Breastfeeding Goals and Tandem Nursing

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe’s 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 Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about how your breastfeeding goals have changed. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th-31st!

I always knew I would nurse my children. My mother nursed all of us and took pride in the fact that she didn’t need bottles or pacifiers but just nursed us whenever we needed. She loved the connection we had and how everything worked so well, and I always knew that I wanted the same. I wanted to stay close to my children and nurse them and never need to pump or supplement them.

As I started learning more about breastfeeding as I was preparing to get pregnant and during pregnancy, I learned that the World Health Organization recommends nursing exclusively for at least 6 months and then continuing with complementary foods for at least two years, so that seemed like a pretty good goal. I made a goal that I would nurse two years, and after two years, we would start trying for another baby, and my first baby would wean during the pregnancy.

Surprisingly, when my daughter arrived, most of that went according to plan. My daughter wasn’t really interested in solids at 6 months old, but she started eating them eventually. When she turned two, she was still nursing enough that I couldn’t get pregnant yet, so I trusted that she still needed the milk, and a few months later, I was expecting again with almost 3 year spacing between my children. However, I wasn’t sure she was really ready to wean, and she was absoltely sure that she wasn’t ready to wean!

I had never considered it before having a baby, but I had met a few mothers through La Leche League who had tandem nursed, and soon, I found myself nursing not only a newborn, but a 3-year-old who was nursing like a newborn as well. Tandem nursing ended up being just wonderful for our family. My experienced toddler was great for relieving engorgement, still being allowed to nurse helped her adjust to life with her new brother, and his arrival made her favorite thing – nursing – even better with the presence of and abundance of milk!

The greatest blessing of tandem nursing was not realized until my son was about 9 months old. He had been slowly dropping down the growth chart, and at his 9-month check-up, it became clear that he just wasn’t getting quite enough to eat. He was struggling to get enough from the breast, especially when my breasts were emptier, and he certainly wasn’t able to get what he needed from solids due to his tongue-tie. Even supplementing was nearly impossible until after the tongue-tie was revised. He had never been nursing that effectively, but my initial oversupply and his sister’s nursing alongside him had helped him to get enough milk for several months, and her continued nursing became part of our solution.

I hated the idea of having to give my son milk in any way besides directly nursing, but I knew that with my daughter’s help, I had established my supply very well, and it would not be difficult to get my body to produce some extra milk to give him. My daughter even helped me express the milk for my son by nursing on one side while I expressed on the other. It was humbling to have to let go of my goal to never have to supplement. However, I am eternally grateful that I was able to do it with only my own milk due to the wonderful supply created by my daughter’s nursing. I don’t think it would have turned out as well if I had only followed my goal of nursing for two years and then weaning during pregnancy.

My goal has instead turned to wanting to continue nursing as long as it’s working well for both of us and to wean peacefully. My daughter is now 5, and my son is now 2, and they are both still going strong. Nursing matters to them. It’s their time to snuggle with me, a big part of how we express love for each other, and still contributes to their nutrition and immune systems. It won’t last forever, but it is still good for now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJeana Jones is the mother of two beautiful children. She is a La Leche League Leader with La Leche League of Salt Lake City and the Education Coordinator for this year’s Breastfeeding Cafe. She is passionate about nursing children beyond infancy, tongue-ties, and nutrition.

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

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