G is 2.5 years old and around his first birthday I decided that I wanted to wait for him to self wean. He hasn’t done so yet and I imagine he will continue for some time. There so many benefits to nursing a toddler so I’m not in a hurry. The natural age for weaning is estimated to be between 2 and 7 years old. I figure that when it starts being weird or uncomfortable for either me or him, then that’s a good indication that it is time to wean. In the meantime, I’d like to take advantage of the multiple benefits of breastfeeding, including the antibodies. He still gets sick, but he gets better fast generally and we’ve absolutely never had a problem with dehydration during illnesses.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
We night weaned G prior to getting pregnant with K (this just means that he doesn’t nurse during the night) which has made everything easier… I can’t imagine having two children up all night for nursies.
During my pregnancy, nursing was down to about 4x/day because it wasn’t always comfortable, despite his excellent latch, and I likely wasn’t making much milk at that point. I wanted to continue nursing though, rather than force him to quit and have him feel resentful of the new baby. I’d heard so many positive stories about women tandem nursing their children so it really got me excited to have my boys “share.”
Nursing through pregnancy is often discouraged by people (including doctors) who aren’t familiar with it, with it often being cited as a potential cause of preterm labor or miscarriage. While nipple stimulation can cause you to go into labor early (theoretically) during pregnancy, that tends to be due to it being abnormal for your body. It hasn’t been heavily studied, but low risk pregnancies are unlikely to interfere with breastfeeding… or vice versa… from what I have read. Here’s some information from KellyMom about breastfeeding during pregnancy. The one thing I did notice is that I had contractions while nursing often during the third trimester. They stopped immediately after nursing, however, so I was not concerned. No signs of preterm labor at all, healthy pregnancy, and all my tests were great. I did make sure to prioritize getting the right amount of nutrients and I actually worked out how much I needed so I could use MyFitnessPal to track iron intake and vitamin intake to ensure it was appropriate. Probably excessive and unnecessary, but I had the resources so I chose to do it. I believe our bodies will tell us what we need… ie. “Hey I am dying for a hamburger!”
We didn’t start tandem nursing the two boys until I was home for the hospital and because I had a c-section, we had to be very careful for a while so G wouldn’t stomp on my wound. Lots of “careful for mommy’s boo boo!” “gentle!” etc.
The first time we tandem nursed, I was sitting in bed and it was G’s bedtime. G was so excited to be nursed and for the first time, really took the time to sit and look at Baby K. He held his hand and touched his face gently as we nursed. It was great because nursing is one of the few times G really slows down and isn’t in constant motion. It made this introduction easier and sweet because we weren’t needing to worry about G hurting K accidentally. It’s been a great way for us to come back together and for him to really focus on his brother. I often nurse them separately, just because my husband and I swap off for bedtime about who has who, but nursing them tandem still is nice to do every now and then. I usually lay K on top of G. It’s a big mix up of legs, if you can’t tell from the main blog picture.
We’ve had a couple of pretty cute moments while tandem nursing. We had to explain about sharing nursies quite a bit, just to prepare G, and often we’d say “Good sharing!” when he was being nice about nursing with K. So it shouldn’t have surprised us when, instead of asking for “milkies please” he came up to me while I was nursing K and says “SHARE?!” It made me giggle. We’ve also recently been trying to teach him to wait and that it’s “K’s turn”… so I was nursing G before nap one day and K started to cry. G unlatches and says, “Kaden’s turn?” So stinkin’ cute.
The one thing I’d say is hard is that there’s no great way to really nurse subtlety with two kiddos… it’s not a big deal for us because G only is nursed at home, but I was thinking how hard it’d be to nurse twins. I also think G sometimes gets jealous when he sees K get nursed during the night… otherwise he doesn’t seem to mind and is happy to share. When I’m done feeding G, I tell him “10 seconds” and he’ll unlatch on his own before the countdown ends. I think it’s nice to see him interested in his brother and he’s really been great at helping out. I’ve been impressed at how little jealousy he’s displayed. I think the tandem nursing has been one of the things that’s helped facilitate this smooth adjustment to a baby in the home.
It’s one of those choices you need to make for yourself though… I love nursing my kids. Despite this, there are days where I am WAY touched out. I can’t imagine tandem nursing if I didn’t love nursing. I make sure I set a lot of boundaries with G around nursing to make it less frustrating and so I can keep up the momentum, rather than getting frustrated one day and forcing him to wean cold turkey. I think it’s nice to process this all before you have a second child and decide what you’re going to do. Good luck with your decision!