Making the jump from one kid to two kids (or one to three like I did) can be daunting. You may ask yourself: how am I going to do this? This question may especially arise if you’re planning to breastfeed. Let’s face it. Breastfeeding requires us to slow down a bit (most of the time, for the better). However, that can be worrisome if you have an older child that needs you and your attention.
I want to empower you so that you feel more than capable of breastfeeding and tending to your older child, which is why I’m sharing tips on how to help both you and your older child navigate this new stage of motherhood you’re about to enter.
Prepare Your Older Child
Let’s begin with how to prepare your older child. Here are a few ideas that will set the stage:
-Talk through what your older child can expect when the new baby arrives. Explain how often babies eat, how much they sleep, what they require, etc.
-Help your child connect to what he or she will see by telling stories from their infancy.
Explain how your child can help you when the new baby arrives. Kids love to feel helpful.
-If possible, bring your child around other families who have young babies so they can see what is coming. Allowing your child to see young babies and their needs also helps you to draw on that experience when talking about what is coming. For instance, a conversation starter could look like this: “Remember when we saw the baby at the park? Remember how our friend’s baby needed his mommy’s milk?”
You need to be sure that you’re helping yourself as much as possible. Take care of yourself, mama. Let’s discuss what you can do for yourself:
-Using a sling can be a huge help when breastfeeding and simultaneously tending to an older child. A sling will make at least one of your hands accessible. Plus, a sling is convenient even when not breastfeeding. It keeps your new baby secure with you and free from the sometimes excessive love of your older child.
-Another way to free up your hands is to use a breastfeeding pillow. The pillow helps bring baby to the breast without requiring your arms. I recommend this pillow or this pillow. Being able to free up your arms when breastfeeding takes time and practice. Be sure to follow my recommendations for positioning.
For Your Older Child
You can set your older child up for success, too. These are some ideas that can assist with that:
-Create an activity basket for your toddler to use only while you are feeding baby. Just using it when you’re breastfeeding keeps it exciting. The dollar store is a great place to get inexpensive toys, games, coloring books, etc., to create this basket.
-Monkey see monkey do! If your older child needs to be involved with you, encourage them to pretend to nurse their baby doll or stuffed animal.
-Some other ideas include setting up an activity for your child before you sit down to nurse; coloring, blocks, cars, or even a show can all be hugely helpful. You can supervise in the same room, but hopefully, this provides a distraction that will last just long enough for you to be able to attend to your baby.
As a twin mama, I’ll always give twin tips whenever possible.
When breastfeeding twins, you may feel overwhelmed by the time it takes to breastfeed two babies then the time that your toddler wants to spend with you. Take it easy. Do what you can and ask for help.
Finally, if you feel overwhelmed, over touched, quick to anger, and overall don’t feel like yourself, seek help from your doctor—you may have postpartum depression. I did, and getting treatment helped me to feel like myself again and enjoy the time with my three littles.
Again, I hope you feel empowered. Remember, mothers all over the world for thousands of years have breastfed and tended to multiple children. You can do it, mama! You’ll find your rhythm. I promise.