Tandem Breastfeeding - Double the Excitement!
Tandem Breastfeeding is nothing short of a superhero power! Having breastfed for two and a half years, I know from first hand experience, exactly what it’s like to breastfeed one baby on demand and it can be immensely rewarding, but also extremely tiring.
I remember sitting in the Mother and Baby room of Mama’s & Papas in the Bentalls Centre in Kingston Upon Thames, breastfeeding Jason and meeting another mummy who was breastfeeding her baby girl. We got to talking about the magic of breastfeeding and low and behold, she mentioned she was actually Tandem Breastfeeding. I must admit, I didn’t have a clue at the time what she meant. How on earth could she be feeding a toddler and a new born at the same time? I was intrigued, but felt embarrassed to ask more about her experience as we had only just met.
Recently, my sister-in-law Andriani started Tandem Breastfeeding and she is literally the second lady I have come across in the last three and a half years that is actually doing it. I couldn’t wait to catch up with her and find out all about it. Andriani (34) has a two and a half year old toddler Finn and has just given birth to a beautiful baby girl, Anais, and what an amazing job she is doing!
Andri, what age was Finn when you found out you were pregnant with baby number two?
He was 19 months, so I was breastfeeding for just under one and a half years when I found out I was pregnant.
How did you feel as an already breastfeeding mum when you found out you were pregnant?
It was my instinctive reaction to try and cut breastfeeding before the second baby came along. I immediately tried to reduce the feeds and did manage to reduce it down to a night feed. It was tiring and there were times when it got really difficult and even painful because of the pregnancy hormones and breast sensitivity.
I did want to stop at some point but I pushed through and it got better and I said to myself, "OK, since the feeling has gotten better and there are no problems with the pregnancy, I’ll continue and see how it goes.”
What did you think of the fact that it’s widely believed that you shouldn’t breastfeed while pregnant or that women cannot fall pregnant whilst breastfeeding?
Well, baby number two is proof that you can certainly fall pregnant whilst breastfeeding and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly surprised. When I went to the doctor, he recommended that I stopped breastfeeding but it’s easier said than done. So, that’s why I tried to reduce it and I did reduce it but I didn’t manage to fully stop breastfeeding. Then before I knew it I was much closer to my due date and I didn’t want to force Finn to stop breastfeeding when I knew that in the next three months, I would be feeding my second baby.
So I made a conscious decision that right, I am going to be breastfeeding both of them.
Wow. So, once you made the decision, how did that make you feel - that you were going to be breastfeeding two babies at the same time?
I was ok with the decision! But in practice, sometimes it’s ok, sometimes it’s a bit more difficult, especially when they wake up at the same time during the night and both want feeding. Finn is still so young and he doesn’t exactly understand why he has to wait for the baby to eat.
Were you worried about how Finn was going to react, seeing you breastfeed the new born baby? Maybe that’s a worry that some mummies may have.
We were worried but there wasn’t anything we could really do about it unfortunately.
Was it better when the time eventually came around?
Yes. When the time came, it was actually easier all round that he could still breastfeed and I think that’s why he’s not so jealous now. He gets to do it as well. Whereas if I had stopped breastfeeding and then he was seeing me with the baby, he would have been watching on and it would have probably been worse.
Was it was easier having milk already available from the very moment your second baby was born?
I believe it did help because when Finn was born and I was exclusively breastfeeding him, he would wake up every hour or so and sometimes every forty minutes so that he could build the milk supply, but with Anais, being the second one breastfeeding, the milk was already there. Now, there’s a constant supply and Anais sleeps for a lot longer because she’s getting more milk and she’s more satisfied.
How long do you plan on breastfeeding both babies together? Do you have a plan or will you see how it goes?
I think we’ll just see how it goes because I don’t know how other mummies actually cut breastfeeding, but I feel that maybe Finn just has to cut it on his own, when he decides it’s time to stop. I do hope it’s before Anais decides to stop and it’s not going to take another two years (laughs) but I can’t decide from now as I don’t know how it’s going to go.
What would you say to women that are pregnant, hoping to breastfeed and have worries that they might not be able to? Any advice?
To be honest, I would highly recommend going to breastfeeding seminars and learning as much as possible beforehand. They can also do some reading or build a support group, I think that would be really helpful. Successful breastfeeding comes down to support so if they have the support of their husbands specifically, that would be most important. Mummies can also support one another especially if they are going through breastfeeding at the same time.
Was support the biggest factor that helped you breastfeed for so long and then go on to Tandem Breastfeed?
Oh yes, definitely. Otherwise the first time you find difficulty you’ll be more inclined to give up and say, this isn’t for me. When you’re facing tiredness, it’s not easy but you can push through if you feel supported.
Did you have any idea in the beginning how long you would actually like to breastfeed for?
Actually no, I just left it open. If someone told me I would be breastfeeding for two or three years of my life, constantly, I probably wouldn’t have liked the idea! (laughs) - it sounds daunting doesn’t it?! But, now that I am here, it’s absolutely fine.
What advice would you give to other new mummies and mummies-to-be, having gone through the whole experience?
Not to give up. Anyone can breastfeed but you do have to be persistent and patient and take good care of yourself because if you’re not well, then obviously that impacts everyone. Follow a healthy diet and do everything you can to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need.
Thank you so much to Andriani for sharing her personal breastfeeding experience, whilst simultaneously chasing Finn as he peddled his little motorbike :)