Tandem Nursing While Pregnant
Originally published on April 27, 2017, at www.jadeannahughes.com/fromtheinside/2017/4/26/tandem-nursing-while-pregnant
I’ve written about breastfeeding a lot since I had Luna a little over three years ago, and I will continue to write about my experience long after our journey is over, especially as I feel like there are many more years to go on this journey (probably not with Luna, but definitely with our third and last baby). I’ve written about nursing a high needs child, about nursing while pregnant, and about tandem nursing a toddler and infant, then two toddlers, and then tandem nursing while moving into my third pregnancy. I have spoken to a few people who have nursed two children while pregnant, but all of them mentioned that their eldest weaned before or on the cusp of the third trimester.
Luna is now three years old, and Aurora will be 20 months in a few days. With Luna, I had given myself a goal of one year of nursing. With Aurora, I didn’t even bother setting a goal, and that turned into “we will stop when they want to stop.” Luna nursed through my entire pregnancy with Aurora, and I have been tandem nursing ever since. When I got pregnant late last year, I was pretty sure that at least one of them would self-wean during the pregnancy, so we would just see how it went. I also made sure that my doctors were on board (they are 100% fine with it), and made sure I was getting the nutrients I needed. We are now heading into the 31st week of pregnancy and neither child has any interest in weaning — both are actually more interested in nursing. I am pretty sure that both of them will be nursing while I am in labor.
I have reached out online via different social media platforms over the past 20 weeks or so for more information about tandem nursing while pregnant. (Note: Many LLL Groups in the USA have Facebook pages. Check out the locator link at the end of the blog to find LLL Facebook Groups in your area and elsewhere.) Some mothers I have spoken to have said that their eldest weaned before 30 weeks. I would love to speak to other people about how to deal with some of the annoyances of breastfeeding two children through the last trimester, and also about navigating the transition to three. The transition to tandem nursing was already tough enough; I have no idea how we are going to figure out nursing three together!
If you search online for tandem nursing pictures, you will come across loads of beautiful, peaceful pictures. I have a few of those on my hard drive — moments to remember when these years are far behind us. But most of the time our breastfeeding journey involves two toddlers simultaneously pulling on my top with one saying “dootiyah” over and over again (her word for nursing) and the other yelling “more, more!” or me nursing one after the other to sleep, only for the first one to wake up again just as the second has gone to sleep. It’s working on assignments while nursing a 36-inch child on my lap, or hoping that no one is going to say anything when one of them demands to nurse in the middle of a public area. Luna has always had high needs, and still wants to nurse when she falls over, feels tired, wakes up at night, etc. I don’t want to force her to wean. I don’t think that I could handle the crying and distress that that would cause.
For me, nursing while pregnant doesn’t really cause any issues until later in the second trimester when latching starts to hurt. As the weeks go by, it gets more and more uncomfortable. This time around, I have developed some nursing aversion and have to sometimes unlatch one of the girls and walk away to clear my head (this usually happens with Luna because her latch is more painful and she is more demanding). It doesn’t happen all of the time, but specifically on days when I feel a little tapped out and tired. This pregnancy has been the easiest of all of them, but some days I feel exhausted and just want to stay in bed for a few hours doing nothing. Of course this isn’t possible, so I push through it most of the time and try to explain to Luna that Mummy will give her a backrub/cuddle, etc. instead of her dootiyah this time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. These reactions so late into my pregnancy have made me really start to wonder how we are going to juggle it all after birth!
Luckily I don’t have any real physical issues. Weight gain is normal, and baby weight gain is normal. I have some strong Braxton Hicks contractions here and there but usually when I’m stressed out or upset about something — not while I am nursing.
Nursing three is most likely going to become reality. How this will actually translate into real life is another story. I had better stock up on food as much as possible because I know how ravenous I get during the first few months. I’m going to have to count on a lot of (prepared ahead) frozen meals and one-pot crockpot soups and stews!
La Leche League Resources
When you attend a monthly LLL meeting, you can learn from other parents about their experiences with tandem nursing. To find a meeting or LLL Facebook Group in your area, go to the La Leche League USA website: http://www.lllusa.org/locator/
For more information about tandem nursing, see the following resources on the LLL website:
FAQ: Nursing during Pregnancy: http://www.llli.org/faq/bfpregnant.html
FAQ: Tandem Nursing: http://www.llli.org/faq/tandem.html
My Three Nurslings (one mother’s experience of having three nursing children): http://www.llli.org/nb/nbmarapr08p10.html
Book Review: Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond by Hilary Flower http://www.llli.org/nb/nbnovdec03p222.html