Breastfeeding

My Tandem Feeding Journey

Hello Again!

I’ve wanted to write about our breastfeeding journey since I started this blog but it’s taken me until now to put pen to paper as they say. This is my personal journey and by no means am I suggesting that this is the right choice for everyone. A breastfeeding relationship is just that. A relationship. Both parties in a relationship have to be consenting and happy. I am happy with my choices and they work for us. Breastfeeding for any length of time is a wonderful achievement and something to be very proud of. So here goes!

Just over year ago, I fed L alone for the last time and left for the hospital. Less than 24 hours later we returned home with our little bundle of joy, Baby I, and we began one of the most amazing, challenging and blissful journeys ever! If you had asked me before I had children would I ever breastfeed a toddler, let alone tandem feed, I would have laughed. However breastfeeding has become such an important and defining part of my journey in motherhood and as a woman. It has become my secret tool to ease the pain of grazed knees, to settle and soothe my babies, to feed and nourish and to bond. It is empowering to know that I alone, can exclusively nourish my babies.

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Before I gave birth to L, I had planned to breastfeed and see how I got on. No pressure if it didn’t work out, I would do my best. But once I held my tiny baby in my arms for the first time, my maternal instincts kicked in and I was determined to do everything in my power to feed him myself. The weight of my responsibility to my little infant was a good deal heavier than his mere 7lbs 5 ounces. I wanted the best for him and I was going to do everything conceivable to make that happen. Breastfeeding came naturally to L and with the right support around us we shook off our initial difficulties and started our journey together.

I had always assumed I would wean at 6 months like the vast majority of mothers in Ireland, but when we reached 6 months he still felt so tiny in my arms and it didn’t feel right to stop. I could see no good reason to switch him to formula when I made perfectly good milk for him myself. During those first few months I began to see clearly the hold that formula companies had over their irish market. The clever marketing strategies, the aggressive promotion and the subtle advertising. I read a lot about their unethical practices and blatant violations of the WHO milk code. I began to see how they pitted mothers against one another and how they created and fuelled the very clever “mummy wars”. This was in stark contrast to the wonderful, supportive women I had found in my local breastfeeding groups. And so the days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months and when I fell pregnant with baby I, it was easier to continue feeding L. I know that img_20160119_202405.jpgseems crazy but being able to sit and feed him, even just for a few minutes, was a huge relief for me. Suffering from hyperemesis left me feeling very low and breastfeeding was the one thing that gave me a rush of oxytocin and made me feel happy and content.

When Baby I arrived we transitioned very easily into tandem feeding. In fact it was a complete relief to have a breastfeeding toddler in those early postpartum days. L was able to relieve any engorgement and it helped so much in aiding me to reconnect with him. I believe that the transition with our new arrival was so smooth because of breastfeeding. There was no jealousy or big emotions. Frankly it was really easy. I had night weaned L about 3 months before Baby I was born. This was an important step for us. I needed more sleep and I needed to ensure I wouldn’t be feeding both a toddler and a newborn all through the night. We used Dr Jay Gordon’s night weaning method. I prolonged each stage of the night weaning by two or three nights to make it as gentle as possible. Once Baby I was with us I never worried too much about the logistics. It all just seemed to fall into place. I am a desperate over thinker, but with breastfeeding I don’t think. I just follow my instincts. The second thing that has made our breastfeeding journey, in general so successful, is cosleeping. We made our 20160109_153415.jpgown DIY cosleeper and have bed shared with Baby I from day one. When she wakes for a feed she simply finds me and latches on without either of us fully waking up. What could be easier or more natural? Surely it is the biological norm for us to keep our babies close.

My final tip would be to find your tribe. Women who will offer real support and information without the usual rhetoric of  “just give that baby a bottle”. Find your nearest LLL meeting, Cuidiu and FoBF groups. Breastfeeding specific facebook groups can also offer a great wealth of knowledge and experience from other mothers.

Is it always easy? No. Lots of days over the past 2 years have been trying. Especially during growth spurts and cluster feeding where I have literally felt like my boobs were constantly out but it is worth it! L and baby I have an amazing bond with one another. I know I am giving my children an amazing gift. A gift that will hopefully benefit them for their entire lifetime. A gift no one can ever take from them. My greatest achievement as a mother and as a woman.

I hope this might help some of you who are wondering about or thinking of tandem feeding. As always you can follow me on facebook and instagram.

Bye for now!

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8 thoughts on “My Tandem Feeding Journey

  1. Hi Orlaith

    Lovely article 🙂 Do you mind me picking your brains about Dr Jay Gordon’s night weaning? My DD is only 11 months but I’m back at work & I feel we would both benefit from more unbroken sleep. She’s a real comfort feeder. How old was L when you approached it? Was there much crying, I feel baby Wren won’t go down without a fight!

    Apologies if it’s not appropriate to message from this link

    Thanks Sue

    Sent from Sue’s iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sue! No problem at all! We only night weaned at around 14 months. Dr Gordon doesn’t recommend night weaning until baby is 1. We did it over a long weekend so maybe the easter break might be a good time to try. There was minimal crying when we did it and even when there were a few tears we were holding him and cuddling him. The other advice i would give you is to make sure your partner is on board and willing to help. Being able to take turns settling the baby really helps. As I mentioned in the post we extended each stage of the process by one or two days just to allow L to fully get used to what was happening. I know all too well how tough it is when you aren’t getting enough sleep. It might also be helpful to get someone to take baby during the day for a little bit while you are doing the night weaning, just so you can get some rest and grab a nap. Trust me it will keep you sane! The method works if you are bedsharing or if baby is in their own room and we found it great. Hope this helps a little. Let me know if you have any more questions! 😊

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story! I think my daughter didn’t like the taste of my milk when I became pregnant. We were going strong and when she was 17-18 months, she started saying “No” shortly after I found out I was pregnant with my older son. I never got to tandem nurse, but would have considered it. There is a 4-year gap between my boys, so I was done nursing my older son when little man was born.

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  3. Great post. I had PND and there were days where breastfeeding was the only thing I felt it was doing right. On top of that, my Little Paddler was breach and so I had a section. I didn’t immediately fall in love with her like I was expecting and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me, but by breastfeeding, spending so much time with her and skin to skin, one day it just snuck up on me and I realised I had fallen in love with her. I definitely credit breastfeeding with helping this.

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  4. Hi There,

    Can I ask you about the bed sharing and getting your toddler to use his own bed (for at least half the night!).

    My son is 2 years, 3 months old and bedshares. He has never slept in his own bed.

    Does your son spend any of the night in his own bed and how did he start?

    My son would breastfeed usually about 2-3 hours after he initially falls asleep and from then on it’s very regular – every hour or less until we get up at 7ish…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Doireann, we stopped bedsharing with ds at around 8 months and put him into his own room when we moved house. I would just get up and go feed him in his own room and pop him back down into his cot. I definetely regret this decision and wish we had kept him with us longer. After a few months we decided it wasn’t working and so we would put him into his own bed at the start of the night and when he woke he would just come into us and we just let him. We felt the balance was good for us. The second thing we did was to take the side off his cot and turned it into a toddler bed. This meant he could just come into us when he woke and we explained this to him every night before bed which seemed to put him at ease. Night weaning, using the Dr Jays method worked very well for us and that meant that when he did come into our bed that he wasn’t looking for feeds. I think once they know they can come into your bed at some point they settle a little better. At 2.5 years old ds comes into us most nights but there is the odd night he won’t and he just sleeps through which is lovely for us as well!😊

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      1. Thanks Orlaith. I must try the Dr Jays method. I desperately need to reduce the night feeding. I am feeding 7- 8 times a night and bedsharing and over two years later…… I … REALLY…..NEED….MORE… SLEEP!!!!!!!!! At the moment it seems an impossible task. The bedsharing has resulted in me being a soother all night long. I must have a go at the Dr Jays method. But I know there will be tears. He expects it on regular tap all night…….

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