Thursday, August 30, 2012

Breastfeeding Blog Hop: Tandem Nursing

Nursing and wrestling...Knee "I will get you back big bro."  HB  "Ha ha, you don't know where my other hand is!"

The title of this piece should read "Confessions of a Reluctant Tandem Nurser" because that illustrates who I am.  I used to think tandem nursing was weird; now I just think it's functional.

You see, when I started my nursing journey it was one of white-knuckled determination.  My mother warned me repeatedly not to get my hopes up.  She couldn't/didn't nurse me or my brother.  My mom's mother didn't nurse her three children either.  My MIL only nursed my husband until he was three months old (long story I won't get into here).  I had literally two people that I knew who had nursed their children.  I had no relatives that I knew.  There was very little support that anyone could offer me in this area so I knew the choice to breastfeed was going to be one that I would have to mostly struggle with on my own.

After giving birth to my oldest in a hospital, I met with a lactation specialist.  HB and I struggled through the first few hours after birth (and the first few months).  I learned that the hospital, like many others, had a support group that met.  So I went to it to get support and eventually give support.  Regardless of how natural breastfeeding is, it can be at times a real struggle.

I hadn't really thought about tandem nursing until I was with the group for a while and the subject came up.  Nursing multiples, to me, seemed normal.  Nursing children of multiple ages seemed really odd.  I made mention of it at one of the meetings and one of the other ladies there agreed.  She said in her studies she learned that even cows aren't milked the last few months of pregnancy.  So does it make sense for humans?

But you know what they say....

When HB was 15 months old, we discovered our other surprise.  HB was still a big boobie boy.  Who am I kidding?  He's still a big boobie boy.  But at that time I was reluctant to give up the nursing relationship because he wasn't two (which is what the WHO recommends) and he was so young that adding all the difficulties of pregnancy and a new brother....well, upending his fav thing (ie boobie) would have been too much for him.

I sorta had this expectation that he would eventually stop wanting to nurse on his own without outside pressure.  But that hasn't happened.

His brother came along and so we kept right on nursing and still do.

Some people asked me recently how often they nurse together.  It really all depends.  At first when Knee was quite small, I mostly nursed them separately.  But since Knee eats quite a bit of solid foods now, the number of tandem nursing sessions has increased.  The reason is because in order to keep the peace between the two of them, I sorta have to.  If HB is nursing, Knee wants to and vice versa.

I also find that I have to physically place myself between them because Knee likes to kick and poke at his brother's face and HB will do the same.  Often I find HB warding off his brother by grabbing hold of Knee's hand.  My boys like to wrestle each other sans nursing too.  Even Knee will clobber his brother on the floor.

Do I like tandem nursing?  Well...it has it's perks.  It does give me a moment of quiet.  I know that if one is sick the other will be less so if at all.  I know that HB won't flip out and will calm down (same for Knee).  I know that it helps with pain.  I know it's nutritional and it ensures that their diet is balanced.

But I don't like the wrestling matches between them.  And I don't like the riffling up my shirt or the pinching of my boobs.  I don't like my toddler demanding boobie during quiet moments in public.  I would like to be able to sit down without someone grabbing my tatas.  Sometimes I just want my boobies unto myself.  And I do tell HB that sometimes I just need a boobie break and generally he understands, unlatches, and goes about doing something else.

I won't paint you a rosy picture of tandem nursing.  But it's not as exotic as the media portrays it to be.  And it's not something that should be whispered about in back rooms to understand.  I certainly don't think people should knock it as much as they do.  (I actually didn't say anything all that bad about it, mostly that I just didn't understand it.)  Some parents intend to tandem nurse and some just do so because it's one of those things that we can compromise on when it comes to parenting and doing what seems best for our children.

Did I set out to tandem nurse?  No.  It just sorta happened. 

Go check out others thoughts.



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