05 May 2009

My newest article 3 of 3

I just had published my final of 3 series articles published in the BAMBI magazine. It's the main pregnancy and parenting magazine for expats in Bangkok. So exciting to open it up and see it in print! I have been getting a lot of thumbs up from all over the globe for these, so thank you readers!

Here it is:

Breastfeeding More than One: Tandem Nursing
By Erin Kannon

I have a problem and there is just no solution: I have three children wanting to breastfeed and I only have two breasts! How did I end up in this situation? I have 17 month old twin girls and a three year old little boy who all love to be breastfed. I never thought that I’d be breastfeeding a toddler at three years old or that I would ever have twins but here I am breastfeeding all three. My situation is a little extreme but many women out there are breastfeeding two or “tandem nursing” twins or a baby and a toddler.

Women choose to tandem feed their children for a variety of reasons. The main reason is that their breastfed toddler wanted to continue after the new sibling is born, especially if the toddler is still very young. As stated in a my previous article “Breastfeeding Your Toddler”, there are many benefits to breastfeeding a toddler and these benefits reach far into the second, third, fourth, or more year of life. A pregnancy and new baby are no reason to stop breastfeeding and cut short those benefits. Older children have to adjust to a new baby, and breastfeeding helps with the adjustment and continued bonding time that he craves. If your toddler stopped breastfeeding during your pregnancy due to a diminishing milk supply, it is possible for him to be breastfed again. You may have to re-teach him how to have a proper latch on your nipple.

Preparation for tandem nursing is important during pregnancy. Continue eating and drinking enough for breastfeeding through the pregnancy and even more after the birth. If your toddler is breastfeeding as much as the new baby, you may need 1000 extra calories a day, paying special attention to high quality foods. One risk for tandem feeding mothers is a lack of nutrition, especially if your children are spaced close together.

After the new baby is born, your breasts will make colostrum again, so make sure that the baby gets the majority of it. Expect to have some soreness and pay attention to correct latching from both children. You can choose to feed each child separately or together. If you decide to feed them separately, the child who needs the most volume for weight gain or the child who can handle a heavier flow of milk should be breastfed first. The toddler can also help with engorgement and reduce the risk of plugged milk ducts.

You body should have plenty of milk for tandem feeding. The “supply and demand” that works with one baby will work with two children as well. Pay attention to the number of wet or dirty diapers, frequent feedings, and normal weight gain for the baby as you would if only breastfeeding one. Your toddler will be receiving creamier milk than usual, may fatten up, and could even have newborn looking poops! The best part about this stage of milk is its high levels of immunities that your toddler will receive. If there seems to not be enough milk for two, the younger baby should take priority and make sure that your toddler is being given enough other foods to make up for his need in calories. If one child becomes sick, there is not much risk of cross-infection between children or the breasts, except in the case of thrush (yeast).

The logistics of breastfeeding two (or more) will work themselves out over time. There are advantages of breastfeeding only one at a time. Each child will have undivided attention, especially if there are jealousy issues, or you may find that the child not being fed will be jealous while waiting and you’ll end up feeding them together. If you find that you are feeling “over-touched,” feeding one will help. The biggest disadvantage to breastfeeding one at a time is TIME, as you will spend a larger portion of your day feeding if your children have to take turns. You will also have to figure out a way to keep the other child occupied during feeding times.

To get into position for breastfeeding both children together, it is easiest to correctly latch on the newborn first and then let the toddler figure out his position. You may need pillows or a footstool and maybe even an extra hand to get situated until you get comfortable doing it on your own. Double cradle, upright, or football holds work well. As the newborn grows, you can get more creative with positions. Side-lying with the older child draped over onto the top breast works well, as does lying on the back with a child in each arm.

When tandem feeding, your levels of oxytocin will be very high so feeling a little “foggy-brained” is normal. Make sure that you get enough rest as your body is working harder to produce extra milk. It is also normal to feel “over-touched” or to not like the sensation of breastfeeding the older child. Some mothers only let the toddler have one side or come up with “rules” for breastfeeding, such as only before naptime. Breastfeeding is an ever-evolving relationship between you and your children. Your children will bond together as they feed together and may even wean together as twins usually do. This is also a time where you can work with their communication and how they interact together.

Tandem feeding can be challenging. In today’s society we rarely if ever see or hear of other women breastfeeding more than one child at a time, let alone just one child past a year or so. There is very little “group wisdom” to be passed down. Tandem feeding is normal in many cultures, yet women often breastfeed in private because of peer pressure and are embarrassed to say that their toddler is still breastfed. Our bodies are designed to make milk and plenty of it. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family and know that you are giving your children a precious gift.

For further information:
Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Jane Bumgarner © 2000 (in the BAMBI library)
Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower © 2003 (also BAMBI library)
http://www.kellymom.com/ (general research-based information and forums)
http://www.mothering.com/ (articles and breastfeeding forums)

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At 12:59 AM, Blogger Jennie said...

Great article!


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