Tandem & Triandem Breastfeeding through Pregnancy.

the way my mind organizes these memories is into two distinct categories: nursing while pregnant during the 1st half of the pregnancies, and nursing during the 2nd half of pregnancies.

pgc #2 (nursing 1 toddler, 8 mos at conception, 16 mos at birth)

fear (can this really cause a miscarriage?)
guilt ( who am i shortchanging more - the baby that needs milk or the fetus that the ob says i am putting at risk?)
thirst !
love/affection for nursling
fierce protectiveness (i'm going to try to do everything i can not to take this (milk) from you.
relief (found LLL!)


burgeoning confidence (this isn't as hard as i've heard!)
gratitude (body is making enough milk for toddler and keeping fetus healthy!)
fear and hope (i hope this pgc doesn't make you wean before you would otherwise)
worry (can't feel letdowns any more and it's becoming painful, is this normal?)
pain (it feels like gravel is passing through my nipples when you nurse !)
triumph and pride (you nursed through the whole pgc and i hung in there despite the cpl wks of discomfort! yay for us!)

pgc #3 (nursing one boy aged 3 and one toddler aged 1)

concern (can i nurse 2 thru a pgc and not be increasing the risk of miscarriage?)
gratitude (a reason to sit down and rest when i have to nurse you both)
surprise (i really feel tightening of the uterus and an urge to pee as soon as you start nursing)
fierce devotion ( i won't let the imminence of a new baby change the way i nurture you)
pride ( i don't know very many ppl who've nursed 2 children while pg !)


pain (oh, there's that gravel in the nipples again - i'd hoped that was a fluke !)
claustrophobic (oh no, here they come to nurse again and i'm so big and uncomfortable i feel like they're smothering me)
restless (are you done yet?)
skin crawly (what happened to the way they nurse ? suddenly they feel like they're all teeth and scrapy cat's tongues !!)
bargaining (if i can make it through just 10 more minutes, they won't wean b/c of the pregnancy)
relief (once you've nursed for a little while and i can hear you gulping, all the discomfort goes away and i am so glad to be breastfeeding you both still)
triumph and terror (neither of you weaned through the whole pregnancy and now i have a third!)

pgc #4 (nursing 4 yr old, 3 yr old and 6 month old)

determination (i've done 2, 3 can't be that much harder, besides the oldest hardly nurses much anymore)
concern (can nursing 3 finally be enough to adversely affect the pregnancy?)
thirsty !
have to pee as soon as they latch on
ever present nausea this pgc increases during nursing
suffocation (are they ever going to get off me ? i can hardly breathe)
hot flashes during nursing
skin crawly
underarms prickling as soon as they latch
panic (why is it so horrible this time, is something wrong w/ my hormones? with my pregnancy?)

~2nd half ~

guilt (i hope you guys don't know how much i hate this, this pgc)
cyclical pain (every few wks the gravel-thru-nipples pain is back!)
contractions (constant during nursing this pgc)
gagging (nausea increases enormously during nursing)
resentment (why do none of you ever wean during pgc like the stats say so many do ?)
more guilt (i love you, i want to nurse you as long as you want to nurse, i'm sorry i'm not enjoying it any more)
bargaining (i will give you a sucker if you'll be done nursing for now)
violent fantasies (dear husband, if you tell my children to go ask me for milkies again like my breasts are yours to give out like party favors when you want to bribe or distract them, i am going to wait until you sleep and hurt you slowly and creatively for a long time)
constant worry (surely this time it's going to make the baby come too early, that must be what all these hormonal signs mean)
relief and triumph (i made it again and nobody got hurt or emotionally scarred or weaned!)

pgc #5 (nursing 2 yo and 1 yo)

nervousness (what if it's as bad as the last pgc?)
self-reassurance (it can't be as bad - i'm only nursing 2 again and they are older and on solids so won't need to nurse as much)
tired tired tired
grateful (for the chance to sit down and rest while nursing)
guilty (this pgc is such a surprise, i didn't want to possibly cause you guys to wean, i really hope it doesn't make you wean)
fiercely protective
weepy / emotional


pain (gravel through nipples again but only for a short time mid-pgc, not recurring like last time)
random contractions
smothering (i'm so big and you guys are so big, i feel crushed under all of us)
determined (not much longer and we'll have our family all completed and i'll have no regrets if i can stick it out one last time!)
extreme weepiness
confusion (why am i so weepy when they nurse ?)
more weepiness (why am i so confused i don't even know why i'm crying ?)
profound gratitude (i'm so lucky i've been able to do this so many times, i have to cherish this, it won't last forever)
pride and triumph (made it again, about to be nursing 3 again)

whew! i have to print that out for posterity, it was very intense going back there, i thought about it all day and am so surprised i clearly r/m how very different the experience of bfing was w/ each pgc ! i just wanted to add that no matter what i went through while bfing during pgc, it was all worth it when the older nurslings got their 1st feeding of 'new' milk after the birth. every one of mine almost completely gave up solids for a cpl days when my 'new baby milk' came in and it was sheer heaven to hold them (one at a time on the 'toddler boob') next to the newborn and hear them gulping and sighing in unison w/ eyes rolling back in ecstasy as they stroked the new baby's silky head. if i am lucky enough to be able to prepare for it when my time comes to leave this earth, this is the memory i will conjure up and take with me, it is the very essence of why i work to help women breastfeed.

** update**
I went on to nurse the 3 children above for another 9 months. Then I went on to nurse my last 2 for another 3 1/2 years, until my daughter self-weaned at age 5 1/2.

our 5th child is almost completely self-weaned now, at 5 yrs and 5 months. he is only asking about every 2-3 weeks. we've come full circle and after over 13 years of breastfeeding children without cessation with 11 of those years nursing 2 or 3 at a time, i can look back and say i have never done anything more worthy or rewarding in my life, except perhaps giving birth to them. i will never have to look back with regret and wonder if i'd done it just a bit longer, might they have gotten more benefits? i haven't had to deal with bottle issues, or pacifier issues, or insecurity or object-attachment issues. i am completely convinced it all but eradicated sibling rivalry issues toward new babies coming into the family. i know it saved my last child's life, as there is no formula on the american market that he wasn't allergic to. it wasn't always easy and it wasn't always natural, but it was always the right thing to do. the added bonus of them remembering nursing very clearly is hopefully an increased likelihood that they will grow up to be devout breastfeeding advocates, as well! :-)     Green and Bitchy: the beginning of the end


Emily @ Joyful Abode said...

Thank you SO much for sharing! I'm currently 7 months pregnant and nursing my toddler. I'm really looking forward to the "new baby milk" coming and my toddler getting that again, and tandem-nursing.

Anonymous said...

We had 3 miscarriages before getting pregnant with #2 right after #1's second birthday. Nursed all the way through and I am now nursing my almost 4yo and almost 1 year old! #1 gained 10 lbs in the 2 months following the birth!

jack said...

yay momma milk! :-)

Anonymous said...

wow, wonderful and inspirational! thank you!

maggie vi beedles said...

EMMA! That is PRECISELY how I feel and have felt, and I do mean precisely, though I've only done triandem for 18 months and the duo through ONE pregnancy. And AAAH! the new baby milk snuggles! Thank you for inspiring me to spread my word a bit better :) xoxo

jack said...

i always consider it a compliment when ppl mistake me for booby crusader emma kwasnica, but alas, i am not she. my name is jack gruttadauria - i have 5 children and focus on the food allergies 2 of them deal with on this blog as well as their child-led weaning. i am lucky enough to count emma as a good online friend! :-)

Paala said...

Love this post! I also nursed while pregnant but have not thought about triandem nursing. Wow. I had to share it on my blog - http://doublethink.us.com/paala/2012/03/07/triandem-nursing-what-is-that/

jack said...

i am so honored you featured my blog article, thank you!

triandem nursing is not nearly so daunting as it sounds. and of course it's not really an "all at once scenario" - it's more like "2 at once and the other guy stands in line, holding a number" , LOL!

no, i'm just kidding, it's not even like that.

by the time you nurse a child toward true child-led weaning, you will find that they seldom ask to nurse in public anymore. they really begin to identify themselves as holding the "big sibling" role when they see younger ones nursing so much more often than themselves. they might begin to seek out times they can nurse alone and they begin a pattern of not nursing every day, and then not even every week! sometimes they like to come and snuggle and huddle up while the littler ones nurse.

one of preschoolers loved to put his face right against the newborn and the toddler at the breast and inhale deeply and declare that he could smell the milkies and it was just as good as tasting them. he'd stroke the babies' heads lovingly while they nursed. when the baby would fall asleep, i'd offer to let him nurse now and more times than not, he'd say happily that he didn't need to. the older they get, it becomes more about the reassurance that the bond is still there, not so much about actually taking in the milk. actual nursing sessions for a child of 3, 4 or 5 can be incredibly brief - barely more than a kiss!

it was actually quite easy to triandem nurse during both of my stints doing it, don't let the name intimidate you! if you've already tandem nursed through a pgc and your oldest still wants to nurse alongside the middle and new ones, it will be the most natural thing in the world, enhance the bonding and reduce sibling rivalry amazingly - and you will never regret the bond you forge against any feelings of displacement the growing numbers of children could have brought about in your older child. :-)

Melanie said...

Thank you for sharing!! It has helped me bring everything into perspective. 'all that i'm going through now' is just a simple line on a spectrum of what has been and what is to come! I have been blessed by your words. I've described my daughter's reaction to the baby milk coming in, as 'better than Christmas.' So fun.. I should make better effort to cherish the moment no matter how overwhelming.

jack said...

thanks for reading! i love finding moms who have nursed all the way through pgc. in my work i find that more often than not, pregnancy seems to encourage early weaning. even though it isn't easy, those who can nurse all the way through are very lucky! i also love the stories of toddlers/preschoolers who wean during pgc and then take to the breast again like a fish to water after the new baby is born and the new milk is in! :-)
enjoy it all, b/c sooner than you can imagine, you will miss it. :-)

jack said...

Lauren @ Hobo Mama has left a new comment on your post "Tandem & Triandem Breastfeeding through Pregnancy....":

So happy to read this! I'm currently tandeming a 4-year-old and a 9-month-old, and I'm having so much nursing aversion with the 4-year-old. Your description "they feel like they're all teeth and scrapy cat's tongues" made me laugh in relief, because that's exactly what it feels like! There's something to knowing someone else has been through it.

I lost my milk during the pregnancy, and that still didn't cause my 4-year-old to wean. So I'm currently in the middle of feeling happy I'm able to nurture both kids and bring them closer together, and feeling a little smothered and crawly. Plus, I had major pain nursing during the pregnancy (like little knives stabbing my nipples, constantly), so I'm not sure I want to nurse during another one if we can swing it. But I don't want to wean prematurely, either. It's good to know that not all pregnancies are the same. Anyway, thank you for sharing all your memories — very helpful and inspiring!

(lauren, i am c & p ing your post b/c for some strange reason, blogger kept rejecting it yesterday when i tried to put it through! so sorry about that, i don't know why it wouldn't go through.)

jack said...

so glad they were helpful! not a lot of useful advice, but you're right, there's a lot of comfort in just knowing someone else has been down the same gnarly path and made it out alive! it was worth writing it all down to hear it brings other mamas that comfort. good luck and hang in there, someday you will miss even this, believe it or not!

Mills Family said...

I am so excited to read this!! I am currently triandem nursing my 5, 3, and 1 year olds and we are eager for God to bless us with another-- but at 14 months pp I was starting to worry that I may not even get pregnant again --- my hope is renewed and I can't wait to be blessed with another and probably quadandem nursing--- and oh do I remember the horrendous feelings of tandem nursing through the pregnancy of my babe!! I am hoping to embrace (at least in hindsight) each moment if I am blessed to triandem nurse through a pregnancy!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your candor ! I am pregnant and nursing my 3 1/2 year old and my 15 month old. We could be headed in this direction. You make me feel less crazy and alone. Cheers

Kerrin said...

Really lovely to read this. I'm days away from birthing a new baby and still tandem-feeding the 2 youngest. I'm finding there's more triandem breastfeeders around than I thought there would be! Would you mind if I shared this blog post on a new facebook page I've created, please? ("Triandem Breastfeeding") I think you're very inspiring :) Thank you for sharing your story xo

jack said...

please feel free; i'd be honored! thank you for asking.

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