I’ve had four children, each of whom I’ve breastfed well into toddlerhood. Given that my first two were 23 months apart and my second and third were only 19 months apart, I tandem nursed twice.
While the research is still very new and ongoing, what I learned between my two tandem nursing experiences really made things much easier the second time. That’s why I want to share possible tips on easing NA.
Tandem nursing and my first experience with nursing aversion and agitation
When I fell pregnant with my second, I was still breastfeeding my first. I read up learned that yes, it was safe to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy.
Only problem: I was sick and exhausted. I felt like I’d been ran over by a truck. Even so, I continued nursing. Honestly, it was an easy way to keep my toddler still when I felt too awful to chase her around.
As time went on, the nausea lessened, but I got to where I really disliked my daughter nursing. It just...bothered me. When my younger daughter was born, I continued breastfeeding my toddler while also nursing my infant.
There were some beautiful moments with tandem nursing my two girls. It was really nice to ease my oldest into having a sister by letting them share the “na-nas.” And on occasion, I could get them both to sleep at the same time with my boobs!
Unfortunately, my aversion continued and even got worse. I had no problem nursing my infant, but when my toddler wanted to breastfeed, I would get so angry with her. I would feel like I just wanted to tear my skin off to get the sensation to stop.
On top of this terrible experience, I felt a lot of guilt and shame about my feelings. After all, what kind of mother hates it when her child touches her?
For seven more months, I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists, and dug my nails into my palms whenever my toddler breastfed. I would have preferred pain to the agitation I experienced during this time.
At some point, I did some digging on the internet and finally learned what was happening to me. I discovered that nursing aversion is a real thing. I wasn’t a bad mom, and I wasn’t alone.
With that said, I chose to wean my daughter at two and a half. It was a heartbreaking choice, but it was best for both of us.
Tandem nursing a second time with less aversion
Only a few months later, I became pregnant again. Armed with the knowledge of what nursing aversion was, I approached breastfeeding my second child (now a toddler herself) differently.
The first time around, I tried to ignore my feelings of aversion. I would count to 100 while my oldest nursed in our glider, angry that she wouldn’t go to sleep.
But during this third pregnancy, I took prenatal yoga and learned more about mindfulness. I practiced focusing on my breath to help me with an unmedicated childbirth.
I found that I had significantly less nursing aversion, and even when it popped up, I could cope with it easier. In fact, I tandem nursed after my pregnancy for over a year, and my second daughter was three before she weaned.
How I lessened my nursing aversion
As I mentioned above, mindfulness played a huge role in helping me through aversion. The first time, I tried to mentally escape what was happening to me, just making my agitation worse.
But with my second daughter, I used the mindfulness I learned in yoga and applied it to life with my child. If I was trying to get her to sleep at night, I would focus on feeling my feet on the floor and my body resting in my chair, helping me feel grounded. I noticed the feeling of my little girl’s head cradled in my arm and her bottom resting in the crook of my elbow. I explored my breath.
I also found some other helpful advice for nursing aversion. Getting enough sleep is huge. Sleep deprivation really makes nursing aversion worse, so go to bed early if you’re not getting enough sleep (as often happens with moms of littles).
I started taking a chelated magnesium supplement (chelated magnesium helps the nervous system, and there’s some limited evidence that it specifically helps with aversion).
And finally, I made a better effort to stay hydrated. Many moms report lessened aversion when they drink plenty of water.
Conclusions on lessening nursing aversion
If you’re suffering from nursing aversion, but still want to breastfeed your child, definitely try these techniques before you quit. While I can’t guarantee that your aversion will go away (or even just decrease), there’s a good chance it will help.
With that said, if you choose to wean, that’s okay too. You need to do what’s best for both you and your child.