When I was pregnant with my first I was determined to have natural birth, no pain relief and breastfeed straight away. Well after our 4 days of induction which ended in a c-sec and my OB/MW giving me every drug possible I felt like I had failed but I was determined that breastfeeding would happen. My daughter was taken straight to the special care nursery after delivery, I got to see her but didn’t get to hold her until I was out of recovery. She was so exhausted from our 4 days of hell and me not knowing how to latch her on properly, we really struggled. Thankfully during this pregnancy my online mummy friends had taught me about expressing antenatally so I asked my partner to run home and bring in my expressed colostrum to top her up. She was given 10mls straight away! Over the next few days in hospital I was told a different way to breastfeed by each midwife that came in. I became extremely frustrated each time I tried to feed as I felt like I was always ‘doing It wrong’ and they always tried to correct me. I remember timing her feeds and my partner and I cheered when she fed for 4 mins straight!! It wasn’t until one of the male midwives came in and helped that we actually got the hang of it! He was amazing at helping her latch on and we finally felt that it would work. I also didn’t know any better at the time and as my daughter lost more than 10% birth weight the midwives pressured me into giving her formula top-ups. I know now that it could have been the start of a road I didn’t want to venture down. Once home, we got into our own routine and way of feeding. Fighting upper lip ties which chaffed my nipples and caused extreme pain each feed we battled on! Topping her up, until her weight gain improved, with extra expressed milk in little cups which she lapped up like a kitten. We were pros at this feeding thing and while I watched other mums around me battle I felt like it came easy for us (thank god!!).
Fast forward to her first birthday we were still feeding, I found out I was pregnant with our son. I have a very close girlfriend who is also a midwife who had a son the same time as my daughter and she fell pregnant with her second only 3 months later. She was the first to teach me about tandem feeding and that it is possible to feed not only during pregnancy but feed two babies of differing ages at once! So she was bombarded with all my questions! I had never really thought about what would happen during the pregnancy so I just went with the flow, but no way was I giving up this breastfeeding thing. We battled aversion, oh the torture of aversion! I can’t even describe what it feels like, just tell you how I wanted to throw my daughter across the room each time she fed. It seriously is the worst feeling I’ve experienced but I knew that my daughter needed me and my amazing milk so we persevered on. Then came my milk drying up, I honestly have no idea if she was getting anything each time she did feed but we continued on through the dry nursing. My milk must have changed taste at some stage late in the 2nd or early 3rd trimester as I remember her having a feed and pulling off and looking at me like what is that! But we continued on and thankfully she didn’t stop. By this time I was determined to continue feeding her to help bring in my colostrum. I also expressed antenatally again for my second bub just in case he needed the top ups (he was also a GD baby). I was determined to get my VBAC with his birth but due to my own issues he was induced a week earlier than his due date and his labour also ended in a c-sec. However this time it was amazing, the curtain was lowered so I saw him being born, the OB delayed cutting his cord and I was allowed to hold him straight away on my chest, a very different birth to his sister’s. In recovery we latched him on and I had colostrum dropping out everywhere. He had a huge feed for about 20 mins before falling asleep on me. My daughter came up to visit later that morning and so begun our tandem feeding journey. I felt lucky the second time, I just knew what to do, knew how to latch him on properly and he also wasn’t as sleepy as his sister was so was much easier to keep awake for a descent feed.
I always get comments by people asking how I do it, and I just say I just do it, I have to so I just do. I feed whichever baby is hungry at the time, they need me and my milk and I’m not going to deny them. My now 2.6yr old is still feeding at least 4 times a day and her brother who is 1 next month is feeding at least 8 times a day. If I have to, I feed them at the same time and it is such a good feeling looking down and seeing them hold hands while they drift off into sleepy milk filled dreamland.
Of course now begins the questioning about when I’m going to wean my daughter, but thanks to the Australian Breastfeeding Project I now see how common it is to be feeding a 2/3 or even 4/5 year old!! I still suffer from aversion with her on occasions but I am determined to let her wean herself. I love breastfeeding and I love being able to share the knowledge I have learnt with other mums in hope of helping them achieve their own goals of breastfeeding.
I honestly couldn’t tell you when our tandem feeding journey will end so for now I just appreciate being able to nourish my babies with my own body.