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Book Review
Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding during Pregnancy and Beyond

by Hilary Flower
La Leche Leaue International, 2003
Softcover, 325 pages
No. 1379-12, $14.95

Reviewed by Erica Jorgensen
Seattle WA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 6, November-December 2003, pp. 222

If breastfeeding a toddler is still a cultural curiosity, then tandem nursing is truly unusual. As author Hilary Flower has found, it's mostly a hidden phenomenon: plenty of mothers do it, but primarily at La Leche League meetings and in the privacy of their own homes. Perhaps ADVENTURES IN TANDEM NURSING - the first major book on the topic - can help bring this parenting practice out of the closet. The book marvelously fills a void both for longtime tandem-nursing women looking for a little moral support, and for those expectant mothers wondering if they'll be able to pull it off, or even successfully nurse while pregnant.

As the "Supermom" drawing on the cover hints, there's plenty of humor to be found between the covers. "Milk of amnesia" is Flower's witty way to describe the brain fog that nursing-and especially tandem nursing-can induce. Cartoon-like drawings throughout the book amusingly illustrate common experiences of a tandem-nursing mother, such as "suddenly huge-looking toddler" syndrome (when the newborn makes the nursing toddler suddenly seem gigantic in comparison).

Flower covers just about any tandem-nursing question under the sun, while managing to keep the information brief, organized, and clear-perfect for referencing in a hurry, or when two (or more) children are clamoring for attention. She includes information on breastfeeding while pregnant; rest, nutrition, and self-care; discomforts during breastfeeding; changes to expect in milk quality and quantity; positioning options, including some for pregnant mothers; fending off critics; and cutting back nursings or weaning with empathy.

Flower writes that she herself felt crushed, confused, and a little relieved to see her older daughter wean during her second pregnancy, only to be thrilled when she started back up again when she started making colostrum. Here's her description of the scene right after the birth of her son:

My new son was in that magical first hour of life. He locked eyes with his big sister as she nursed at the other breast, and she reached out her little hand to his miniature hand. I felt like Mother Earth as my love flowed into both children and their love completed the circle.

The most fascinating material in ADVENTURES IN TANDEM NURSING comes from interviews with dozens of tandem-nursing mothers. Their stories appear throughout the book, with the last section featuring the tales of 10 mothers who had a variety of experiences: one nursed three children at once; another tandem nursed after adopting a baby; another grieved the loss of a self-weaned older nursling; and another, pregnant, was horrified by her profound physical irritation with her nursing toddler but was still reluctant to wean her. One of these mothers really sums up the experience: "Tandem nursing is an exercise in love, patience, and adaptability."

In spite of the challenges involved, Flower stresses that it's well worth the effort in order to smooth the older child's transition to being an older sibling. In time, a child will learn that sharing her mother does not mean losing her.

Mothers need energy, patience, and emotional fortitude to nurse siblings, and the right kind of information and support can make a big difference. Full of mother-to-mother support and the latest research, this book wonderfully complements the monthly support of LLL meetings for any mother interested in the issues of nursing during a pregnancy or tandem nursing.

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