Thursday, December 16, 2010

Toddlers, Breastmilk, and Why I Won't Tandem

So all three of the TGL toddlers are receiving breastmilk. Mother Hen is tandem nursing, Mama Christa is giving Olivia pumped milk and HOPING she'll go back to the tap when Ella gets home, and I am giving Aiden pumped milk daily. But why do our toddlers get breastmilk? Why are Mama Christa and I going to the trouble to give our big kids breastmilk when they don't take it from the tap? Well, breastmilk is awesome...why else?! 2 year olds still benefit from the perfect human milk proteins, the over 200 amazing substances that have been identified in human milk, the purity, and most of all THE ANTIBODIES! It is, afterall, cold and flu all three of our households have been ransacked by stomach flus and head colds over the last two weeks or so.

As a mommy I feel the need to protect my child from severe illness in any way possible...did you know that if you are breastfeeding and someone in your house gets sick, within ONE HOUR your body has developed antibodies to the virus/bacteria and those antibodies are already in your milk? This protects your nursling(s) from getting the illness. It doesn't mean your child will never get sick, but it does mean your child will get sick less often and the illnesses will be less severe. In humans, one of the top ways that viruses and bacteria get into our bodies is through the digestive tract. This is why exclusive breastfeeding protects infants from serious illness, it coats their virgin gut with the good stuff, antibodies, good bacteria, healthy mucous. What is the Virgin Gut?

"When babies are born, they have sterile gastrointestinal tracts. If babies are exclusively breastfed, they develop a natural healthy gut flora. (When I speak of the gut, I mean Baby's insides where the food goes until it hits the diaper.) This means that the major flora in breastfed babies has reduced numbers of bad types of bacteria and increased numbers of good bacteria. Formula-fed babies have increased numbers of bad bacteria, leaving them at more risk for illness"

Additionally, it's interesting to know that the introduction of formula, even just one little 2oz bottle not only interferes with the establishment of a good, solid milk supply (we'll talk about this delicate balance later on) it can change the pH levels of the baby's gut, and it takes 6 weeks for those levels to return to normal! This pH and Virgin Gut theory are the primary reasons behind why formula fed babies are at a higher risk for illness, especially severe illnesses. This is why breastmilk saves lives.

But that's BABIES right? Well, sure it is, but doesn't it stand to reason that an older child would benefit from the antibodies and the more than 200 substances found in that liquid gold? Not to mention, it's even being used to treat and CURE cancer in adults...won't our toddlers benefit from whatever it is that is killing cancer cells? This isn't in cow's milk, or goat's milk, or soy, rice, almond milks. It's in HUMAN milk...substances in HUMAN milk protect human infants and children from illness. Amazing.

Olivia receives almost exclusively pumped milk every day. For one thing, Mama Christa has an abundance of milk to give Olivia...for another, she's a petite child, was premature herself, and needs to stay healthy and strong when Ella comes home. Additionally, have you ever thought about how EXPENSIVE milk is these days?! I know our DHA fortified, organic milk costs more than a gallon of why not save some cash and give the kids some breast milk?

Aiden gets breast milk daily as well, but it is about half  and half compared to cow's milk, but he's getting it. Today he's ONLY getting breast milk because he had a nasty stomach flu yesterday and I'm trying to give him the easiest to digest stuff and take good care of his tummy.

Are you into organic? What's more organic that unprocessed BREAST milk ladies?! Nothing. That's what.

NOW, on to why I prefer that Aiden NOT get his breast milk from the tap. I fully support Mother Hen and Mama Christa in their tandem nursing, not just because they are my friends and I support them no matter what (yes, I would support them even if they were bottle feeding or formula feeding) but because I think that it's good for young children to continue to receive breast milk for the reasons listed above. Personally, however, I get overstimulated and "touched out" as it is by dealing with both boys...especially when Chase is nursing. I do great if Chase is nursing and that's all that's going on, but more often than not, Aiden is also climbing all over me and it would blow your mind the level of anxiety all this clamoring and touching causes me. If I had two children breastfeeding, I'm pretty sure I would LOSE MY MIND. Is this weird? To some, probably, but I'm an abuse survivor...I get touched out, and overcooked in  A LOT of different situations. Part of me, the emotional, I know tandem nursing is a good thing part, would really like Aiden to take up a liking for nursing so I could nurse them both...BUT...1: Aiden is a BIG kid, 30lbs and 3 feet tall, he doesn't need to be on me ok? and 2: that's too much touch for breast would constantly be in SOMEONE's mouth and I"m not cool with that.

Many people wonder why you would nurse a toddler, and why you would tandem. I think the reasons are plain as day when you look at all the wonderful things in and about breastmilk, it really is easier to get it from the tap, so just do it that way. Many people say "I think it's great you tandem nurse/nurse an older child but I would never do it" but what's their reason...usually it's because it actually skeeves them out. Seriously, let's be honest, if you aren't an extended/tandem nurser...deep down, is it because it skeeves you out?! that's usually what's behind that statement, and often people only say the "I think it's great" part because they don't want to make the mom feel bad. Guess what, I'm on to skeeves you out, and you know what...THAT'S OK TOO!! The fact is, around infant feeding/toddler feeding, we need to be supportive of other moms, even when they are not supportive or are skeeved out by what we do. The fact is, you don't know most people's motivations, even if you think you do! Part of the reason Aiden and I ended our nursing relationship early was because I didn't know how to/couldn't handle feeling exposed, used, and WAY overtouched when he started getting screwy at the breast...I couldn't handle it with a toddler for sure. :)


  1. hehe "getting screwy at the breast" is something that Abbey (2) and I have been dealing a lot with lately. Especially with my growing basketball shaped baby belly, and sensitive skin (and nipples) - the things I used to allow her to do while she nursed (which is just a lot of cuddly touchy feely, chest kneading, etc - except for this weird fascination she has with scratching my underarms . . . weird. . . ) I don't allow her to do anymore because it actually is painful for me, pregnant and all.

    BF my toddler definitely doesn't "skeeve" me out, but some of her nursing habits have GOT to go, at least while I am still preggers :)

    Loved your post!

  2. great post! I am so happy that you are having such an awesome nursing experience this time around. I wanna be just like you one day! :)

  3. I just came across your post while serching whether or not giving my 3 yr old breastmilk will help or Please God, cure her eczema. She reacts to peanuts and gets constipated from milk of any kind. She was a extremely fussy and unhappy infant and I believe it was all from the formula I was giving her and I never knew. I also think her allergies are from the lack of breastfeeding from the antibodies and ruining her virgin gut. I'm hoping I can improve if not fix her gut and hopefully cure these immune allergies. Thanks for posting with such honesty and candor! Love it!

  4. Keep us posted on how it goes Jennifer! I hope it helps your daughter!

  5. I just want to say thank you for this post. I was a tandem nurser, and also a victim of abuse. I hated tandem nursing. I stuck it out for 8 months, hoping it would get better. It didn't. I weaned my older child. Then I felt guilty. I knew the benefits of nursling a toddler, but for me, my sanity outweighed the benefits. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone.
    Jill Meyer

  6. I know that touched out feeling well! I've been tandem nursing for 4 months and some days I really want to drop it. I struggle with some pretty nasty anxiety and depression and feel panicky when I nurse them at the same time so it's usually one at a time. But even that way it can just get to be too much touching! Thanks for your honest post and way to go!!

  7. This is such a great post. I love your honesty. I tandem nursed and ended up weaning my 2 year old because it made me irritable and I didn't like the feeling of my boobs being pulled in two directions, toddler teeth, and a toddler nursing longer than my newborn. It was a hard thing to do, and I still feel guilty for weaning, but when I think back to the irritation I felt, I know it was the right decision.

  8. I love you so much for being honest! I absolutely LOVE the idea of tandem nursing, but I do wonder if it would drive me to the brink. I'm also an abuse survivor, and I know the touched out feeling you mean. "IF EVERYONE DOESN'T STOP TOUCHING ME I WILL RUN OUT OF THIS ROOM SCREAMING!" is something I've heard in my head more than once.

    My hats are off to those who do tandem nurse, especially with two close in age. I think it is a beautiful way to build sibling relationships and ease the transition of a new baby :)

    Oh, and if pumping went better for me, I would totally give my older kids some breast milk! Unfortunately, even though my 9-month old is in 18-month clothes, I can't get more than an 1oz after 30+ minutes of pumping.


  9. Wow, I actually learned a lot from this post! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Tandem nursing will never be int he cards for me simply because Judah weaned himself just after a year. I can totally appreciate the dedication it takes to do that though. What a great gift!

  11. I really needed this post! Thank you so much. I cuurently nusre my 19 month old and have been struggling with my own ideas of weaning and the pressure from others to wean. I am on the fence and of course everyone around me definitly things I should wean. My daughter however, well lets just say I really don't think she is ready. To be honest, the only reasons I am considering it is because she is still not sleeping through the night which ends up with me sleeping on her floor for a few hours each night or her in our bed and me scolding her for not sleeping. The other reason is because I am 12 weeks pregnant and really ancious about the idea of tandem nursing mostly because of the "over touched" feeling that I get sometimes just with my dd kicking her feet, touching my face, scrathcing or pinching while nursing, etc. My over touched feelings lead to an extreme lack of desire for intimacy with my husband because I JUST DON"T WANT TO BE TOUCHED OR NEEDED at the end of the day. He verbalized his concern about this to me during a conversation about the possibilty of tandem nursing. Thankfully he is very supportive of whatver I decide to do but he isn't really willing ot take a back seat and I don't blame him one bit. Then there is the whole issue of torchering myself and my daughter by weaning now only for her to demand the breast when the baby comes. Really not sure what to do! Thanks again for the post and everything you mamas do.