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Parenting and breastfeeding

SK: Did you and Mattis come into your relationship and marriage with similar parenting philosophies?

Mariana: Luckily, yes. What little we disagreed on got worked out before our first baby was born. We started talking about having children pretty early on as we both very much wanted to be parents at some point in the future, and Velma was very (and I mean very!) planned.

So between just thinking about the future, the time it took us to decide when was the right time to go for it, trying to conceive, and the pregnancy itself, we had loads to time to talk, brainstorm, and work our very few differences out. But we always were, and still are, very much on the same page.

SK: Did you always plan to breastfeed your children?

Mariana: Yes, always. To me, whenever I thought of mother and baby bonding it was the image of a mother nursing her little baby that came to mind. And I guess I always knew it was the best choice as far as health is concerned. When I was 18 I had a breast reduction, and even then my biggest concern was whether or not it'd affect my ability to nurse my future children. Had the surgeon said, "yes, it'll get in the way of breastfeeding," I would have definitely not done it.

SK: How did it go with Velma?

Mariana: At first, not so good, which was hugely disappointing. My nipples were incredibly swollen and her mouth so, so little — she basically only latched on to the nipples themselves, not the areolas and, because of that, I got terribly cracked nipples. It was incredibly painful to nurse! So much so, I'd cry during the evening feedings, when my nipples would be extra sore, and sometimes they bled so much, she'd have to vomit up my blood after a feeding.

"It took me a whole two months until breastfeeding became comfortable."

It took me a whole two months until breastfeeding became comfortable, by which time my nipples had changed shape by elongating and fully healed. I'm glad I plowed through it! Honestly, it sucked, but I didn't care — all that mattered to me was to keep going because I knew I could make it work.

And, luckily, I had the support I needed to do so, between my husband, who was amazing — he held my hand, cheered me on and made sure I never ran out of Lansinoh, my midwife (who had also experienced badly cracked nipples when she breastfed her own baby) and my fabulous online mama friends, who were an invaluable source of support and information, even if from afar.

SK: And when you got pregnant with Viggo, how old was Velma?

Mariana: I found out I was pregnant again nine days before my 30th birthday and 15 before Velma's third. Viggo was very much a surprise. The best surprise of my life, no doubt, but a shocking one none the less. She was just over 3-1/2 when he was born. I was very much terrified I wouldn't be able to manage pregnancy with a toddler, and then a toddler and an infant, and it was really tough for a while, but we all made it out alive!

SK: Did you know that you’d continue to breastfeed throughout your pregnancy, or did it just happen?

Mariana: Oh, no, it was very much a deliberate decision on my part, mostly because I feared that if I weaned her during the pregnancy my boobs would become yet another something for her to feel she had lost over the new baby and be jealous about. I pictured tandem nursing as a possible bonding experience for all three of us, and that kept me going through the difficulties of nursing during a pregnancy. And in the end, I even nursed her during labor!

Adventures in tandem nursing

SK: When was the first time you nursed both of your children at the same time?

Mariana: We kinda tried it during our first bedtime as a family of four the day he was born (he was born at home) but that just didn't happen. I basically nursed Velma whilst also holding him. It wasn't until the next day, in the morning, that we had our first real tandem experience, while I sat reclined in bed. It was amazing, and cozy, and clumsy, and slightly uncomfortable all at once! Finding a good position definitely took a bit of practice.

SK: What are the benefits, in your experience, of tandem nursing?

"It was a safe haven on bonding at a time when I was often exhausted and stressed."

Mariana: First, there are all the obvious health benefits for both nurslings. Then, there's no engorgement! That was pretty great! But all in all, I'd say the best part of tandem nursing for me/us was what it did for our relationship. It was a safe haven on bonding at a time when I was often exhausted and stressed. It was the only time I felt I was filling both children's needs at the same time and didn't have to do a "triage" in my head to decide who to tend to first, and it was very reassuring for the children. They shared so many tender moments at my breasts! It was also a very practical way of getting them both to fall asleep at the same time, for instance.

SK: Have you had any negative comments about tandem nursing?

Mariana: Not at all, though I know the vast majority of the people I know in real life just didn't get why I was doing it. I guess at this point, people know not to mess with me and my boobies! Strangers never approached me either — they mostly just stared in disbelief, if anything. What I also had happen, when tandem nursing around new moms who were having a hard time with nursing in public (struggling with wiggly babies and nursing covers) was that they'd suddenly get pretty brazen. It was great, and I would feel like I was supporting them even if from afar and without words.

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Comments

Comments on "Tandem nursing: Breastfeeding for two"

Sara February 23, 2014 | 7:05 AM

Child abuse in order to satisfy the needs of a needy woman. Shame on you

Erin January 26, 2013 | 12:53 PM

Beautiful!! Thanks for the inspiring story. I breastfed my daughter for just a few months but am pregnant again and would like to breastfeed much longer this time. You're an inspiration :)

Jenna August 14, 2012 | 6:44 PM

Just curious - how old was Velma when she self-weaned? Was that hard for you? Was it sudden or did she gradually slow down? I'm nursing my 32 month old DS and and hoping he continues for many many more months. It took us 7 months to get it straight (reflux, food sensitivities, etc.) and I still have recurrent clogged ducts but I love it and wouldn't change it for anything. Good for you mama! You are an inspiration! Ann Arbor, MI

Heather August 14, 2012 | 1:00 PM

Glad that there is some info out there for moms who would like to tandem nurse. Lots of women are scared off from doctors saying that nursing during pregnancy will cause miscarriage, or later term women will go into labor. That you wont get colostrum....a whole bunch of things that have been proven to NOT be true during a normal healthy pregnancy! I would have LOVED to tandem nurse! I have the utmost respect for mamas who do, and just for the record I think if a mama wanted to breastfeed until her nurseling wants to stop that's perfectly FINE by me! If that means 5+ in my opinion, I believe its a mutual relationship of love and caring between mama and baby and if it meets the needs of the mom and the child, then that's what boobs are for ;) lol. Anyway, great article!

Mariana August 13, 2012 | 11:31 PM

Lisa, yes, my daughter is 6, but she's no longer breastfed. Her brother is still nursing, so i have been nursing continuously for the last 6 years, though not always the same child. :)

Lisa August 13, 2012 | 3:49 PM

I agree that I would like to know more about her experience on breastfeeding than how her and her husband met and how she grew up. She stated she's been breastfeeding for the past six years...does that mean her little girl is six now? I didn't see an age in the article but I may have missed it. That seems way to old in my opinion.

Emma August 13, 2012 | 10:57 AM

I had no idea what tandem nursing was! The picture was a little more than I bargained for and I would have liked more insight on that topic rather than their relationship. I think it is very fascinating.

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