My First Tandem Nursing Experience

March 19th, 2011 by Dionna | 37 Comments
Posted in Feed with Love and Respect, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

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tandem nursing twins

Kristin of Intrepid Murmurings nurses her twins.

I unexpectedly had my first tandem nursing experience this past week.

My sister and her 15 month old son, Rhonin, were visiting. My sister had to run an errand, and I had Rhonin and Kieran back at the hotel. Rhonin was incredibly upset and battling a head and chest cold.

And? He kept signing for “mama’s milk.” I remembered those frantic signs from when Kieran was pre-verbal, and it went straight to my mama heart. Who was I to refuse?!1 But as soon as I started nursing Rhonin, Kieran wanted to be nursed too.

So I did. First we had Kieran and Rhonin both lying sideways, but that wasn’t working. Then I positioned both of them in a football hold. That’s what worked until Shawna returned minutes later.

It was an interesting, and frantic, experience. But I was pretty proud that I was able to nurse two screaming kids into sniffly silence.2

Who knew my first tandem nursing experience would be with a toddler and a preschooler?!

Tell me about your first tandem nursing experience – surely I can’t be the only one who started out with my own child plus somebody else’s!

  1. I’ve nursed Rhonin once before with my sister’s blessing, and she knows I would want her to nurse Kieran if the situations were reversed.
  2. In the back of my mind, I was thinking “must have Tom take a picture!” But it never calmed down enough for me to actually ask. Darn!

37 Responses to:
"My First Tandem Nursing Experience"

  1. Ruth Ann

    Your thought was MY thought…where was Tom with his trusty camera…lol. I am just grateful that you were able to get both of my precious grandsons happy and at least semi-quiet!!! I love you all!!!

  2. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    That is so funny & fascinating! I’m glad you had just what both boys needed. So far I haven’t been close enough to anyone with a nursling for cross-nursing experiences.

  3. I recently had my first tandem nursing experience too. I nursed a friend’s infant (with my friend’s blessing) and my toddler got a little jealous so I latched him on too.

  4. karyn   kloppenmum

    I tandem fed our four year old with his younger brother on and off during the first year of the baby’s life. I intended to fully tandem feed, but found my breasts were excruciatingly sore when feeding during pregnancy. It happened only a few times, but I remember it fondly.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’ve heard the same thing, and it’s not something I look forward to! Kieran only nurses going to sleep, for the most part now, so it probably wouldn’t be that much of an issue if I got pregnant. Much better than a year ago when he still nursed all the time!

  5. My first tandem experience was with my sister’s son. Something about sisters, I guess. He was about 5-6 weeks old. My own son was 5 months. I had talked to her about wanting to have another child soon so that I could experience tandem nursing. Ha! She said “You should just nurse L.” So I did while she got to enjoy a whole 3 hour nap without interruption!

  6. My sister assumed I would be cool with her nursing my daughter, to help her milk flow for her son. I was a bit weirded out by the idea, but it was never needed so never requested specifically. Her son was a preemie.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      What a great idea – I wouldn’t mind nursing another’s baby for that same reason, simply because it took so long for my milk to come in with Kieran!

  7. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    Wow – Good for you!

  8. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ   TouchstoneZ

    Good for you (and good for them) It wasn’t that long ago that it was commonplace for women to nurse one another’s children. I wonder if we lost our mama culture so rapidly in part because it was never considered important enough to record? So, when new “rules” came along or were imposed, one generation is enough to make the norm seem alien.

    My first personal experience tandem and tri-andem nursing is with my own children, who are each about 2 years apart. But, one of my children was breastfed by another.

    I went into the hospital for emergency surgery, leaving an exclusively nursing 8mo at home and a still actively nursing toddler. My freezer stash was wiped out and the call went out for donated milk within my local crunchy moms group. The donations were overwhelming. In fact, I was able to donate what we didn’t need to another mama.

    A good friend who was tandem nursing her own children came over to help my husband out and decided to nurse my baby because he was needing that comforting touch. My husband told me that for the first time since I was in the hospital, my son was able to sleep peacefully. No one checked with me first and I was surprised that I had a momentary spike of proprietary mama bear reaction. But I was, and will forever be, grateful to this woman who gave this gift to my son.

  9. Crunchy Babe   CrunchyBabe

    Yes, I have! I tandem nursed our son and our daughter…started when she was born and he was almost two. We stopped the day before his third birthday. It was one of the most fulfilling mothering experiences I’ve ever had. I am looking forward to tandem nursing our daughter (now 21 months old) and our newest addition due in October. ??

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Congrats on #3!! I always dreamed of tandem nursing Kieran and a sibling, but as he gets older (and we still aren’t pregnant), I’m not sure whether that will be a reality :(

  10. Violetsouffle   Rainbowsouffle

    Oh that’s really so so dear! I almost cried. I wish sometimes I had someone I was close enough to to share nurturing my child in the deepest way-through my milk. Beautiful.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I have several friends who I simply would not bat an eyelash if they’d nursed Kieran. In fact, our will specifies several local mamas who agreed to wet nurse Kieran if I was unable to!

  11. Julia @ A Little Bit of All of It   JuliaLittleBit

    I watch a 4.5 month old during the day who is formula fed and it is often a frustrating experience to not be able to nurse her. I knew it was a wonderful parenting tool to be able to nurse my own (2 yrs old this week) but I now can see how incredibly invaluable it is. Nursing helps with parenting SO much! One of my cousins and I had the discussion about if it was ever needed that we would nurse the other’s child but no situation has ever arisen where it has happened.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      The few times I had to leave Kieran with a friend when he was younger, it was with the specific instructions to nurse him if he got too upset.

  12. i love this. so many times, when i see a sad baby (especially ones in car seats, in shopping carts, being ignored), i want to scoop it up and nurse. so nice that you could provide for everyone!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Me too! Once in a restaurant a little girl fell and bumped her head and was hysterical. Kieran was still just signing at the time, and he pointed and signed “mama milk.” I said yes, I bet mama’s milk would help. He went for my shirt and signed “mama!” “mama milk!” – he wanted to share me with her :)

  13. Lovely post and LOVE the picture – my sister and I were discussing this the other day. She thinks the thought of nursing someone else’s child is ‘disgusting’… I dont. Specially when it NEEDS it. It’s a bit sad. But anyway. Love your post :)

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I think a lot of people would probably share her opinion, but they’re just not educated or exposed enough to breastfeeding. That’s what we’re here for though, right? ;)

  14. Kelly   BecomingCrunchy

    I’ve never had this experience but I love the story – thank you for sharing!

  15. Aww! this is sweet. I have never tandem nursed myself but I remember one time staying at my aunt and uncles house with my cousins when I was about 6 years old . My little sister and my little cousin were about 6 months apart. My mom was out for the day and I remember coming in the living room and my aunt was holding her son and my sister and nursing them both. We all thought it was really fun and I remember her telling my uncle to go and get the camera. I would love to see that photo today! My sister is 25 years old now.

  16. Ashley Smith

    I nursed my twin boys together from day one. And weaning them once I was pregnant again didn’t seem like an option. Now I have 32 mo twin nurslings and an almost 4 mo nursling. But my sisters baby has had my expressed milk and I regularly donate to my friends who adopted last month. I know that if the situation arose I wouldn’t think twice about scooping up my nephew and nursing him.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      That is amazing Ashley! I would love for you to share sometime in our “Joys of Nursing Past Infancy” series!

  17. Cady

    What a sweet story. Love your phrase “sniffly silence.” It’s more often than not what does the trick for my toddler too. :)

  18. Jessica - This is Worthwhile   tisworthwhile

    This warms my heart in so many ways. Beyond just the tandem breastfeeding aspect it hearkens to a time when women were bound by motherhood beyond just sharing tips, they shared each other’s bodies and resources. Just beautiful.

  19. Terri Henry   onelovelivity

    I loved reading this. I have often felt that I would be perfectly at ease nursing another persons child, but I’ve never put it into practice. I just linked to this post in my updated post on tandem nursing – we’ve been at it for 18 months now and going strong!

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