21 Oct

Tandem breastfeeding, as a young mum – it can be done!

Newly qualified BfN Helper Naomi Forbes writes about her experiences as a young mum, in particular her decision to breastfeed both of her children in tandem.

Breastfeeding is a big part of my everyday life. I currently tandem feed my one year old and my two and a half year old. Tandem feeding can be challenging for many reasons but it’s something I wanted to do. When I had my first child at the age of 19 and my second at 20, I noticed a lot of people around me did not expect me to breastfeed. I think there is a stigma around “young” mothers, people assume a lot of things, such as “they won’t be breastfeeding”, “they’ll leave their baby with others all the time”, “they’ll be lazy” etc. I found this difficult and hurtful at first as I did plan my pregnancy at a young age and even if I hadn’t it would not have been anyone else’s business.

It can be lonely tandem feeding especially if you don’t know many others in the same position as you, and I’m writing this to make people aware that it is perfectly normal. I assumed most people already knew that there’s nothing “strange” about it, however I spoke to many people during my pregnancy who had no idea that it was even possible to feed my new baby and continue to feed my older child. It’s often hard to do the things you want to do when the people around you are not as supportive as you had hoped they would be, I don’t think people mean to be hurtful I think it’s often down to a lack of education about the subject.

I feel extremely passionate about empowering women and helping them to achieve their breastfeeding/parenting goals just like I have achieved mine. I have recently started to train to become a breastfeeding helper with the Breastfeeding Network, I often focus on the negative responses I have had and not the positive because I want to help educate more people and it’s important to focus on the bad so I know what I have to try and change, but I have had so much support and I feel this is one way of giving something back.

I didn’t really give it much thought before I gave birth to my first child, I had a few conversations about it when I was pregnant and a lot of people told me “you might not be able to breastfeed” and “most women can’t breastfeed”. I just knew I wanted to but I had it in my head that so many women can’t breastfeed and I thought there was a high chance that I wouldn’t be able to. I just decided I was going to try it and see how it went. I’ve found out now that only a tiny percentage of mothers truly can’t breastfeed and that a lot of people say that rather than just admit that they made the choice not to, and of course that’s fine but I don’t think they should be trying to put other mothers off by giving false information, especially as first time pregnant women do tend to look up to people who are already mothers as they believe they will know better than them.

For more information about tandem feeding, check out this guest blog post that Emma Pickett (chair of the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers) wrote for us: https://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/guest-post-breastfeeding-through-pregnancy-and-beyond/

If you need support with any aspect of breastfeeding, call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 1000212 (9.30am – 9.30pm, 365 days per year) or send a private message to our team on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBreastfeedingNetworkUK/