"Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond" by Hilary Flower

To be honest, I only read the first few chapters of this book. Like maybe the first two chapters. I wish I had read it months ago. I will probably buy it and have it in my home library, and I will probably reread those chapters (and more) the next time I am pregnant. And the next, etc.

One thing: I know that breastfeeding is not a sexual act and that breasts are way oversexualized in our country etc. etc. But I would not flip through the pages of the book if I were a guy because there are some pictures I would be way uncomfortable seeing. It was less uncomfortable to me since I am (was?) a nursing mom, but I don't like pictures of other peoples' breasts, personally, with or without babies attached. I understand all the arguments about pro-show of breastfeeding breasts. It's just something I personally don't do, and don't want to see. That said, I think it's more than okay for a mom to take a baby and nurse him/her under a blanket or in a discreet sling ANYWHERE. Which I have done.

Anyway, by the time this inter-library loan book finally came, Jane was nursing for about 5 minutes/day. Of her own choice. She was only 10 months old. I was worried because I read somewhere else that kids under a year rarely self-wean. So I felt guilty about the fact she was nursing so little. Besides, nursing is nice, and I enjoy it. I didn't at first, but Jane and I got into a routine and it was comforting. I didn't want to stop. All the recommendations from the National Pediatric type associations say "12 months! 12 months!" It was almost as if I would have been a failure if I hadn't kept nursing her, even though she was no longer interested. My mom nursed me until I was a year old. I felt guilty and confused about what to do. Until I read this book.

This book explained the hormonal changes going on in my body during pregnancy and how they effect my milk. Apparently when you are pregnant, milk changes to be saltier and less fatty. Some people call it "weaning milk". This was probably why Jane stopped nursing for nutrition; she was probably only holding on to that last nursing because it comforted her.

But she's eating a TON of table food, and drinks some bottles of half-milk, half-formula. Actually, now it's more like 2/3 milk, 1/3 formula because the formula is so freaking expensive and she gets her iron from other places. I am positive that the reason she made the switch from my milk to the formula/cow's milk bottles is because suddenly my milk didn't taste as good to her, not because the bottle was more abundant or easy to drink or whatever. She was good at getting satisfied from nursing before, and I nursed her much more "on-demand" than I give her bottles; it's just that during pregnancy, the hormones in my body change the consistency of my milk. Just knowing this makes me feel okay about weaning. Jane choosing to wean is different than me imposing bottles on her, mainly because the choice came from her, not me. Because, well, there's not a lot I can do about the fact that I am pregnant and my milk isn't yummy to her anymore. Whereas, if I had been like, "I'm sick of nursing! Screw this, take a bottle," that would have been all my choice.

I don't want to offend other people who make that choice. I know lots of people who have. Or they go back to work and can't nurse, or for whatever other reason they wean earlier than a year. I can't judge other people, for many reasons, including because I have no idea what their true motivation for weaning is. For me, the only reason I had in my mind why I could wean Jane before a year was a "because-I-feel-like-it" type reason. She didn't bite, I didn't have other obligations like work, and she was a great nurser. If I had been the one to initiate weaning, it would have been "because-I-feel-like-it." I didn't want that to be my motivation for weaning her because I feel like that's selfish. And the truth is, I didn't "feel-like-it" at all! So it's a moot point anyway.

While I do think breastfeeding is great, I am not about to go around telling other women what is best for their babies. I have enough to worry about with my own, thanks very much!

Also, clearly, I am not completely pro-National Pediatric type organizations' breastfeeding doctrine because my own baby's nursing habits did not fall into their category of recommendations (because of my prego milk!). I do not think women are bad moms if they don't nurse the baby for a year. What I mean by explaining my thought process about weaning is to tell you how much pressure I felt to nurse my baby for a year, so I could do the doctor-imposed "what's best for her."

You can imagine my relief when intelligent, scientific data in this book explained to me that changes in my milk while pregnant could and often do result in the baby weaning themselves. Basically the main message of the book is, "Listen to your baby, listen to your own body, and do what you think is "what's best for both of you", and remember that this is something that nobody else, not even this book, can define." What a positive, uplifting message! I wish more parenting books were like that.

Technically, the changed milk is called colostrum. It's test-drive milk for the new baby. Don't worry, as soon as the placenta is delivered, that will trigger a hormonal reaction for more colostrum and the "yellow gold" stuff that newborns need. Jane can't steal the next baby's milk. And if I were to tandem nurse them, there would be enough milk for both and then some. I know that some women have problems with supply, but most don't, including me most likely. Also, the way things are, I don't think tandem nursing is in the immediate future anyway. Jane is pretty happy with table food.

(Did you know that newborn babies 0-3 months drink like a quart of milk per day?!? That's so much. Interesting.)

Judging by the fact that she's got lots of poopy diapers and is generally happy, I think she's doing okay. I just have to make sure she gets enough iron, but that's something I need to worry about for myself as well, being pregnant. So I end up cooking iron-rich foods that end up on the table (and the surrounding floor) of Jane's high chair. The reason she's so skinny has nothing to do with her not eating enough and everything to do with my husband's family's genes (sure didn't come from my Czech side!).

The main thing this book did was let me wean Jane completely without feeling guilty. I mean, she had already mostly weaned herself. But I kept stubbornly nursing her a little bit each day, even though she wasn't that interested. I actually kept on doing it, until one day she just literally turned away. And then it was like, "Oh, okay, you're done nursing now." The book reminded me that everybody is different, and that since nursing is so intensely personal, only my baby and I can decide what is the best way or when to wean.

So she is totally weaned now. I haven't nursed her for about 2 1/2 weeks. And that's okay.

It's hard to put in words how much pressure there is, external and internal, to nurse your baby. This book was great because it helped me to realize that it's okay to wean.

Actually, it is the ONLY resource out there that I have been able to read about weaning. NONE of the other breastfeeding books I read had anything about weaning. Maybe this is because many American women barely breastfeed at all and don't need much help getting convinced to stop, so organizations like La Leche League campaign aggressively for pro-breastfeeding messages? This was the only book that recognized weaning as a natural part of nursing, and explained the chemistry and science behind it, as well as validating the emotional aspect of it. So while the book's style was wayyyyy too "pc" for my taste (they never say "husband" - they say "partner", and every time I read about my "partner" I flinched, especially imagining how Danny would react to that word!), the actual content was highly educational, interesting, and useful. The same friend who recommended "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" recommended this one to me, both of which are fantastically informative reads. I highly recommend you read it as soon as you find out you are pregnant, if you are also nursing.


  1. When Briggy was around 10 months I was a few months along with Oliver and his feedings wayyyyy decreased. He held on until 13 months, and then just one day was like "nope!" and was able to drink milk...so it worked out well. This time is different since Im not pregnant--and Im noticing at 10 1/2 months that Oliver is starting to eat less. I nurse him 7am, sometimes 2pm--but not today--7pm, and sometimes if he wakes up middle of the night....but the feedings are also very shorter. I plan on nursing as long as he wants to, but the way hes weaning himself naturally, im thinking he'll probably be done right around the same time Briggy was. Im curious to see how it plays out since Im not pregnant this time around. Originally I wanted to nurse both boys until 18 months, but I'm not sure if he'll hang on that long :)
    I didn't realize you could mix milk with formula. I used formula for Briggy when he started to eat less, but he never would take a bottle so I always just mixed it with cereal.
    Hope you're feeling good! Baby #2 will be here before you know it!!

  2. So the official word from my pediatrician is "12 months for milk" but Danny says my sister in law started mixing at around 10 months...he, well we're bad, we started mixing around 9 1/2 months. It was about 3/4 formula 1/4 whole milk at first, and then we've slowly been decreasing it. I think it makes sense because just putting the baby on milk all of a sudden may come as a huge shock. But this meant that at one point she was nursing, drinking formula, and drinking milk. Whew!

    I think it probably has a lot to do with them eating solid foods, too. Jane started eating mush around 4 months, and by 6 months she ate little bits of whatever it was we're eating. I'm not scared that she's not getting enough nutrition because we eat healthy foods with lots of iron. That's the one thing my pediatrician said you can't get from cows milk.

    My pediatrician also said that some babies do fine with just giving them milk all of a sudden. She thinks it's more about taste and preference than a nutritional need. I know that when I was younger, I was allergic to milk. I dunno, I think there are new studies out that show the earlier you get introduced to potential allergens in small amounts, the less likely you will develop an allergy to them, so I was comfortable giving Jane cow's milk early. But seriously, probably the main reason is because she eats like a pig and can't possibly be starving, and it's way, way, way cheaper for her to drink cow's milk.

    In the middle of the night when I get my ritual second dinner (it's not just a ritual, it's to stave off the throbbing hunger pains from this pregnancy so I don't get nauseous and throw up) of a bowl of cereal, sometimes I inadvertently pour whole milk instead of our 2%. Now, we drink 2% because it's tasty, but compared to whole milk it's like...water. Haha. Whole milk is so delicious. I hope I don't gain a thousand pounds.


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