August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. All week long, our contributors will be sharing their stories, encouragement, trials, and helpful tips for nursing moms.
When my first was born, I was expecting the breastfeeding relationship of my dreams. We’d stare longingly into each other’s eyes, lost in our own special world of love and bonding and unicorns. It would last approximately ten minutes and then she’d coo in my arms as we rocked silently in her beautiful nursery until I laid her down and she drifted peacefully into a deep sleep. Cue reality. A bad latch, constant nurser, mastitis, thrush, and a list of other challenges and you get my actual breastfeeding experience.
It wasn’t all bad. After we got the hang of it, it actually became amazing. She wasn’t much of an eater which I would later figure out was probably due to food sensitivities. She would much rather nurse than eat solid food, and I was mostly fine with that. She nursed her way into toddlerhood and I found out I was pregnant. Everyone told me that she would quit nursing when the milk started to dry up. Not my girl. She pushed through and so did I. It was excruciatingly painful. My nipples were beyond sore and I could only nurse for five minute increments.
I never really considered weaning her. I trusted her and knew she would quit when she didn’t need it anymore. I wasn’t always thrilled with nursing during pregnancy, just as I wasn’t always thrilled with nursing period. I knew it was best for her and trusted both of our bodies.
Finally, six days past her due date, her little sister was born. She thankfully latched right on and never had trouble nursing. I had prepared my oldest for the arrival of her little sister by telling her that she’d be bringing yummy milk with her. When my milk came in, it was the greatest day of my toddler’s life!
While tandem nursing, we didn’t do a lot of actual nursing at the same time. It was more like my toddler would get a snack every now and then. But when we would lay down and they’d both nurse, they would hold hands over my chest. My mama heart would melt and I knew I was doing the right thing.
There were certainly obstacles such as me feeling touched out all the time. And I couldn’t change my shirt without everyone in the house ogling me. There were benefits to tandem nursing as well! I was never engorged and when I got mastitis, my toddler could get in the perfect positions to help me get some relief.
I tandem nursed for one year. There were sweet times like when my youngest would grab her sister to come and nurse together and they’d giggle so hard that no actual nursing would happen. There were also times they’d fight and my nipple would get the brunt of their anger.
All in all, I know tandem nursing isn’t for everyone. There were hard times. For me it was like most of motherhood: you give more than you get, you wonder if you’re doing it right, you have things you’d do differently, but you know you always did the best you knew how to do.