Google+ Authentic Parenting: Thoughts on Tandem Feeding

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thoughts on Tandem Feeding

Written by Susan

When I fell pregnant with my daughter, my son was a little over 19 months old and still primarily breastfed. I had no intention of having him stop breastfeeding before he was ready, despite the crawling-out-of-my-skin sensation that accompanied breastfeeding during pregnancy. I challenged a GP and midwife when they told me to wean without good reason, though my own midwife seemed supportive of it. To me, it was just natural, and since the pregnancy was straightforward, there was no reason to wean Kieran. He did drop off on his feeding towards the end of the pregnancy, when the milk was all but gone, but he never completely gave it up.

I'll be honest in saying I didn't research tandem feeding, but I had some friends who tandem fed their babies and toddlers, so I figured we'd just figure it out without a problem. For the most part, that was the case. I gave birth to Charlotte with a peaceful homebirth; Kieran was 2 years and 4 months old at that point. Charlotte latched on beautifully. My husband took Kieran to Mass and for a walk so that Charlotte and I could snuggle and have that initial bonding time together. It was wonderful.

Later in the day, Kieran came up to my room, where Charlotte and I were ensconced in the bed. Charlotte latched on, and Kieran wasn't exactly keen on that at first. In fact, he pushed her off the breast. But I relatched her and then let him have milk on the other side. It took a little getting used to, with supporting her in one arm and having Kieran on the other side, but after that initial tandem feed, both did well with it.

It became a bonding time for all of us, but especially for them. It showed Kieran that he was still my little boy, even if he shared me with a sister now. I really think it helped with any jealousy issues. That's not to say that all such issues were avoided, but it certainly helped. Even now, at the ages of 4 and 21 months, Kieran will sometimes ask for “two monkeys to have milk”, meaning that he wants them to tandem feed. I don't often grant that request now, simply because Charlotte then ends up bothering Kieran and it becomes awkward, but it's sweet that they have that bond and still want it.

If Charlotte is still breastfeeding when I fall pregnant again and have another, I won't hesitate to tandem feed again, if that's what she wants. In a way, this is one of the tragedies of many not breastfeeding full-term, in that many don't get to experience that bond between the toddler and the newborn like that. Of course I understand why some don't tandem feed, and I'm not at all looking down on those who choose not to tandem, but in my experience, it is a beautiful, and occasionally silly, time of bonding.

About the author:
Susan (Archaeology cat) blogs over at From Hearth to Eternity, where she chronicles her adventures in parenting her two monkeys and trying to live a life of faith.


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6 comments:

  1. This is a great article, and a great topic to explore. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. That's really special. <3

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  3. This is beautiful! I plan on nursing my babies until they no longer want to. My family says that this is weird. They also believe that once the baby can say "I want boobie" it is time to wean. I say that is the most important time to feed!! If they are expressing themselves, why hold back?

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  4. I love the way Kieran described it; “two monkeys to have milk” :)

    I tried tandem feeding my two (DD1 was 25 months when DD2 was born) but found it too awkward. But it did help those first few days when everyone was adjusting to our expanded family.

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  5. Thanks for allowing me to send you the post!

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