You may remember back during World Breastfeeding Week I wrote a post about how I used to think breastfeeding was gross. Which is hilarious if you know me, because now I talk about all the time and do it everywhere without a cover or any real attempt at discretion, without a second thought. And I’m honestly not trying to be obvious or offend people–I just don’t care, and I do it in the way that’s most convenient for me.
Now, a little over two weeks into tandem nursing, I’ve experienced a similar transformation.
Even after I became a breastfeeding convert, I thought tandem nursing was abnormal. I don’t mean that in an offensive way–I just don’t think it’s biologically normal for humans. I think that most mothers in most of human history have weaned their older child when a new baby came along. In hunter-gatherer societies, the average age span between children is four years, because the mother doesn’t have another baby till she’s ready to wean the first. (The first also needs to be old enough to walk fast enough to keep up with the traveling tribe without being carried.) Most women in human history would not have had enough nutrition available to nurse two children at once (which is probably part of why twins were considered unlucky in many cultures), so the older one would have to wean.
This theory, although not scientific, is supported by a lot of the anecdotal stories I’ve read about tandem nursing. Nursing two babies at once may sound like an super-hippie earth mama thing to do (and okay, it probably is), but the reality of many women’s experience is that tandem nursing is not fun. From what I’ve read, it’s very common for mothers to have strong negative feelings about nursing the older child. Many talk about feelings of aversion toward the nursing toddler and a “creepy-crawly feeling” every time the older child latches on. And even though many women tandem nurse despite these feelings, I didn’t particularly want to.
And so I decided when Anastasia was a baby: I wasn’t going to tandem nurse. I would breastfeed her till she was done and weaned herself, and then I would have another baby. She would probably self-wean when she was about four.
But when I realized at three that she was still nursing as frequently as a newborn, and Matt and I both were really starting to want another baby, well, I decided I would just suck it up and deal.
So throughout this pregnancy, I’ve been preparing to deal with tandem nursing. I expected to hate it. I expected to have creepy-crawly aversive feelings. I expected to look at Anastasia and think she looked like a giant and what the heck was she doing on my BOOB, for goodness’ sake?!? I expected to be miserable but do it anyway because I care about both my kids and I’m the mom and I can handle it. And besides, I had tons of oversupply with Anastasia and I figured I probably would have the same problem with my second baby, and tandem nursing would reduce engorgement so it wouldn’t be that bad.
But I really didn’t expect to love tandem nursing.
I guess I’m even more of a crazy-hippie-earth-mama than I thought.
Because I can still hardly believe this–and it may well change–but right now I love it. I really do. Instead of feeling the other boob get painfully engorged while I nurse Teddy on one side, I nurse one on each side and feel comfortable. Instead of having boobs that never get fully emptied, not once, till my baby is over a year old, I can fully empty my boobs anytime I want. And it doesn’t hurt or feel uncomfortable at all when Anastasia latches. Yes, I’m limiting her to only a few nursing sessions per day, but I’m doing that more for her than for me–I’m pretty sure that if I let her she would go back to a breastmilk-only diet, which can’t possibly be healthy for her at this age.
And sure enough, it looks like I have ample supply for two (at 13 days old Teddy was one ounce shy of a pound over his birth weight), so I may as well enjoy it. I’m even going to pay it forward this time–I plan to donate milk as soon as I figure out how to use the pump I borrowed. Because clearly I missed my calling in life, and I should have been a wet nurse. It’s a shame I can’t get a job doing that these days–I’d be a rich woman.
In the meantime, maybe I should have another baby. Although three at once may be a bit much for even me to handle.
Maybe I’ll stick with pumping. For now. Unless somebody has a baby they want me to wet nurse?