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Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

...celebrating every swee​t pea their birth

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In Their Own Words: Katie ~ 2016 Update

Posted on August 22, 2016 at 12:15 PM Comments comments ()
"In Their Own Words" is a blog series we share to bring you "real life" experiences from other mothers and their families.  Would you like to share your story? Please email me at [email protected] to get started.

 
Click HERE to read Katie’s submission for our ITOW series in 2012, written when her older nursling was 19 weeks old.
 
If you've read my earlier breastfeeding stories, you know how much I've dreamed of tandem breastfeeding. My dream came true July 2015. I've been tandem breastfeeding for over 13 months now, with my older nursling - my third child - being 4.5 years old (and I haven't had a decent night's sleep in about 4.5 years). If you've read my earlier stories, you will also notice this one is shorter. I think it's because we've just hit our groove. Anyway, you're probably here to learn about tandem breastfeeding.
 
I cannot say how amazing tandem breastfeeding can be. Obviously it can be convenient when both nurslings need comfort, especially at bedtime when everyone is cranky. 

Beyond the convenience, is the amazing: I'm talking about snuggling two children close to me while they look into my eyes or drift off to sleep. I'm talking about intense bonding hormones washing over me like a tidal wave. I'm talking about looking down to see my two children holding hands as they do their favorite thing together. I'm even talking about the laugh I get when they fight while they're breastfeeding, just like they did when she breastfed while he was still in utero. I'm definitely also talking about the laugh I get when the baby trolls the preschooler, like slowing moving his hand closer and closer to "her" boob or tousling her hair and brushing it into her face. (Seriously...as bad as I feel for her, it is hilarious.)
 
On the other hand, tandem breastfeeding is taxing. My body works that much harder to make milk. I get that much less sleep. Sometimes I'm touched out, and I just have to say no to the preschooler, and she has a meltdown. And I feel horrible, because I've just denied her something she believes is essential, and something that is an integral part of her relationship with me.
 
Many people tell me to wean my older nursling, or at least night wean, especially since my sleep is so poor. If that is a mother's choice, more power to her. I do not have the desire to make my child wean. I feel bad enough when I wave her off - sometimes pry her off - during the day and occasionally at night. 

I love to breastfeed my children. I love the connection. I love the security. I love the superpower-like feeling of nourishing and comforting a child with my body's natural abilities. I'm of the mindset that I absolutely will not make one of my children wean without absolute necessity. I will also be devastated when they wean. I love breastfeeding, even though it's hard.
 
There are always a few technical questions when it comes to tandem breastfeeding. How did I know the baby got enough? Did I make the older nursling wait her turn? How do I physically nurse them both, like am I an expert Tetris player? What about sharing illnesses? And the list goes on. 

First of all, there are a lot of resources available to assuage a mother's concerns, like La Leche League (LLL) meetings, and a book put out by LLL called Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond by Hilary Flower. 

Here are some of my responses:
 
  • As for making sure the baby is fed, many will say, "feed the baby first," but I say follow the advice for any breastfeeding mother regarding making sure her baby is fed. I don't make the older child wait unless I'm feeling overwhelmed. That has nothing to do with tandem breastfeeding and everything to do with hormones, and if she weren't 4.5 (like if she were just a toddler), I'd probably be more inclined to not make her wait.
 
  • I do typically make her jump on second, though, for logistical purposes. It's usually easier to get the baby into position and let her figure out how she's going to nurse around him. This has gotten trickier as he's gotten bigger (we definitely cannot tandem in a chair anymore; I usually choose the couch). When he was small, I could cradle them both, with him laying in her lap. Now I can barely cradle her at all because she's grown so much, so he gets my lap, and she gets the "football hold," if she's laying down. If somehow she got on first and he decides he just has to nurse NOW, which is a theme these days, he gets the football hold. She won't tolerate him on her anymore. In bed, she usually climbs on top of me while he lays next to me.
 
  • Finally, as far as illness, we haven't had to deal with thrush, but I'd probably do assigned breasts for that, and all the other stuff--well, we all have the same germs because we live together! Their new thing is to jump on the other side as soon as the other child is done, anyway.
 
So, is tandem breastfeeding easy? No, except when I can take down two cranks at the same time...then it's easier than the alternative.
 
Is tandem breastfeeding for everyone? Nope. Aside from determination and patience, it takes a true desire to do it.
 
Is tandem breastfeeding worth it? When it's good, it's great. And for me, the good far outweighs everything else.
 
 
Thank you to Katie for sharing her update on their breastfeeding journey today <3 I hope it has touched you and inspired you in some way, and that you will take heart and courage in your own breastfeeding (and maybe tandem nursing!) journey.
 
Katie Newton is an alumni mom from our Fall 2011 and Spring 2015 Classes.  She and her husband have four children.  See more of Katie's "random thoughts and mutterings" by visiting her blog,
 
UPCOMING EVENTS
Phoenix La Leche League: Live, Latch, Love
As part of the LLL area conference
August 26th, 5-7 PM
Embassy Suites Biltmore
 
La Leche League Conference
August 26-28, 2016
Embassy Suites Biltmore

Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
 
Disclaimer: 
The material included in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog and related videos contain information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of Birthing From Within or The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this video and on our blog do not necessarily reflect those of Birthing From Within, The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
 
Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson

 

In Their Own Words: Tanya + Tandem Nursing

Posted on August 19, 2016 at 9:39 AM Comments comments ()
"In Their Own Words" is a blog series we share to bring you "real life" experiences, written by other mothers about their families.  Would you like to share your story? Please email me at krystyna{at}sweetpeabirths{dot}com to get started.

Breastfeeding Series: In Their Own Words on the Sweet Pea Births blog...Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
Before I had children, I thought that tandem nursing was something a mother did with twins, or triplets, etc. Little did I know! 

After my first daughter was born, I went from thinking I would just nurse until she was one, to feeling sad that she self-weaned at 22 months while I was pregnant with my second daughter. I never knew how much I wanted to tandem nurse until I wasn’t able to do it. 

When I became pregnant with my son, I thought I might get the chance for tandem this time around. However, my second daughter self-weaned at 17 months. I felt this was far too early and was even more disappointed (Though the nipple aversion was getting pretty difficult!). 

My son was born when my second daughter was 23 months and to my surprise, 6 weeks later she decided to re-latch while in the bath tub with me one day. From then on she wanted to nurse at least 3 times a day. 

I was blown away! I had never heard of a former nursling re-latching. I proceeded to join an online tandem nursing group because I was unable to find much help at my normal breastfeeding group regarding tandem nursing. 

Breastfeeding Series: In Their Own Words on the Sweet Pea Births blog...Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
So here I was with my amazing tandem nursing that I had always wanted and I was MISERABLE!!!  It was so difficult because not only did I have an infant who was waking about 3 times a night to nurse, but now I had a 2-year-old who magically started waking up to nurse. There were many nights where I fell asleep with them hanging off me and my nipples just felt stretched to the limits.

My 2-year-old wanted to nurse almost as much as my infant did many days, and in the books I read there was no discussion about this behavior.  I went to my Le Leche League group and they suggested different ways of setting nursing limits. 

Slowly I began working on nursing limits with her, and over the course of a year-long tandem journey, I was able to get a few limits set. However, breastfeeding had become so much more of a struggle than I had ever experienced in my 4+ years of nursing.  I had always just followed my children’s cues and we seemed to have an unspoken understanding of one another when it came to nursing. 

This tension and dislike for nursing was uncharted territory for me and I began feeling such guilt. Guilt that I no longer understood my daughter. Guilt that I wasn’t having the same positive nursing experience with her that I had the first time around. Guilt that I was letting myself become so burnt out and stressed that I wasn’t being the mommy that I wanted to be for any of my children.

Breastfeeding Series: In Their Own Words on the Sweet Pea Births blog...Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonI think in hindsight, I got caught up in my head thinking I should be able to handle more because I have been through breastfeeding struggles. I had gone to classes and learned so much about breastfeeding. I was a seasoned mother according to most, and I felt that I should be able to handle so much more than when I was a brand new mom with a newborn. 

But...I was a sleep deprived mom with a husband working out of town. He was only home 4-7 days out of the month from the time our son was 6 weeks until he was 5 months and then again from 11-13months.  So I was a single, tandem-nursing, homeschooling mom of 3 during the week and a basket case during the one or two days my husband would come home.  My adrenaline kept me going through the week, but I would collapse many a Saturday either emotionally or physically (or both). 

Breastfeeding Series: In Their Own Words on the Sweet Pea Births blog...Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson

The truth is that at any stage of parenting it can get so hard and overwhelming and out of control. It is OK to ask for help! It is OK to complain to others! It is OK for things to not be OK!  I reached out to a few moms toward the end of my tandem nursing journey and complained that my almost 3-year-old was acting out so much more, regressing in her behavior, I was sleep deprived, I was resenting having to nurse two children…and you know what they told me…

It is OK to stop when the breastfeeding relationship is not working for both. At first I scoffed because “hey…this was my job. I don’t get to say that I AM tired of it. I have to wait until SHE weans, right?!?”

This is the biggest misconception I have felt and have heard others talk about. Now two months after our tandem nursing journey has ended I see that not only do I have a better relationship with my three-year-old but she has an amazing bond with her brother because of that tandem nursing. 

She is NOT damaged because I initiated weaning. She is thriving immensely! She is now potty trained (which was near impossible while she was nursing-she wanted no part of it), she is once again sleeping through the night, she has stopped doing the baby talk she had been doing AND we get to have a new way to have that special time together (which is a great thing for the middle child of the family). 

I am beyond grateful to have been able to extend my nursing journey through tandem nursing. I was able to nurse my two younger children together through the flu this past winter and they recovered far quicker than any of their friends (some who had to be hospitalized for dehydration). 

I am thankful that tandem nursing provided an easier transition for my middle child from baby of the family to big sister. But most of all I am thankful for the lesson I learned. 

I had a preconceived notion of how my nursing journey was supposed to go: I was supposed to happily tandem nurse until my middle child easily weaned herself.  I learned that just because that was not how it went, it did not make me less of a mother or her nursing experience less positive or less beneficial. It has to be a balance, just like everything in life.

Thank you to TANYA for sharing about her tandem breastfeeding journey today <3 I hope it has touched you and inspired you in some way, and that you will take heart and courage in your own breastfeeding journey.

UPCOMING EVENTS
Phoenix La Leche League: Live, Latch, Love
As part of the LLL area conference
August 26th, 5-7 PM
Embassy Suites Biltmore
 
La Leche League Conference
August 26-28, 2016
Embassy Suites Biltmore

Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
Disclaimer: 
The material included in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog and related videos contain information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this video and on our blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

In Their Own Words: Kirsten

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 12:13 PM Comments comments ()
This is part of a "In Their Own Words" series in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month 2013.  Here at Sweet Pea Births we celebrate and honor all breastfeeding relationships, and want to share these stories with you to empower and inspire you that no matter what the journey, with help, support, and persistence, most mothers can achieve the breastfeeding relationship they want with their nurslings.  If you would like to submit your story, please email me at krystyna{at}sweetpeabirths{dot}com.

Kirsten's Story:
My first son was born early, at 35 weeks due to pre-eclampsia.  I was given magnesium during labor, which I didn't realize can delay milk production.  Since he was early, he had trouble regulating his blood sugars (I am gestationally diabetic) and needed to spend the first few days in the NICU. 

I was not producing milk, not even colostrum yet (thanks to a combination of prematurity, magnesium and PCOS) and he had to be given formula in order to keep his blood sugars up.  Unfortunately for us, our NICU does not allow donor milk, and also did not tell me about alternative ways of feeding, so my boy was given a bottle every three hours for the first week of his life.  He had barely even seen a breast, and already knew that he preferred the easy flow of a bottle.  

Once he was keeping his sugars up without an IV, we were discharged and sent home.  I was so scared of underfeeding him, that we continued to use formula and bottles, while also offering him the breast at every opportunity.  He didn't want it.  At all.  

I was devastated.  I had grown up knowing that I would breastfeed, my entire family did it, and did it with ease, and here we were with a baby who would rather sleep than even attempt to nurse.  I was depressed and had crying jags constantly.  

I raged at my husband, my mother, my sister.  No one seemed to understand just how important this was to me, or how awful the rejection from my own child felt.  Finally, in desperation, my mom purchased a supplemental nursing system (SNS).  We figured at least this way my breasts would be getting some stimulation (despite frequent pumping with a hospital grade pump I was still not able to pump enough to satisfy the baby), and baby would be getting as much breastmilk as was possible.  

For weeks I taped tubes onto my nipples.  I cried every time.  It hurt, I was bloody and raw from where the tape pulled on and off.  But my son was eating at the breast!  We slowly moved down to the smallest tube size, so that he would have to work a bit harder.  He continued to eat at the breast, even though it was still supplemented with formula.  

Our next move was to move the bottle of the SNS lower, so that he was working against gravity.  Again, it worked!  I was still not able to produce much milk with a pump, though, so I was worried that I would never be able to wean him off of the formula supplements.  I had already started taking fenugreek, mothers' milk teas, domperidone and goat's rue.  I felt like I was throwing things at a wall, waiting to see what would stick.  

At about three months, I decided it had to be sink or swim.  I could not continue with the SNS anymore.  I talked with my husband and we agreed to give up the SNS.  If the baby was really fussy or lost weight over the long weekend, we would just continue pumping and do formula and breastmilk mixture, and be satisfied with it.  We were done fighting this battle.  

I was so nervous the first day without the SNS.  I didn't want to accidentally starve my baby, but I knew that it was this or giving up completely.  Much to our suprise, baby was happy and content to nurse at the breast with no supplementation.  I never felt letdowns, but baby was obviously eating enough, going by diapers, and he wasn't overly fussy.  

After our 4 day weekend, we weighed him.  He had gained 5 ounces!  Clearly I was producing milk.  We were overjoyed.  The SNS and bottles were packed away, just in case, for the next baby.  

I am so proud to say that at 27 months, we are still going strong.  We even managed to nurse through a pregnancy, and I am now nursing both my toddler and my newborn.  My milk was not an issue at all this time around, I am even bordering on having an oversupply!  I credit the toddler with that.  


We had many hurdles: low supply, medical issues for mom and baby, nipple flow preference, etc.  But with some hard work (for everyone, me, baby and dad) we were able to overcome them.  I am so glad that I did.  

Nursing my boys is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.  I am so grateful that I was able to overcome our obstacles, and feel incredibly lucky that my second son is a natural and we haven't had many problems this time around.

Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted. 

 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.




Still Tandem Nursing

Posted on July 21, 2012 at 6:49 AM Comments comments ()
"This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Blog Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Timbra Wiist landslidephotography {at} hotmail {dot} com. Today's post is about weaning. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed in the comments section at www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com The Carnival runs July 16th through the 31st!"    

My mom’s four experiences of weaning from the breast were all unique.  Knowing this, I expected that each of our children would follow their own schedule.  Our first child and I had a mutual cessation when she was around 22-months old.  We chose an emergency weaning with our second child.  We got pregnant sooner than we expected and I was having too many contractions when I nursed.  We reasoned that it was a better choice to preserve the pregnancy than to continue nursing our son – he was already 15 months old when he was weaned over a course of three days. 

I was determined that I would learn more about tandem nursing so that our next child could choose the time of his weaning if I got pregnant while he was still nursing.  I imagined that I would nurse him until he was at least two years old.  I did get pregnant while he was still nursing – that birthday arrived when I was around six months pregnant with our fourth baby.  

His second birthday came and went.  He was still nursing.  My due date approached…he was still nursing.  Our baby was born…he wanted nothing to do with me for three days.  Then he climbed on our bed, nonchalant as if he had not been ignoring me for three days, and asked to nurse. 

When I set a goal to nurse through a pregnancy, I did not think about what would happen if he nursed until the baby was born.  We established some parameters: he could nurse after the baby nursed.  He would have to respect my countdown from 10-1 if I chose to end the nursing session.  He would have to give up the breast if the baby woke up and needed to nurse.  The last one was that I would only nurse him at home. 

He bought into all the qualifiers…he is about to turn three years old in a few days and he is still nursing!  It is usually only once a day, either in the morning when he wakes up or in the evening before bedtime.  Occasionally, he still asks to nurse when we are in public, even when he knows by now that he is going to get a “no” answer.  I give him props for persistence! 

 I started a firestorm on my facebook page when I posted a picture of myself nursing our two-and-a-half year old son after the “Mom Enough” Time Magazine edition.  I captioned the photo by saying, “I am the mom that I am, and this choice works for our family.”  I was surprised to see that extended breastfeeding is still taboo in our country, and I credit that to the way breasts are perceived in our society:  toys first, function follows as a distant second.  By the same token, I took heart in the positive comments of support for making the choice that worked for our family.

Most of the negative comments on the photo were around the belief that extended nursing turns into an incestuous relationship.  I am sad to say that this weighed on me and I questioned myself for a few weeks.  Then I went back to my “mothering truths”:  Did I believe that this was right for our family? (Yes)  Did I have any issues around nursing our toddler? (Not at home) Did our toddler behave in such a way that would lead us to believe that he was suffering? (No)  What did my instincts tell me? (I am okay, he is okay)  Since my conclusion was that we were doing no harm, I meditated on that and let go of the shame I felt.

Going forward, I do not have any concerns that this is going to be weird for us or that he is going to be scarred for life. I do not think our son looks at me as a sex object.  It is a proven fact that the milk changes to accommodate a toddler’s needs, and I am so happy to see the proof that he is healthier for nursing.  Whenever a “bug” runs through the family, our toddler and our baby are the least affected by it, if at all.  He is fiercely independent despite the fact he still wants a daily connection with his mama. 

I also had one of our students (turned friend) who is an early childhood educator post that children do not start forming long-term memories until they are four-years old.  Our toddler treats me like his mother and he knows I have milk.  That is it.  To put the idea that nursing a toddler is sexual to rest, I post this meme: 


Now that it is his birthday month, I remind him that he is going to turn three soon.  I ask him when he is going to stop drinking my milk to see when I get a different answer.  His answer, for now, is the classic hands out to the side, palms turned up with an added shoulder shrug. 

I do not know when he is going to wean completely.  Sometime he will go 2-3 days without nursing and I think he might be done, and surprise!  Then he remembers that he likes to nurse and he is asking for milk again.  It has been an interesting tour into the land of tandem nursing, and one that has stretched me as a lactivist.  I believe in peaceful discussions, and I can only tell people that this choice works for us. 

We will continue down this journey together for a while longer.  My hope is that he will wean himself and that it will be a sweet parting.  I know he will not be breastfeeding when he is in college, so sometime before then will be great! 

More about our tandem nursing experience here

Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
 

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson

Our Journey Into Tandem Nursing

Posted on March 9, 2012 at 11:05 AM Comments comments ()

Bradley Method® classes in Chandler, AZThe idea of tandem nursing has appealed to me since I had to do an emergency weaning with our second child (Brussito).  When I was pregnant, I had this image of fulfilling my role of Mother by continuing one nursing relationship while establishing another.  I was going to be Earth Mama feeding her children.
 
Our story starts with our third pregnancy:  We had gotten pregnant sooner than we expected to, and after the first trimester I started having contractions every time I nursed Brussito.  Since we had already experienced a miscarriage and I did not want to risk another one, I weaned him in a matter of about a week.  It was so sad for me, especially since I know breast milk contributed to his speedy recovery from illness when he was an infant.  Luckily, he was at the right developmental age to wean easily and life went on.
 
Child number three (Bryan) was born, and we got off to a great start to our breastfeeding thanks to an early visit to see our chiropractor.  He did a little adjustment to correct the misalignment that happened during his passage into the world.  It was a huge improvement over the 30-60 day acclimation period with our first two children.  They had nursed better on one side over the other, and the pain was so intense that it made me cry every time I nursed on “that side”.  By the time Bryan was ten days old, nursing was pain-free and I had never felt better as a nursing mom.
 
Bryan and I treasured our one-on-one time together.  I craved it because most of my day was spent homeschooling our older children. He loved snuggling up into my lap throughout the day.  We co-slept at night.  It was all “hearts and flowers”. 
 
After Bryan was born, I met a couple of moms through La Leche League meetings who breastfed their toddlers through their subsequent pregnancies.  I was heartbroken.  I wondered how come their bodies worked and mine did not.  I wondered if I was “broken” in another aspect of pregnancy and labor (I had had two debilitating pregnancies and my labors take a long time to swing into high gear).
 
Fast forward to early 2011: When I got pregnant with our fourth child, Bryan was eighteen months old.  At this point, he was older than Brussito when I weaned him, so I figured if I had to do an emergency weaning, I could make peace with it since I had already nursed him longer than his brother.  At eighteen months, he was only nursing three to four times a day: when he woke up, sometimes a “snack”, at naptime, and at bedtime.
 
I was determined to ask more of my body this time around.  Knowing that it could be done, I set my mind to keep our nursing relationship going because I really wanted to allow Bryan a child-led weaning like I had with our first-born (she weaned at twenty-two months).  We made it through the first trimester with no complications.  Hello, second trimester…and the crampy contractions when I nursed!
 
How was I going to make this work?  I decided to “talk” to the baby.  By that I mean that I communicated thoughts and images to my baby in-utero.  I told the baby that the oxytocin she felt was for nursing her brother, not for starting labor.  I told the baby that she was safe, and that my body was working for a few minutes to feed her brother.  Once nursing was over, I thanked my body for not creating contractions.  This mind over matter worked!  The contractions stopped happening when I nursed, and the pregnancy continued to a healthy conclusion.
 
I know that by the third trimester, Bryan was only getting colostrum.  One time I did a little hand-expression when I didn’t feel the let-down reflex, and this liquid was not white – it was the golden liquid so precious after birth.  I asked Bryan if he was okay with that, he nodded yes, and kept right on nursing.
 
We read our sibling preparation books over the summer to get Bryan ready for the idea of becoming a big brother.  One of the books we read shows a mother nursing the new baby.  I would point out that the baby drank milk from their mama just like he did.
 
About 36 weeks into the pregnancy, I realized what we had done – I had almost nursed through a pregnancy!  Then it sank in – Bryan had not self-weaned in that time, and if he were still nursing, that would mean that I would be nursing two kiddos concurrently.  Now what?
 
So I went to my reliable La Leche League leaders and asked them what to expect and what I could do about tandem nursing.  They confirmed the information that a couple of Internet searches had yielded: feed the baby first; and it’s okay for him to get the “baby’s colostrum”.  They assured me that the baby would get all the colostrum she needed even if Bryan was having colostrum, too.  They also warned me that he might want to nurse all the time again.  The new milk that came in was going to be sweeter and more flavorful than the colostrum he had been having at the end of the pregnancy.
 
Equipped with that information, I started preparing Bryan for sharing milk with his sister.  I told him that when his sister was born, she would need milk, too.  I told him, “Poor baby – so sad for her.  She can only have mama’s milk.  She isn’t lucky like you – you get to eat pizza, blueberries, ice cream (and so on with other favorite foods).  Not the baby.  She can only have milk.”  From there, I told him, “Since baby can only have milk, she will have to eat first.  You can eat (favorite food) while you wait your turn.” 
 
He also learned this scenario:
Q: “Bryan, how will the baby tell us she needs milk?”
A: “She will start crying.”
 
Now you and I know that we can head off the crying by responding to early cues, such as looking for the breast, gnawing on fingers/knuckles, suckling in the general direction of the breasts if they are in arms.  I wanted to teach Bryan that when we heard her escalated pleas for milk, she was going to get priority and that he would learn to be okay with that.
 
Well, I did not have much to worry about the first couple of days after Angélika was born.  Bryan was so stunned by the sights and sounds of the new baby that he ignored both of us for a couple of days.  By day three, he started coming into our room voluntarily to see us.  By day five, he was signing for milk again.  And so we started establishing the new hierarchy that we had talked about. 
 
The first few times we told him he had to wait for the baby to nurse first did not go well.  He threw a temper tantrum and even hit me a few times.  Daddy Bruss talked to him and reminded him what we had talked about – that baby could only have milk.  Then he would take him to the kitchen to find something to eat while he waited his turn.
 
Five months later, we have settled into a nice routine.  He still enjoys nursing and asks for his “cheche” throughout the day; it’s his version of “leche”, the Spanish word for milk.  Most heartwarming of all – when he hears the baby crying, he comes running.  He tells me, “Angélika’s crying, Mommy.  She wants cheche.”
 
To keep my sanity and some modicum of independence, I set limits for Bryan and I.  Otherwise I would probably be nursing, or eating to keep up with all the nursing; nothing else would get done!
 
The first stipulation is that he can only nurse at home.  Although I am happy that we are tandem nursing, I am not completely comfortable with nursing a two-and-a-half year old in public.  My natural living circle of friends would have no problem with it.  The challenge is that I wouldn’t do it if I were not around them – and that would be confusing and problematic for Bryan.  Maybe I will grow a little braver with time. 
 
The second stipulation is that I will only nurse one child at a time.  I have seen it done, and heard of other mamas who nurse non-twin siblings at the same time.  With four kiddos, I would rather keep the nursing one-on-one so that our special time remains “our” special time.
 
So now I am tandem nursing.  I had pictured this butterflies and rainbows under sunny skies, earth mama nourishing her children…it has never been that for me.  For me it is juggling time, it is negotiating, it is being still when I have other things to do.  And yet, it is completely and utterly fulfilling.  My babies are thriving, thanks in part to the milk my body makes for them.  It was not what I expected; yet I am grateful for the experience.
 
Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

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