Tandem breastfeeding - my experience
Breastfeeding two children, many women can't imagine that. Moms of twins often grow into it, they have to deal with it. But even they don't always breastfeed both children. But breastfeeding siblings is rarely described. Little seen. All the more I am happy to publish an experience report on tadem breastfeeding as a guest article in my blog. Dear Carina, thank you very much for your report!
My name is Carina, I am 28 years old and naturalness plays a big role in my life.
Professionally, I have never seen myself fulfilled. Since I have children, I know what my heart burns for. Now I want to do breastfeeding counseling and "communication nursing" to help women and families empower themselves and grow with their children.
How did tandem breastfeeding come about for us?
When my first son was 15 months old, I became pregnant again. He was still breastfeeding about 2x a day, in the morning and for naps... I was adjusting to tandem breastfeeding and even looking forward to it.
When I was 16 weeks pregnant, I started bleeding. In the hospital I was advised to stop breastfeeding or to limit it very much. Since I was in the hospital for 2 days and he also only visited me 1-2x a day, it went without any problems.
I then breastfed him only 1x a day when I was at home, also because I realized that I wanted to take it easy.
I still didn't worry about weaning, because I didn't want to take that away from him now, when everything was changing anyway. I was also looking forward to having two breastfeeding children, as I had read such great stories about how siblings get close to each other and how a deep bond can develop.
Because breastfeeding releases oxytocin. Not only in the mother, but also in the children. It is the bonding hormone par excellence and the synapses in the children's brains will be able to maintain this connection throughout their lives.
About a week later, apparently my milk stopped....
L. just started to talk and made me understand that nothing was coming out....
He then also no longer wanted to breastfeed. Of course, this was not a problem for me and for him. My body already did it that way for a reason and L. already knew the bottle because we put him to bed with it in the evening. So he took the bottle with Pre instead of my breast without hesitation.
After our 2nd son M. was born, it stayed that way. L. did try to drink at my breast from time to time, but he said "Nah!" and laughed jokingly. Ok, the milk will taste different than when he was a baby and maybe he can't suckle at the breast anymore, had he forgotten?
No, he had not! When M. was about 3 months old, L. one night, suddenly started to breastfeed again. At night on vacation.
At that moment I hardly realized it. I perceived it, but was a bit confused and thought, maybe it was only half asleep now, an old habit he remembered.
But it was not so, he was breastfeeding again the next day....
I was so happy, now I do get to experience what it is like to breastfeed 2 children at the same time.
I was looking forward to the moment when the time would come that I would really breastfeed both at the same time. And it came, on the same day. I was so proud, happy and yes, I didn't worry that it would still be exhausting.
Finding out my own limits and standing up for my needs.
At first, it was a super happiness boost and that time, I will feel fondly back to throughout my life.
However, there was also a very exhausting time for me, because L. had again very much enjoyed drinking my milk.
Since he breastfed at night for the first time again, I didn't want to take it away from him either. We were still on vacation for 2 weeks, so long I breastfed at night tandem, I was after all exuberant and relaxed in my favorite place.
Back home it was immediately clear to me, at night he now only gets water.
Whether he accepts it? Not directly. A few days of getting used to it were hard. I was often very tired and stressed at night because L. wanted my burust, not water.
Eventually we compromised with oat milk. I got my nightly rests and L. could drink his replacement milk. By now he was 2 years and 3 months old and I was able to explain well that I needed more rest at night.
During the day it also became very exhausting for a while. It was about half a year ago when I then wanted to draw my boundaries. I couldn't enjoy breastfeeding with L. anymore.
It was a burden that he asked for my breast about 10 times a day and sometimes really went into a rage because I denied him. How often I gave in, because of my own insecurity.
I didn't know what I wanted to do at that moment: "If I breastfeed him now, it's more energy-saving because I didn't have to muster up any energy to calm L.". But if I don't hold out now, I'll go crazy because I can't stand the sucking on the breast, so often. M. definitely still needs it, and I want to have enough energy for him."
I have proved for the fulfillment of my need, great will and understood at some point that I just need to be sure enough and I will accompany L. in his grief, no matter how, just without breastfeeding. I even thought about weaning him completely because I believed that otherwise it wouldn't work.
But when I drew my clear line, and I was sure myself what I want exactly at that moment and what not, breastfeeding or not, it became easier. He still asked often though, I answered him when I didn't want to, that I understood he wanted to breastfeed and he was welcome to do it again tomorrow. I am too tired now and he is welcome to cuddle when he needs closeness.
Our model in everyday life
Now it is so that L. with 2 3/4 years, breastfeeds very irregularly. Sometimes 3 times a day and sometimes 3 days not. Depending on mood, daily activity and time. I can enjoy it again.
M. is breastfed as needed. Also to calm down and to get close, at just under 11 months he sometimes already replaces whole meals, with what we also eat.
M. breastfeeds quite often and if L. then also would like and I have the strength and relaxation for it, he breastfeeds with. Otherwise he only needs it when he has hurt himself or feels very unwell or is sick.
The moments with the three of us
Wonderful. Loving. Powerful.
They were and still are great moments.
When the big brother strokes the little one and the little one loses the nipple from his mouth with grinning.
When the little one pokes the big one in the eye and the big one laughs and pokes back.
Or when they just hold hands.
My heart is opening while I am writing these lines, because I am so touched by these moments.
I would like to tell you much more about it, because I also wish that it is not condemned and that more people see it as natural.
For more information about Carina and her work (together with colleagues) you can visit her website mamalikka.de, as well as her Instagram and Facebook page.