Life doesn’t always work out the way we plan. While some women are ready to jump into a tandem nursing relationship, others are reluctant. Just breast-feeding one child is a commitment, and taking on two at the same time is a major commitment. I know this because I am breast-feeding my 6 month old son Caleb while also nursing my 2 ½ year old son Jacob. I never expected to be nursing two children at the same time especially when they are over 2 years apart in age. Weaning Jacob is a challenge and I am still working with him hoping to have him fully weaned before he turns 3 years old in November. Jacob is the type of child that is very persistent and doesn’t want to give up the breast so easily.
So rather than having a war and going through weeks of sleepless nights to wean him cold turkey I have decided to wean him gradually as that seems to be less traumatic for him. I also need the sleep right now because my other son needs me so nursing them both was the best solution for my situation. There are days when I feel like every ounce of energy has been zapped from my body due to nursing both children, so I felt that it was a good idea to share some tips for survival in order to help other mothers who are also tandem nursing.
One of the first things I did when I started tandem nursing was develop some rules to follow. Just because your nursing two children doesn’t mean that you need to nurse both of them all the time and always at the same time. Yes there are times when I nurse them both, but that is on my terms. I explained to my toddler that the baby needs to be nursed first because breast milk is the baby’s only food source while he can eat regular food un like the baby. There have been times when the baby is nursing and Jacob wants to nurse also, and yet I wasn’t in the mood to nurse both of them, so I tell him that he will have to wait his turn.
Nursing a toddler is much more challenging than nursing a baby because toddlers are very demanding at times. Even though Jacob (my toddler) doesn’t talk much yet, he still understands just about everything I tell him. Jacob doesn’t need to nurse for nutrition, but he nurses for comfort which is very different. You set the rules based on what is comfortable for you, and your family. Remember that you’re the boss.
Take time out for yourself
When you’re taking care of two little ones there will be times you feel as though you’re being spread to thin. You might feel tired and exhausted. It is essential to find time for your self. Have your partner or husband watch the kids while you take a hot bath, or go spend the evening with your girlfriends. You will need to plan for this by pumping for the baby, and carrying a hand held pump with you in your purse when you’re out and about. It is so important that you have supportive people in your life who will allow you to do this. All mothers needs special care.
Take care of your nutritional needs
When your nursing two little one’s, your body can quickly become depleted of essential nutrients. If you’re not giving your body what it needs, your body will leach it from your bones, teeth, liver and other places where nutrients are stored in order to make milk for your babies. This same rule applies to any nursing mother. Be sure to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis as well as some type of lean protein such as eggs chicken or fish just about every day. If you’re a vegetarian be sure to consume other non meat protein rich foods such as beans, soy, or protein shakes. Supplementing with Brewers Yeast can also help you to stay healthy and keep a good milk supply. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of purified water each and every day, and if you’re working out drink more. Listen to your body. You can become dehydrated very quickly nursing two babies. Listed below are other essential nutrients that I take on a daily basis in addition to eating healthy.
Juice plus- This is a whole food multi-vitamin and Mineral supplement made from actual food. Whole food vitamins are much better for your body as compared to synthetic (lab created) vitamins. Other great whole food multi vitamins can be found at your local health food store or pharmacy. Another great brand is Garden of Life.
Calcium- In addition to taking a whole food vitamin I also take extra calcium, 1000 mg per day to be exact.
B-vitamins- I take a chewable B-complex supplement to help increase my energy levels. B-vitamins are essential because they help with stress as well.
Fish Oil- Depending on the season I usually take pharmaceutical grade salmon oil, fish oil, or cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is best to consume during the winter months because it has extra vitamin D.
Floridex- Floridex is a non constipating iron supplement that works wonders for nursing mothers.