Tandem Nursing: Part 2 - Nursing a Baby and a Toddler

As promised, here's Part 2 of my musings on tandem nursing. You can find Part 1 here.

When my milk came in after Afraz was born, Aqil went a little crazy with the breastfeeding. He didn't even care that he had to share with his brother, as long as he got the "duwishus nenen" (delicious milk). Think about it: he continued to nurse all through pregnancy despite not getting any milk, or very little milk. Of course the incredibly rich, sweet, newborn milk was just irresistible to the lil guy. There were times when he would be "mabuk susu" (milk drunk). It was quite hilarious.

Another aspect that I caught me off guard despite reading about it before, was the change in Aqil's poop! He started passing runny newborn poop again. Also, he put on weight and regained his baby rolls...despite hardly eating any solids, because he just wanted to nenen all the time.

Naturally, his enthusiastic nursing, along with that of my always-hungry newborn, only helped to increase my supply. Words cannot describe how proud, thankful and amazed I was that my body was providing more than enough nourishment for my two children. It was surreal!

However, in the first month post-partum, I still experienced traces of agitation. Along with volatile post-partum hormones and the lack of sleep that is par of the course in caring for a newborn, I was quite moody. Strangely enough, though, the feeling was not as bad as when I gave birth to Aqil - I had such major baby blues that time, it almost prompted DH to bring me to the hospital. This time around my moodiness was bearable, and in fact most of the time I felt quite happy. I suspect it had something to do with round-the-clock nursing. Increase in the pleasure hormones, y'know?

Anyhow, after the first month, the feeling of agitation vanished, as did my moodiness, and I began to get into the groove of being a mom to two young children. Along with easing into our routines, I was getting used to breastfeeding two children. For the first three months or so, tandem nursing went without a hitch. It was quite a blessing to have them both nursing together most of the time, because it meant that I would get frequent breaks during the day where I can just relax and not have to chase after Aqil. There were times when they would fall asleep together at the breast, which was awesome because obviously it meant that mama can have a power nap as well ;)

Since I have a short and narrow (shall we just say petite?) torso, it meant that a double cradle position was impossible from the start.

Picture from KellyMom


So for nursing while sitting up, I would opt for having Afraz in cradle position, and Aqil in modified football hold.

Picture from KellyMom

But as Afraz got older and bigger, things got a little more complicated. He began kicking his brother, which I can't blame him for since essentially his legs were being pushed in when they could be hanging off to the side if his brother wasn't there. Aqil obviously didn't enjoy this either. So then I adapted further by having Aqil stand up to nurse, while I continued to cradle Afraz. This was fine and all for the kids, but not so great for longer sessions because I had to lean to the front a little, and that hurt my back.

To this day, each tandem nursing involves an array of positioning possibilities. Most days its trial and error, other days we find the ideal position from the start. But now that Aqil is less inclined to have longer nursing sessions, its a lot easier to position ourselves since I now he'll only be around for like 1/3 of the session.

As of this past week, my main issues with tandem nursing are the flailing hands of the kids. Afraz starts grabbing at Aqil, who starts to swat Afraz' hand off, which gets Afraz upset and causes him to unlatch, which makes me annoyed, and so on and so forth. There are days, however, when they peacefully hold hands or rub each other's faces. I remember back when Afraz was a newborn, Aqil would rub his arms and his hair till he fell asleep :D I live for moments like that.

Honestly, if anyone asks me whether I regret tandem nursing, I would answer with a resounding NO. I love it! Our experience has had its fair share of hardships, but none of it can outweigh the positive benefits all three of us have received. Both kids are happy, healthy, and close, whereas my life is convenient (in case of toddler meltdown, I still have the boobs to ply him *LOL*), peaceful (seriously, I cannot tell you what a blessing it is to be able to get Aqil to quiet down for just 5 minutes of nursing) and full of gratitude to be able to witness the brotherly bonding that goes on between my two boys when they are breastfeeding together.

So, to all the glam mamas out there who might be in the same position I was all those months ago - pregnant and still breastfeeding - know that you have a choice. There is no wrong or right. It all depends on your situation, how you feel about the possibility of tandem nursing/nursing while pregnant, and the status of your new pregnancy (higher-order multiples and high-risk pregnancies run the risk of multiple complications that can be further exacerbated by breastfeeding). The most important things is to educate yourself. Read a book, do some research, ask around. Then go to your chosen OB-GYN (who is, hopefully, pro-breastfeeding) armed with all these info so that you can have a sound, educated, well-rounded discussion about your choices.

Pictures in this post are courtesy of KellyMom
For more info please check out KellyMom's "Nursing For Two" section here