One morning, while pregnant with my second child, I was having a discussion with my friend Marla. Marla’s second son was 6 months old at the time so she was the voice of wisdom and experience in my opinion. She patiently listened as I fretted and worried aloud about how to juggle nursing and caring for a new baby while still managing a toddler, home, and husband.
After all, I could barely find time to do the hair and makeup thing, get out the door with all my stuff, keep up the house, etc. with one kid, right? And how on earth could I sit and breastfeed a newborn with a toddler careening around? And how would I give my first child enough attention during those early weeks of relentless breastfeeding?
When I finally came up for air, my wise friend gave me some advice that changed everything: “You really aren’t any busier when you have more than one child”, she calmly said.
And so she elaborated, as follows: Think about it. You are already 100% busy from sun up to sun down every day. You can’t be busier than 100% busy, even with more children. 100% means full to capacity. So, you will still be that busy after the next baby comes, just with different things.
AHA! Game changer!
And so, with that advice to start, here are some of the best tips I’ve collected or discovered over the years when it comes to breastfeeding and managing a growing family:
#1: Remember, you can’t be any busier than 100% busy.
#2: Remember that you may be a veteran breast feeder, but your baby is a rookie
. So if you have questions or issues don’t beat yourself up or hesitate to ask for help from a lactation consultant or other resource.
#3: When you sit down to nurse the baby, it may work to invite the other child (or children) up to read a storybook
. Or, that may just work in other households but not yours. You can also use reverse psychology and tell the other kids to sit by you while you nurse (so that they will refuse and request to do something else like play down on the floor). Whatever works.
#4: Corral and contain with baby gates;
one friend suggested a swivel rocker recliner was her best friend because she could breastfeed and still have a 360 degree view of the room and what the other children were up to.
#5: Have something on hand that can only be played with when the new baby is breastfeeding.
I had a colorful old purse that could be filled with play items and little finger foods; it would be named after each new baby (for example, the “Patrick bag”). My toddlers could go and retrieve it during nursing times and discover the items inside. Every day I would add or change at least one item or treat.
#6: Get comfortable nursing outside of your home if you have to go to soccer games or other kid functions.
Remember that you can feed discretely, and you may even experience an opportunity to teach someone that breastfeeding really is just feeding a baby.
#7: Your other children will probably be curious, or may even want to taste the breast milk
(I always placed some in a spoon if they asked, and let them taste it.) Have a plan, talk to your kids before baby arrives.
#8: Your toddler may revert to more babyish behavior.
This is normal and will pass. Eventually. I promise.
#9: You will surprise yourself by actually becoming quicker and more organized out of necessity.
#10: Stop, smell, feel , and listen to the moments, because what you’ve heard is true:
they grow up fast and you will wish these days back.
- Mary Edwards RN, OTR, IBCLC, MOT (Mother of three)