Nursing For Two

my totally late post to commemorate World Breastfeeding Week

in a municipal park in Reykjavik, Iceland, July 2012

Ellie was still nursing when we found out that I was pregnant with Baby B2.  And by nursing, I mean NURSING.  At 18 months, she was nursing every 2-3 hours during the day as well as a few times at night.  Nursing was probably still her primary source of nutrition, although she did eat solid food as well.

Soon, however, the new baby hormones took over from Ellie and my milk started changing, getting thinner and saltier.  By around 16-17 weeks pregnant, my milk was totally gone, as happens to most women during the middle of their pregnancy.  During that time, Ellie started to showed a remarkably increased interest in solid food and also started being willing to drink cow’s milk.  (We had offered it to her from the time she turned one but she never would take more than a sip or two.)

But, she still nursed and nursed.  We went through a week or more in mid-May when she was waking me up almost every hour (every hour!) at night in a desperate attempt to get more milk.  It was at this point that we realized two things:

  1. Ellie was hungry.  We were spoiled by the convenience of breast milk and so weren’t accustomed to making sure she ate lots of food during the day.  We started giving her a big bowl of yogurt and a big glass of milk right before she went to sleep as well as offering her more solid food during the day.  This helped a lot.
  2. It was time to night wean.   Using Dr. Jay Gordon’s gentle method (although we did it more slowly than he says), we gradually, with very few tears, helped Ellie learn that she didn’t need to eat at night.  We didn’t expect her to do this right away – after all, for her whole life up until then, she’d been able to eat at night!

Now (at 22 weeks pregnant for me), Ellie has dropped most of her nursing sessions during the day.  She nurses when she wakes up, to go to sleep for her nap, and to go to sleep at night, with the occasional “I’m grumpy” or “I’m hurt” session thrown in as needed.  She usually sleeps most of the way through the night also, occasionally waking up around 2:00 or 3:00 but usually between 5:30-6:30.  (Sadly, we seem to have an early riser on our hands!)

Most babies who are still nursing when their mamas get pregnant fall into three categories:

  1. Their mamas wean them before the new baby is born because the mamas don’t want to be nursing two babies at once.
  2. They self-wean because there’s no milk, so what’s the point?
  3. They just keep on nursing because nursing is their life and they want to nurse forever.

Guess which category Ellie is in? 🙂

We’ll see if Ellie continues on her “I will never quit” trajectory for this whole pregnancy.  If she’s still nursing during the last few weeks of my pregnancy, then she’ll start getting the colostrum that my body will be making in anticipation of the new baby being born.  And if she’s still nursing after the baby is born, then eventually she’ll get to feast on that rich newborn milk and will be amply rewarded for sticking it out through the dry months!

I still haven’t decided if I’m going to be willing to nurse two babies simultaneously (as in both Ellie and B2 nursing at the same time).  Some tandem nursing mamas do it that way and others keep the nursing sessions separate.  I figure that we’ll just see how that goes once the new baby is here.

I honestly never thought I’d be in the position of considering tandem nursing but I can’t imagine weaning Ellie now and the new baby is coming.

And so, right now, I am enjoying the amazing privilege of feeling Ellie nursing and B2 kicking at the same time.

Three of us, together, in one place, intimately connected.

I am grateful for this gift.


I learned much of what I know about tandem nursing from the amazingly informative and useful book, Adventures in Tandem Nursing:  Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond.  It helped answer many of my questions, answered more questions that I didn’t know I had, and in particular, helped allay any fears that I might have had about the safety of nursing during pregnancy.  I highly recommend it for any woman who is still nursing when she gets pregnant again, even if you plan to wean your older child before the new baby is born.

Any questions about tandem nursing?  Ask and I’ll try to answer them!

This entry was posted in baby, Ellie, nursing, parenting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Nursing For Two

  1. Allyson Sponsler says:

    Laura-My daughter knew you at Houghton. I am now an RN, IBCLC, and I work for the WIC Program in our county. I am so EXCITED to see a young Mom giving her ALL to her babies!! I have had a few mothers nurse through their pregnancies and tandem nurse afterwards, and they make me so proud!! I breastfed all four of my kids, although they weaned before new babies came. :o( I love your photo, your story, and your dedication. God bless you!!!, Allyson S.

    • Laura says:

      Of course! Kate’s mother! Thanks so much for leaving me this comment – I would love to work as a lactation consultant some day! And I’m so glad to hear that WIC is promoting nursing like that!

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