Tag Archives: tandem nursing

API Announces New Attached Family Edition: “Voices of Breastfeeding” Double Issue

By Rita Brhel, Editor of Attached Family magazine, API’s Publications Coordinator, and an API Leader (Hastings, Nebraska, USA)

Bf 2014- Advocacy CoverThe core of Attachment Parenting is responding with sensitivity.

API recognizes that breastfeeding can be difficult in our society. It is hard to do something different than our family and friends, who are our social network prior to becoming parents, and to find a new support system for our choices. It is hard to navigate new motherhood relatively alone, compared to other cultures where family rallies together to give the mother a “babymoon”—a time when mom and baby can bond uninterrupted while housework and caring for other children are taken up by others in her life. It is hard to make the choice to return to work and then try to integrate a child care provider into our way of parenting. It is hard to pump while away from baby. And it is hard to continue to push through difficulties, whether they be a poor latch or milk supply issues or teething or night waking, when so many others in our lives are trying to convince us to just give a bottle of formula.

But breastfeeding, like any choice made through the lens of Attachment Parenting, is ultimately about responding with sensitivity to our babies (and toddlers). There are great nutritional and health benefits to feeding breast milk, but what makes breastfeeding special enough for many mothers to continue despite societal pressure and their personal hurdles is that breastfeeding is more than a way to feed their babies—it offers the beginnings of a relationship with their child that cannot be easily replicated another way.

The human mother was designed to breastfeed so that a relationship is borne from the effort—from the mother and her baby learning about each other and what will work or not, from the gaze between each other, from the oxytocin rush each receives, from the gentle discipline necessary in teaching baby not to bite or to eventually night-wean, from the mother finding her balance while caring for her baby, from the mother learning to be flexible as baby grows and needs change. We can find a bit of each of Attachment Parnting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting within the act of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding behavior is very literally the embodiment of responding with sensitivity to our babies—and responding with sensitivity is a skill and art form that all mothers need no matter their child’s age.

In this special edition of Attached Family, through the “Voices of Breastfeeding: Advocating for Acceptance” issue, we take a look at the cultural explosion of breastfeeding advocacy, as well as the challenges still to overcome. API writer Sheena Sommers begins this issue with “The Real Breastfeeding Story,” including a look at “Extended Breastfeeding Around the World” by API writer Rivkah Estrin, followed by API Professional Liaison Patricia Mackie’s interview with the founder of Breastfeed, Chicago! and finally, I present researcher Jeanne Stolzer as she makes “Nature’s Case for Breastfeeding.” Scattered throughout this issue are parent stories, project highlights and additional resources from around and beyond API.

Bf 2014 Challenges smThat said, not all mothers are able to breastfeed.

Thankfully, the key behaviors of breastfeeding can be mimicked while giving a bottle of expressed milk or formula to a baby. A mother-baby pair unable to breastfeed, therefore, is not necessarily unable to form a secure attachment. That is the beauty of Attachment Parenting.

The reason breastfeeding is considered a key element in Attachment Parenting is because it is this very act that is nature’s best teacher for new parents in how to sensitively and consistently respond to their babies, forming the foundation of reciprocity of a healthy relationship meant to serve the parent-child dyad for a lifetime.

Largely due to cultural pressures, even when mothers are able to get breastfeeding off to a good start, there is a sharp overall decline in breastfeeding rates in the weeks and months after delivery. If mothers do not have adequate support when breastfeeding problems arise, premature weaning often happens. There is even less support for teaching mothers who feed by bottle how to do so within the parent-child relationship framework.

This time of learning how to parent is crucial to the mother-infant relationship. Attachment Parenting helps mothers—whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding—view infant care in the context of the holistic parent-child relationship and learn how that give-and-take interaction that builds the foundation of secure attachment can be applied beyond feeding with love and respect.

Through the “Voices of Breastfeeding: Meeting Challenges with Compassion” in this special edition of Attached Family, we take a look at the “other side” of breastfeeding advocacy—championing compassion for the mother who encounters challenges in breastfeeding and who may not be able to breastfeed at all. API’s The Attached Family.com Editor Lisa Lord opens this issue with “When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work,” followed by a look at a “Mom-Inspired Milk Bank” by API writer Kathleen Mitchell-Askar and the debute of API’s Parent Support Deserts project—each with accompanying parent stories (including that of Sara Jones Rust, who graces the cover), project highlights and additional resources from around and beyond API.

While we at API wish that breastfeeding was possible, and fulfilling, for all mother-baby couples, it is as Wendy Friedlander of New York City, USA, says on page 8: “In the end, it doesn’t matter because they loved her. When it comes to a situation where you are low on reserves and low on support, there is only so much one person can do. Your children are getting served by love. That is the number-one thing that serves them.”

Attached Family magazine is free for all API members–and membership is free! Click the link to download your copy or join API today.


Breastfeeding for Two: Tandem Nursing

By Debbie Page, RN, IBCLC, CEIM, director of TheNewBornBaby.com

tandem nursingDid you ever think you would be considering nursing two children at the same time? Probably most of us haven’t thought about that, but many women have done it. Known as tandem nursing, it happens all the time with twins and triplets but can be done also be done with children of different ages – for example, nursing your newborn while continuing to nurse your toddler.

Depending on where you live, tandem nursing may be looked upon as strange and done only for the mother’s sake: “She is just too attached to her children.”

Here, we go again – everyone wants to tell mothers how to mother. That’s not all bad, typically, but many of the mothering or parenting styles in the last 60 years have been all about detachment – a desire to create a completely independent child from birth: “You don’t want your children to be clingy or immature. You want strong, intelligent, mature adults and that only comes if you start teaching your babies or children to separate from you from birth.” Whoa…wait a minute. According to whom? Isn’t it really the opposite? It is the children that are held, cooed to, whispered to, nurtured, and allowed to breastfeed until they are ready to wean that blossom into these incredible adults with their emotional needs having been met.

Many women become pregnant before their nursing child has weaned. They continue to nurse throughout the pregnancy, and when the baby is born, they tandem nurse. Breasts that make milk can make more milk; therefore, you can nurse several children and have plenty of milk for each. I recently read an article written by a mother tandem-nursing all four of her children.

Why Tandem Nurse?

Tandem nursing allows your older nursling to continue breastfeeding until he weans himself, which, for humans, takes place on average at two and one-half years old, although children have been known to breastfeed naturally to seven years old.

For the mother, the longer you breastfeed, the more protection you have against breast, cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancer. Sitting or lying down to nurse during your pregnancy can also help you rest and relax for a few minutes throughout your day.

Letting a child continue nursing provides all of the huge benefits nursing affords, including:

  • Continuous supply of antibodies for protection against illnesses.
  • Healthy building of all the cells in the body and therefore all systems in the body. Breast milk is only 10-percent nutrition; the other 90 percent is designed to build every system in the body. In contrast, formula is only nutrition.
  • Ability to continue to meet the emotional needs of the older child.
  • Development of the lower jaw and palate, which means more room for teeth and may mean no orthodontia needs.
  • Fewer allergies and/or delayed reactions to allergies.
  • Nutritionally superior food.

Tandem nursing will ease the arrival of the new baby into your nursling’s life. It can help with any engorgement in those first days after your milk comes in. Nursing the older sibling at the same time as the baby will occupy her when you are feeding the baby.

What Can I Expect in the First Weeks after the New Baby Arrives?

For starters, anticipate that anytime you bring a newborn baby into your home, it is going to be intense, chaotic, and labor intensive. A new baby equals a huge adjustment for all. Fatigue, fatigue, and more fatigue is the story of all new parents, especially parents of the second, third, or so on child. With nursing two or more children, you may experience more fatigue.

There will be a learning curve of figuring out how to make tandem nursing work. Also, your older child may have more frequent stools due to the laxative effect of colostrum.

How Will Tandem Nursing Change My Current Nursing Relationship?

Siblings of the new baby, depending on their age, often regress into infantile behavior. This may still happen with your older nursling. Your older child may suddenly want to nurse all the time. You either go with the flow or set limits. The older nursling may also have temper tantrums or whininess around nursing. Having to share the “num num” may not be within the older child’s comprehension. Your older child may not want to wait for the baby to finish.

You may find yourself feeling irritated with nursing your older child. If you find yourself short of temper, you will want to revisit the idea of tandem nursing. It may be that weaning the older child is in the best interest of the family.

How Do I Breastfeed Two Children?

You will probably nurse the newborn first, although some mothers find that nursing both children at the same time works great. You may want to assign each child a breast. Try lying on your side to nurse your newborn. Your older nursling can lean over your side and nurse on the upper breast.

Something that is very important is support. Make friends with other mothers that either are or support tandem nursing. It will help if you encounter any criticism.

Relax, let the housework go, let your friends and relatives help you, and enjoy these brief periods of your children’s lives. Tandem nursing may just be your answer to letting your children wean naturally as nature intended. They grow up all too quickly. Let’s not pressure our children into premature weaning.

Twins Plus Two

By Heather Eckstein, DONA doula

**Originally published in the Spring 2008 New Baby issue of The Journal of API

Heather's children
Heather’s children

Being a parent comes with a fair share of challenges and rewards. Being a parent to twins seems to mean twice as many challenges and twice as many rewards! One of the guiding beliefs of API is that every family is unique, with unique needs and resources. I have found this to be completely true.

I practiced Attachment Parenting (AP) before I even knew what the term meant. When my first child was born, it seemed natural to meet his needs in a way that encouraged him to trust me and fostered a greater bond between us. Over time, I found more and more benefits to this style of parenting and knew that my instincts were correct when I wanted to hold my baby and nurture him.

In April 2006, I gave birth to identical twin girls in my bedroom as my older children watched. My other children are both boys and they were ages three and one at the time. I knew that our life was going to change when the twins arrived but really had no idea what daily life would be like for our family. I don’t think anything could have fully prepared me for the next two years. Continue reading Twins Plus Two