Friday, September 6, 2013

Breastfeeding the Second Time Around and Tandem Nursing

Baby Brother was born knowing how to latch on and that is a blessing I do not take for granted. While he did not nurse immediately following the birth, within a couple of hours he sure did and by his second day of life my milk had come in and we were on our way. During the early weeks, we woke Baby Brother up every two hours during the day to feed and I think that was instrumental in getting his days and nights sorted out, because in no time he was giving us a 4-5 hour stretch at night which by 6 weeks extended to 8-9 hours! (Of course since this post is about nursing and not sleep I will not go into details but he's not giving us that same stretch at the moment).

Along the way, we have definitely had a few bumps. First and foremost, dealing with MSPI has been rough. Secondly, just as with Little Boy I have gotten a few blocked ducts and once almost mastitis, but being hyper-aware of this and pulling out the pump and nursing in crazy positions we have managed to avoid anything serious. With Little Boy I was able to take lecithin to prevent the blocked ducts, but since I am soy-free I haven't been able to do that and have been relying on drinking lots of water and pumping to take care of any issues as they come up.

Things that have made a big difference in my comfort this time around have been:

  • Getting a glider; I love it and have not had any back pain from leaning over while sitting on the bed. 
  • Learning to nurse in the side-lying position: we started at about 6 weeks and quickly mastered it helping night wakings be MUCH easier to handle. 
  • Using a My Brestfriend pillow in the early days for better positioning, then a Boppy for a little while after that, and now nothing because the kiddo is big and just lies in my lap. 
  • Focusing 100% of my effort on breastfeeding in the early days. No cleaning, no cooking, no worrying about guests (and yes I was nursing in the living room with no cover). The only thing I did other than nursing/carrying/changing Baby Brother was trying to spend quality time with Little Boy. I really think this is essential in establishing a good groove and I wish it was easier for other new moms to do just that.

Other differences? I have not been pumping on a regular basis, just as needed and a few short sessions here and there with the manual pump in the early days to make a small freezer stash. If I'm feeling particularly full I just pump a couple of ounces and call it a day. Baby Brother has never had a bottle, so at this point even if he were to get pumped milk we would just move onto a cup. I never use a nursing cover. Ever. It it is a pain to get situated with it, a pain to keep it in place, an extra thing to carry, and mostly because I just don't care. I actually see myself as a walking poster board for breastfeeding (in a place where it's not very popular) and when asked people are actually shocked that Baby Brother is such a big baby and has been fed solely breast milk until the past couple of weeks when we started solids. Finally, the biggest difference of all is that I am tandem nursing.

My milk monsters

During Baby Brother's first week of life, Little Boy did not get to nurse. M would do the bedtime routine with him and that was that. By the end of the week though, Little Boy was begging to nurse and I felt comfortable that Baby Brother was nursing well and establishing my supply so I let Little Boy nurse before he went to bed. During the next few weeks, Little Boy was extremely jealous and wanted to be a baby as well and so he began nursing before his nap time and then for a short time upon wake-up as well. He did/does not like to share, so I do not nurse them at the same time. This was exhausting and I actually felt like it was too much for me (physically).

As soon as we left town, just before Little Boy turned two, that morning session was eliminated (by M getting him from bed). Since then we have stuck with twice a day, but now that Little Boy is going to preschool we are working on eliminating the pre-nap session as well since I'm just getting tired of it. I don't offer if he doesn't specifically ask. Our bedtime session is the only one I really enjoy because Little Boy is calm and gets his cuddles and one-on-one time with Mommy. It is always after Baby Brother has already gone to bed, so I am not worried about him and Little Boy can take his time.

What more is there to say? I never in a million years imagined going down this road, but if it helps keep my boy healthy (the research indicates it does), well then I'm not going to push him to wean (at least for a little while longer). 

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