This Is What Tandem Breastfeeding Is Really Like
Dil Wickremasinghe and her wife Anne Marie are currently tandem breastfeeding their son Phoenix (nearly three-years old), and daughter Xavier (five months). She fills us in on their breastfeeding journey to date.
Firstly, I feel I need to say that I wasn’t born in a commune and my parents weren’t hippies. I wish they had been as they would have been much more fun to be around growing up.
I was not breastfed and I have never been around breastfeeding mums. The same goes for my wife. As card carrying lesbians, we were interested in breasts in the same way the whole world sees breasts and that is only for the purpose of sex.
The Journey To Breastfeeding
Looking back now, it never occurred to me that the true biological importance of women’s breasts is to feed human babies. I was so unaware of the wonders of breastfeeding that I remember even thinking that there was no difference between breastmilk and the myriad of breastmilk substitutes available on the market. I am sure this is a common misconception based on the simple fact that we are constantly bombarded by images of formula everywhere we turn.
If you had told me three years ago that I would still be breastfeeding our now nearly three-year-old son and tandem feeding our five-month-old daughter I would probably pass away with the shock, but here we are.
READ NEXT: 8 Steps to Being an Amazing Breastfeeding Partner
How Did It All Begin?
It all started when I was 18 weeks pregnant, we opted for a home birth with Private Midwives. Despite being 41, overweight and having Gestational Diabetes I went on to have a textbook home birth.
Our fabulous home birth midwife Liz Halliday mentioned tandem breastfeeding during one of our lively chats during one of her many home visits. I’d never heard of such a thing before in my life and for some reason I had the hilarious image of us frantically peddling a tandem bike whilst breastfeeding at the same time. How bizarre!
Tandem Feeding – Supply And Demand
Turns out women have been tandem breastfeeding for centuries as extended breastfeeding was the norm and mothers would often breastfeed their toddler and infant at the same time. When you think of it, breasts are marvellous as they can adjust their production to meet the demands placed upon them in a simple supply and demand process.
If they are asked to produce enough milk for two, they usually can. Also, most toddlers breastfeed considerably less frequently than an infant, and get most of their nutrition from other foods.
Anne Marie and I decided very early on when we met that we would “throw out the rule book,” and we would trust our instincts and go with what we felt was right for both of us and not just follow the cultural norm.
Latching For Comfort
Sure, enough when Phoenix was born he actually latched on to Anne Marie’s breast first as I was in the pool for a while trying to deliver the placenta. It seemed so natural, practical and made complete sense as after all there are four breasts so why not use them.
Anne Marie did not start lactating, but Phoenix was very happy to latch on to her occasionally for comfort but also to gleefully hear Anne Marie’s simultaneous squeals of joy and discomfort. We made sure of course to keep the connection between baby and my breasts strong always as it was our intention to breastfeed him exclusively for the first six months of his life.
Our breastfeeding journey was tough at the start, as Phoenix was severely tongue tied which interfered with his ability to feed. It took nearly two weeks and two procedures for breastfeeding to be established and for him to start thriving. Once the issue was resolved, he became a right old boobie monster!
Fast forward two and half years later and Anne Marie gave birth to our daughter Xavier just over five months ago. The tables have turned, and I am able to return the favour. While Anne Marie was busy delivering her placenta, Xavier latched on to me. It felt natural and so practical!
READ NEXT: 2 Things You Need To Understand About Breastfeeding
We are both lactating mums – the lovely thing is that now both children can feed from both of us and this has greatly helped bring us all closer as a family unit. We look forward to naptime and bedtime when we all get to curl up on our big king size bed and just shut out the world and just connect with our children… what more could we possibly want?
Dil Wickremasinghe - social justice and mental health podcaster of “Sparking Change with Dil” on the HeadStuff Podcast Network and Co-Founder of Insight Matters – Inspiring change in self and society through personal development, psychotherapy and counselling.