even feeling deserted. My husband kept the older children at home while I recovered in the hospital with my wonderful mother-in-law and my new baby. When the boys came to see me the next day, the Imp was not a happy camper. He didn't want me to hold him, he clung to his father in a way that made my heart hurt. But when I offered to sit with him and nurse him, he crawled into my lap like he had never left. He looked into my eyes and I imagined my love and reassurance passing to him through my milk. It was like a little bit of magic and I knew the temporary rift was closing fast.

In the days that followed, the Imp began to nurse more frequently. Having read about how toddlers and older babies handle tandem nursing, I wasn't surprised at all. It was a comfort to him (and to me, truth be told). He needed to know that I was still his - still accessible to him. We had some rocky moments when he didn't want to wait, when he didn't - couldn't - understand why I was nursing this tiny person instead of him. I think he truly came to accept his brother when I put them both to breast at the same time. It wasn't always easy and sometimes required a bit of juggling (or the extra hands of my spectacular husband), but I really think it helped to show him that I belonged to them both.

It's been two months now. My little one is thriving, my toddler is contented, life is good. The Imp has come to understand "in a minute" and "as soon as the baby is done " do not mean "no." He even tries to help me when I nurse his brother - bringing me blankets and pillows, petting his brother's head gently. There are still times when I nurse them both together. The Imp lays his head on the baby's legs and
smiles so contentedly. His obvious joy at nursing is enough to show me that I made the right choice.

I can't say it's always been easy. My husband and his mother have been extremely supportive, as has a friend of mine who recently had her first child. Most people still look at me askance when they find out that I'm breastfeeding both of my younger children. Some come outright and tell me that I should wean the older of the two. This experience has helped me gain confidence in myself (something I've always lacked). I don't feel that I need to defend the choices I've made, but that doesn't mean I will let the naysayers walk all over me. I hold my head proudly when I nurse my children in public, ignoring the nasty looks I may receive. I applaud (sometimes literally) other mothers that I see nursing their children when we're out. I've tried to lend my aid and support to every breastfeeding mother that might need it. I'm proud to be tandem nursing my children and take comfort in knowing that I am doing what is best for myself and for my family.


Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts - new articles will be posted on the following days:

July 5 - Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World

July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child

July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.

July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives

July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It


  1. Beautiful! I must admit - I have never seen another mama tandem nurse in public, but if I ever do, I won't be able to help give a big cheesy grin to the mama. You are an inspiration!

    Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

  2. Tandem nursing was such a joy and an overwhelming experience for me. I too nursed through both subsequent pregnancies and tandem nursed all my babies. I think you're totally right about your son finding it possible to accept his sibling from tandem nursing. That reason was why I gritted my teeth and dealt with the painful nursing sessions during my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies. It really makes a huge difference when the older child still has that special time.


  3. I'm "due" pretty soon and I'm still nursing my 27 month old. I get a lot of "you can do that?" comments. I look forward to having a toddler help me with my engorgement postpartum!

  4. TopHat: It was great having the Imp to ease the engorgement. However, there's another side to it. Because he doesn't nurse at night and some days only nurses a few times, I often suffer from engorgement randomly. It's not such a big deal, but it makes it a little difficult for the infant to nurse sometimes.

    Rebekah: I've heard so many stories about tandem nursing being painful. I guess I got lucky. (:

    Dionna: Thanks! My husband even remarks about how great it is to see other women out nursing their children. Thanks for hosting such a great carnival and for letting me be a part of it. (:

  5. Oddly enough I want to tandem, the odd part of it, is I only wanted one child. I know you're not suppose to refer to nursing as magical but it is. I have yet seen a tandem nursing mother in person, only pictures, but I want too. I want my daughter to, too.

    You go Mama!

  6. Oh, I wanted to add:

    I think it was Kellymom (don't quote), but there was something that I read (concerns about the nutrient being taken from the fetus), that one mom was concerned with nursing while pregnant. There was a comment that said if you don't have a high risk pregnancy and you are not on bed rest from pelvic area issues. Then nursing while pregnant could be compared to being pregnant while nursing.

  7. I only have tandem nursed mine at LLL meetings! I have one pic of me doing this at home but I don't like how I look in it :-) I don't do it anymore because they are each likely to pull in opposite directions while goofing around OW!

  8. If I get pregnant and am still nursing Ella I will certainly tandem nurse - this was a beautiful and heartfelt post - I loved it!

  9. I tandem nursed for 5 months and also throughout my pregnancy. You are perhps the only other mother I've heard of besides myself who didn't have a lot of discomfort nursing while pregnant. Yay for us! I don't remember if I nursed them both in public or not. If I did it was obvously unremarkable, but I do wish I could remember.

  10. oursentiments: Once upon a time I didn't want kids at all - now I have three! (:

    Jess: I have pictures of me nursing both kids at once. My husband took them from above us and I look a bit like an alien - who knew breasts stretched like that?! (:

    Andrea: Thanks! (:

    Melodie: You know, I've never met another tandem nurser outside of the internet. Our local LLL apparently has a toddler group/meeting/thing that I'd like to check out, though.

  11. I tandem nursed for almost 3 years, but I didn't get the hang of nursing them at the same time. Woohoo to you for doing what's best for your family and doing it with confidence!!

  12. Casey: It took a while (and a very persistent toddler) for us to get the hang of nursing them both at the same time. I think a lot of people confuse "tandem" with "simultaneous" when it comes to nursing, though, in general.

    Today while nursing both of them (I honestly don't do it very often), the older held the younger's hand. It was beyond cute. (: