Being a first time mom, breastfeeding was everything from overwhelming, exhausting, and confusing, to calming and rewarding. However, I loved most moments of the experience of nursing my firstborn, particularly because it was just he and I for 3 solid months.
I could be up all night breastfeeding and then just lounge around the house with him watching bad reality TV the next day without a care in the world. We had moments of solidarity and peace and I just loved it. I’d read a book or play Words with Friends while rocking and feeding him. Then I’d continue to do so well after he stopped eating and was sound asleep in my arms.
It was blissfully tranquil and those memories are what encouraged me to continue breastfeeding during the tough times. It also further convinced me to try the whole process all over again with each of our subsequent babies.
I thought breastfeeding my second baby was going to be just like my first, but I soon found out how wrong I was. Breastfeeding baby number two is a whole different experience than when it’s just a mother and her first born alone. This time, I was trying to breastfeed or pump milk while also chasing a very active toddler.
My oldest was 2.5 when my daughter was born and always kept me on my toes. He always needed my attention, and why wouldn’t he? He had two and a half years with just his parents before this new little attention-stealer came along!
Life was turned upside down and I learned to juggle, quite literally, with a baby attached to my chest in one arm and a toddler snuggled into my other. I grasped bathing a toddler while nursing closeby on the top of the toilet. It brought multitasking to a whole new level.
Then onto the third child – where multitasking wasn’t just a skill, it was a requirement of life! This time, we were in a new house where I had just opened up my home daycare a few months prior and found out we were pregnant with baby #3.
My oldest was headed to PreK that fall and I was home with my 2.5y old daughter and 4 daycare children. This made a total of 6 kids over the summer and then -SEVEN- kids the following summer when I had a newborn! Miraculously, I was able to breastfeed our third baby until around a year old, like I had my other babies. But, it didn’t come without its’ challenges!
Tips for Breastfeeding as a Busy Mom
Now, I give you my collected compilation of simple tips for successful breastfeeding as a busy mom, during times of total chaos (or with multiple children present… so same thing really!)
Be Patient & Calm
There may be times of utter chaos. Your older child may get jealous of the baby doing something so intimate with his mommy, and act out or display sadness. This is totally normal! So getting yourself stressed out and upset will only make it harder on you, your family, and your breastfeeding journey.
Try to be as patient as you can with them and even talk about their feelings. Maintaining a calm attitude when you’re speaking with your older child is important so they don’t feel that they’re being neglected. You’re already taking time away from them, so it’s best to manage your patience as much as possible.
Be prepared for what specific behaviors the toddler/child may exhibit when feeling jealous, overwhelmed, or confused. If you know there are certain times of day or things you do with your baby that set them off, try to avoid it. If there’s something you know that works well to calm them down or get them to be less upset when you’re feeding, do that before you start. Prepare yourself for those actions that your older child may take, so you know how to react to it.
You’re likely going to need to find ways you didn’t think existed for getting one free hand unspoken for! I personally would recommend a soft baby wrap or sling for nursing while standing or moving about. At the very least, use a Boppy or My Breast Friend to rest baby on to feed while entertaining another child.
Before we moved to the baby carrier stage, we used a super soft Boba Wrap that felt like a large, comfortable sheet for me! Most large wraps like this one encompass most of your body, but allow the baby to be nestled into your chest with open access to your breast when necessary.
My youngest was an infant during the summer months, so if I was planning on wearing the wrap during the warmer days I’d often just wear a nursing tank top or bra underneath. It kept me cooler and allowed even easier access to my breast when the baby got hungry. It also went around my waist so my daycare parents weren’t seeing anything they shouldn’t!
This wrap was so amazing. It allowed me BOTH hands to focus on my other children, while also keeping my newborn happy and right next to me where he always demanded to be. Once he got a little bigger, it made more sense to use a carrier. I used the Lillebaby carrierand absolutely LOVED it. It was super lightweight, had mesh lining for lots of airflow and could incorporate 6 different carrying positions, including at least 2 that allowed baby to breastfeed while still IN the carrier!
The one major thing I did when I had all our daycare friends plus my kids present was to plan out the next 30 minutes. If I sat down to feed my baby right NOW, who would need what, and how soon? This allowed me to change diapers, get snacks, pacifiers or anything else necessary before I sat down to nurse. Then I’d often put on a popular video – a 20 minute episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse wasn’t going to hurt anyone while I nursed my baby in quiet.
Planning out who needed what before sitting down reduced a lot of stress. It allowed me to better focus on my baby, knowing the other children were taken care of and happy.
You need to know what are the most important things you need to accomplish throughout your day and don’t worry about the other little things. It’s hard enough raising children and keeping a home so worrying about doing the dishes and scrubbing the floors may have to wait.
Obviously, breastfeeding your little one will take priority over many of those mundane daily tasks. Then comes spending time with your older children. Work these 2 activities into your day first and if you’re successful at that, worry about the small things last.
Now take a big breath! No, really! I was totally overwhelmed about breastfeeding a newborn with my toddler son present. I was worried he’d wake up from nap while I was breastfeeding and feel neglected because I didn’t run to his immediate call (yeah, I recognize I may have over thought some things). Then I was nervous my enrolled daycare parents would think I was putting my newborn before their child’s needs and pull their child from my care!
I became desperate to prove just what I COULD do while breastfeeding a newborn. One day, I even cooked 6 kids grilled cheese sandwiches over the stove while wearing the wrap and breastfeeding simultaneously! I still think I deserve an award of some sort for that.
Times are going to get chaotic. Your toddler will likely have some jealous feelings at first and you may just think that switching to formula would be a lot easier. Trust me, I had all those feelings! But relax, take it as slow as you can and life will go on! Remember why you chose this for you and your baby <3
About the Author:
Ashley Lavoie is a mother of three and stay at home mom, raising 2 boys and a girl in NH. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Psychology and loves to write, read and take walks. Her youngest son, just shy of 2 years old, is a Neonatal Diabetic and wears an insulin pump to manage his blood sugar. Ashley is blogging to raise awareness to his rare type of Diabetes and would love to one day see a cure for Type One Diabetes and all its subtypes!