Six weeks into life with two under two and I’m still alive! YAY ME!
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Sooooo many things to deal with. So many changes. So much juggling. So many emotions. On so little sleep! LOL
One of my biggest adjustments is my breastfeeding situation.
Let’s talk about how to tandem nurse…like a boss.
I am one of those people who LOVES to breastfeed.
There is something so magical and special about giving nutrition to one’s child…directly from one’s own body! I remember the first time I nursed Nugget…I was amazed. Amazed that I was providing her with everything she needed to thrive. WHAT???!
It felt so natural and right to me. I’m so thankful that I am physically able to nurse my babies. When I look at a bag of milk that I pumped (or, in some cases, spilled), I think to myself: THAT came out of ME?????
Tandem nursing has also been awe inspiring to me. When I look down and see my two sleeping beauties nestled on my chest, I feel like my heart is going to explode. I still can’t believe I’m a mama to not one, but two beautiful little girls. And I get to tandem nurse them!
As amazing as breastfeeding is, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows all the time.
Breastfeeding can be challenging…messy…awkward…and painful. (It shouldn’t be painful…but sometimes, it is!) It can also be emotionally and physically taxing.
Here are some tips/tricks/hacks I have discovered to make life easier!
Tip #1: Invest in some comfy gear for at home use.
For me, this meant buying some comfy dresses and cutting them straight down the middle. This way, I could pull the top all the way down and tandem nurse both girls. You want something functional (read: breasts easily accessible). There is nothing more annoying than fumbling around with snaps, ties, zippers, etc. when you have a screaming, hungry baby! I love that I can literally whip out my boob with my semi DIY nursing apparel. (For non-DIY gear, read on to see my favorite nursing tops.)
These dresses were lifesavers post c-section (loose, flowy, lightweight, soft). I lovingly call these my “muu muus” but will only wear them around the house. Since I am a SAHM and tandem nursing, I figured I would need just enough dresses to get me through the week. The rest of my nursing wardrobe I supplemented with old pajama dresses and t-shirts that I also cut. It’s not pretty, but it works! Which brings me to tip #2:
Tip #2: Invest in some cute (and functional) gear.
Eventually, you are going to leave the house and rejoin the land of the living. After several weeks of living in muu muus, I realized I desperately wanted to feel pretty if/when I left the house! I decided on a cute nursing dress and a few nursing tops. Still functional of course, but lovely and not milk stained. I have a rule that I never wear these clothes in the house. These are my going out clothes only! (Granted, I wear the same 3 outfits whenever I go anywhere because I’m only a few weeks postpartum…)
Tip #3: Buy the Haakaa!!
Haakaa, Haakaa, where have you been all my life? I had read about this nifty little gadget when Nugget was first born. At that point in time, however, I had been on a crazy new-mom-I-need-to-buy-every-baby-item-out-there phase and decided to reel it in. So I passed on the Haakaa, thinking it was “just another useless baby item”.
If you are anything like me, within the first few weeks of learning how to tandem nurse, your supply will suddenly skyrocket. (Mine had pretty much dried up during my pregnancy, even though I was still nursing Nugget.) The more the babies nurse, the higher your supply will be.
Most of the time, when I am nursing Peanut, Nugget will sidle on up to the tap too. When I am only nursing one, however, the other boob sometimes decides, “Hey! I want in on the action too!” and just starts springing a leak. Within seconds, my entire dress (and sometimes baby) is soaked. NOT FUN, especially if baby was asleep!
The Haakaa is so easy and effortless. I’m amazed by how much milk I’ve already stored WITHOUT having to pump! One tip: fold down the top before placing over your breast, release, then squeeze the bottom to get a good suction. Another tip: avoid emptying the dishwasher, baby’s feet, and other jerky movements while wearing Haakaa or you’ll be crying over spilled milk! Empty the Haakaa into a bottle or bag before it gets too heavy/full.
Tip #4: Have milk storage bags/bottles ready on standby.
When that Haakaa seems to be filling up, empty it into a bag or bottle and re-plop it back on. Don’t make the same mistake I did and let it get too full. Because gravity.
These are my favorite bags:
Tip #5: If you *think* you have mastitis, contact your doctor’s office ASAP.
I never had clogged ducts or mastitis when I was nursing Nugget…but I’ve read about it and several friends have had it. During week 3, Peanut and I both overslept. We had been used to nursing every 2 hours (and I think we were now on hour #3 or 4 without feeding). I woke up to an extremely tender and sore breast, fever, aches, and chills. I knew something wasn’t right. Dr. Google led me to believe it was mastitis but I contacted my doctor immediately for confirmation. (It was.) Antibiotics for the win!
Tip #6: Feed your infant first, then your toddler.
This piece of advice was so hard for me in the beginning (I still have my moments). At Peanut’s 2 week check up, she still was not up to birth weight. Both my pediatrician and my IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) suggested I feed Peanut first, since nursing is providing her with all of her nutrition and Nugget second, since she is most likely nursing for comfort. The tricky part is juggling Nugget while Peanut nurses…she wants to tandem nurse! It’s hard for me to see her upset because she doesn’t understand why she has to wait.
For the most part, we do a pretty good job during the daytime (I will read to Nugget while nursing Peanut). At night, however, I usually tandem nurse them (if they both wake up at the same time). Bed sharing makes this possible! (Read more about my accidental journey to bed sharing.)
Tip #7: Find ways to connect with your toddler.
Since Peanut is attached to me almost the entire day, I feel it is important to find other ways to connect with Nugget. I give her as many snuggles as I possibly can (when she’ll let me) and try to accommodate her if she asks to nurse. She also helps me burp Peanut (usually while nursing), which is adorable and hilarious. We read together throughout the day and Hubs and I take turns spending one-on-one time with her.
Tip #8: Have extra muu muus, rags, and nursing pads all over the house.
If you’re anything like me, you hate wearing a bra. Especially at home. So I don’t…but this comes at a hefty price, especially for a lactating mama. Lately, I’ve been gushing milk unceremoniously at all hours of the day, leaving me soaking wet! (Today I sprang a leak at the OBGYN’s office during my exam. Oh, joy!) When I’m home, rather than having to rush upstairs to change, I can just quickly swap out my muu muu for the one that’s waiting for me in the same room I’m in. 🙂
Of course, this problem could be solved if only I would wear the darn bra and nursing pads. (You could do that too.) But I prefer to be free!
(Read on to see my other “must have” breastfeeding items!)
Tip #9: Experiment with a few positions to tandem nurse and find the one(s) that work best for you.
If we are on the couch, I hold Peanut in one arm and Nugget is usually doing her acrobatic act on the other side. If we are in bed, I either sit up with pillows propped up behind me and under Peanut or I lay flat and kind of side nurse Peanut while Nugget is draped over my other side/onto my stomach. Oftentimes, Peanut needs assistance with latching, so my opposite hand is holding my breast but my arm is draped over Nugget’s head. It’s an amusing sight, I’m sure, but for now, it works for us!
Tip #10: Learn how to do things with one hand, while nursing an infant, while walking around.
I’m not even joking about this one. Given the amount of hours there are in a day and how long each nursing session lasts, the girls would be in college if I waited until I was done nursing to do anything. I have become moderately adept at heating up food and
chasing feeding a toddler, reading, snuggling, and wiping tears WHILE nursing an infant. I am strategic with this, of course, and nurse the infant on my left side so I can use my right hand. #WINNING!
Tip #11: Sprout wings and an extra pair of hands.
HA! Just kidding. I wish.
Tip #11: If/when possible, food prep. And have “easy” foods on hand.
I have discovered that I barely get to eat. So many foods require washing, cutting, chopping, etc. This is challenging if I am engaging in Tip #10. So I often don’t eat. This, of course, is not a sustainable way of life! Hangry mama = no bueno.
“Easy foods” I like to have on hand are foods that I can literally eat with one hand. Apples, bananas, nuts, granola bars, hummus, peanut butter…
Boil and peel eggs en masse. Wash and cut up fruit. Cut cheese into cubes. Wash, peel, and slice veggies. Boil pasta. Cook large portions and have leftovers. When possible, think ahead.
Tip #12: Stay hydrated!
Hardest one for me when I had one nursling…now my body DEMANDS liquid! Try to have a bottle of water nearby at all times and drink when babies drink! (Or afterwards, LOL.)
I needed a water bottle that was Nugget friendly, since she often confiscates my food and drink. This is what I ended up buying. My favorite part is that it’s leak free and Nugget is able to use it on her own.
Tip #13: Take time for yourself.
When I first wrote this post, I had just started my tandem nursing journey. Currently, Nugget is 2 1/2 and Peanut is 14 months old. Let me just say that IT IS IMPERATIVE YOU TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. Tandem nursing is beautiful and amazing but also physically and emotionally demanding. No one is happy if mama isn’t happy. You must make sure to refuel your engine!
It’s a work in progress and my journey has just begun…but it’s totally worth it.
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Best of luck,