We just had our third child in September. Unlike when we had our second, I didn’t have as many worries this time around about how I would care for, feed, entertain and love all the kids at the same time. I had practice and experience about how this was going to work. However, for some parents, having a second baby can be just as daunting and scary as having a first, especially for some breastfeeding mamas – how in the world can I entertain my oldest when my newborn will be attached to my breast?
For us, when we first came home, my husband was in charge of entertaining the boys. He would make sure baby and I were cozy, then he would take the kids on some type of city excursion or a pretend adventure inside our home. This allowed me to get the hang of the breastfeeding thing again, get some rest and a shower so when I was left alone with all three kids I had enough energy to care for all of us. When my husband and the boys were around while I was breastfeeding, we let the boys tickle baby’s feet, see how she latched, helped me burp her, explained to them how she was eating. We wanted them to be comfortable with breastfeeding and experience how nurturing and wonderful it is (our second oldest loves to “feed” his babydoll by putting her up to his chest and our oldest already understands why daddies can’t breastfeed babies).
When my husband had to return to work, we secured help for a few weeks. We commissioned grandma to come over a couple of days a week for a few hours to entertain the boys. We also hired a postpartum doula to come specifically for sibling care, although, when we had our second child, the postpartum doula was for me – to reteach me basic breastfeeding skills, make sure I was getting a shower, food, etc. and watching after our oldest so I could nap. I didn’t have help every hour of the day, but the help I did have made the transition into mama of three a lot easier. I know for many, help can be hard to find, or too expensive – but, there are options out there. For those truly in need, postpartum doulas who need certification sometimes offer volunteer hours or a reduced rate. Teens can be hired on as mother’s helpers. Retired neighbors might love to play with some young folks for an hour or two.
When I felt ready to tackle motherhood of multiple children on my own, I made individual breastfeeding kits for both boys. These kits contained new toys and activities for the kids to do ONLY while I was breastfeeding. I made sure the toys/activities were things they could do without my help. For instance, felt boards, Crayola Washable Markers Coloring Kits, string beads, peg boards, puzzles etc. The boys were excited to get these kits out when they saw me preparing to nurse Libby. I also reserved a special show for them to watch if they didn’t want to play with the kits, or to watch when I knew she needed some quiet time.
A couple of months have passed and the boys don’t use the kits too much anymore; they will either sit beside me for a few minutes while Libby is nursing, sometimes we read a book together while she is eating, or they will run off and do their own thing. Occasionally, I will nurse her in the baby carrier. And, we are also getting out more, so I tend to nurse in public while they are having fun playing.
Breastfeeding a baby while also caring for a toddler and a preschooler isn’t always the easiest, but we are getting the hang of it together.
Here are some helpful websites:
To learn how to nurse baby in a carrier – check this out: http://bwichicagoland.wordpress.com/
Jennifer Adams is a mom of 3 who regularly finds time to have fun – with or without kids! She is a CAPPA Certified Postpartum Doula, Certified Lactation Specialist, and serves on the Board of Breastfeed, Chicago!