The Truth About Tandem Nursing

I considered myself a sort of hippy before the idea of tandem nursing.  And I still do. But many people will probably think I’m a full blown crazy, hippy after reading this. But like most things I do, I did this too, after much research and deliberation. Here is the story of the end of one journey and the beginning of the next:

I exclusively breastfed my first born and found out I was pregnant when she was around 18 months old.  The thought of weaning her broke my heart.  We had a beautiful breastfeeding relationship and I loved it. I wasn’t ready for it to end.

tandem nursing

Enter the idea of tandem nursing.

It didn’t really occur to me until I stumbled upon an article about it (probably on Pinterest) that I didn’t have to wean her just because I was having another baby. Like most things in our goofy society nowadays, it is uncommon to tandem nurse and so it is not talked about much.

After much research I came to the conclusion that it would be best to nurse through the pregnancy and to tandem nurse after baby got here.

Everywhere that I read said that tandem nursing would help the transition with a new baby, would help siblings to bond and over all make it easier on mama.

Only it didn’t happen like that.

To start with, I almost gave up immediately because the pain was horrible. You see, when you become pregnant again your hormones change and your nipples become super sensitive and painful when breastfeeding. But alas I am stubborn and did not want to wean Vera quite yet.  Tandem nursing was in sight and everything would be better!

So the pregnancy went on and my nipples became less sensitive.  We did start to wean very slowly, just dropping a feeding here and there.  When baby Lilah came (her VBAC birth story is here) we were only nursing at nap time and night time.

tandem nursing

Lilah’s entry into the world was wonderful and everything I hoped for. Tandem nursing was not.

I came to dread Vera nursing, even as little as it was.  Just four feedings a day and I was starting to grow weary of Vera nursing. Then the weariness turned to disgust.  Then the disgust turned negative and was bringing mine and Vera’s relationship down.

And on top of the icky feeling I had about Vera nursing, she regressed and wanted to nurse every time the baby did. I tried to let her and just couldn’t shake the negative emotions.

I wrestled with all these different emotions for a while before coming to a solid conclusion. I felt that I was being a bad mom, I thought I would drive more separation between Vera and Lilah or Vera and me, I felt like all these other women could do it and I couldn’t, I thought there might be something wrong with me.

After dissecting all of these thoughts and feelings, I finally decided I needed to wean Vera completely.  It was what was going to be best for all of us.  All of our relationships.

And so that’s what we did. I slowly took away one feeding at a time.  She fussed a little but nothing too bad.  Nothing like I thought it would be.

tandem nursing

And you know what? I am at peace with it.  Vera and I had a beautiful breastfeeding relationship and it lasted a while.  But I am ready to let that era end and move onto cherishing Vera on a different level, and cherishing the new journey I have with Lilah. 

So fellow Mamas, the moral of the story here is don’t compare yourself to others.  Your journey is independent and unique.  It does not make you a bad mom if you can’t do the same as other mamas. And if your journey doesn’t go as planned relish in the good parts and let go of the bad.  My ability to tandem nurse doesn’t define me and it doesn’t define you. 

What about you? Have you tandem nursed? Have you had to let go of plans and expectations in order welcome something new? Do you fall victim to mommy comparison?

You may also like

  • I had positive experiences with tandem nursing a few times, and feel that it did a lot to prevent sibling rivalry with the new baby. But, I do recognize that ick feeling, and I think many moms are shocked by their feelings towards the new baby. And we should listen to those! we have those strong hormones and instincts to protect the most vulnerable one. So it’s perfectly ok to set limits or wean.

    • Ashley Titman

      Yes! I definitely agree that we have strong instincts and should listen to them. I’m glad you’ve had great tandem nursing experiences! I was hoping for one. But maybe next time 😉