Tandem Breast Feeding

Tandem Breast Feeding

Tandem breast feeding is when you nurse two (or more) siblings of different ages.

Many mothers learn about tandem nursing when they become pregnant while still breastfeeding their toddlers.

While it is very exciting that the new baby is coming to the world there might be some worries too.

Read this article to clear all the clouds about breastfeeding both of your children. 

In this article:

Advantages of Tandem Breast Feeding

Benefits for CHILDREN

  • The biggest advantage of tandem nursing is close relationship between siblings that builds up during the nursing sessions.
  • It teaches older child sharing while waiting for his turn to nurse.
  • Tandem breastfeeding can eliminate/reduce jealousy of a new baby and help siblings to bond faster.
  • Your toddler can still receive all the good benefits of breast milk.
  • Tandem breastfeeding helps mother to have some quiet and peaceful moments rather than having to occupy or deal with an active toddler who runs around and bangs pots while newborn is breastfeeding.

Benefits MOTHERS

  • Tandem nursing relieves engorgement.
  • Tandem nursing may increase the Lactational Amenorrhea while nursing.
  • To some women fertility returned earlier when nursing two children.
  • Breastfeeding 1 child helps mother lose weight. Imagine breastfeeding 2 at a time.
  • Helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

You can find bigger list of breastfeeding benefits here.

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Disadvantages of Tandem Breast Feeding

When talking about disadvantages of tandem nursing it is easy to associate and mix it up with just having and dealing with multiple children rather than 1.  

Next to some great pros of nursing your 2 children, there are however some cons of it.

  • Criticism and lack of support. Make sure you look for the right support as tandem nursing can already be very overwhelming at times. Having someone who supports you and advises you at the moments, instead of questioning your decisions, can save you a lot of unneeded stress. Keep in mind that people who supported you when you breastfed your 1st child, might not be as supportive when you breastfeed both at the same time.

Healthy nursing mother can provide enough breast milk to provide for two, three, or perhaps even four children since it works on a supply and demand basis.

  • Physical ability to nurse 2 children at once. It is hard to time their feedings even though toddlers usually adopt to newborn’s nursing schedule. Keep in mind that some toddlers get a habit of eating every time newborns eats. Which is a lot. Some mothers nurse children separately, but that takes longer time.
  • Nursing both children at the same time can over stimulate hormones for some mothers. Tandem breast feeding can be not as enjoyable anymore. Try feeding children separately. The unpleasant feeling of double nipple stimulation when nursing both children usually ends when mother’s menstrual period comes back. 

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     Nursing During Pregnancy
what to expect

Whether you are deciding or just going with the flow about tandem breast feeding you should keep in mind few factors.

  • To be able to nourish an unborn child and nursing toddler, mother needs to eat healthy, nutritious food so she can gain weight accordingly and get enough rest.
  • Mother’s milk supply will change during pregnancy. In fact, around the second trimester, milk will start changing into colostrum which will have different taste. Many children will wean at this moment. Some will eat less and will go back to normal nursing after the baby arrives and milk will taste heavenly good again. Other kids will not mind different taste of the milk and will continue nursing as an emotional closeness to the mother.
  • Many mothers experience sore nipples during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. It can get little more difficult when you add a nursing teething toddler to your breasts. That’s when a lot of women ‘give in’ on tandem breast feeding. While there is no medical treatment for it you could decrease the nursing sessions or try different breastfeeding positions with your toddler.

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Tandem Nursing
Is it safe?

tandem nursing

One of the main concerns that mothers who are debating whether to tandem breast feed is whether it’s safe for a newborn to share  mother’s milk with a sibling.

Is he getting enough milk?

Does milk provide all the nutrients and fats as supposed to?

Because of these unanswered questions many mothers choose to wean their children during pregnancy.

There seems to be no evidence that the unborn baby weighs any less at birth when his mother nursed through a pregnancy then when his mother doesn’t.

Could breastfeeding lead to preterm labor?

Years ago there used to be a belief that it is unsafe to breastfeed while pregnant. But thanks to many scientific research nursing while pregnant is proved to be totally healthy for mother and for children. It doesn’t do any nutritional risk to fetus or increase the miscarriage.

However, women who have a history of preterm labor or miscarriages from earlier pregnancies, nursing can increase the risk of miscarriage of preterm labor. It all depends how sensitive is mother’s uterus to hormone.

Consult your healthcare provider about this issue. 

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Tips for Successful Tandem Nursing

Become a pro at tandem breast feeding

1. Find your most comfortable position for nursing. Whether it’s laying down or sitting. Use nursing pillows under your arms, pillows to support your back.

2. Latch your little one first. Then let your flexible toddler find one of his acrobatic positions.

3. Let the baby latch on the fuller breast since he needs more nutrition (especially the first days). 

4. A big, king-size family bed is a must for nursing. Especially tandem nursing. A lot of stuff can be done there. Most importantly 2 things at once. Feed kids while laying down and resting.  I think tandem nursing cannot be done without co-sleeping.

5. Try different nursing positions to find the one that fits best for all of you.

  • Double cradle - baby's legs on toddler
  • Double Football - baby positioned on a pillow an toddler sitting next to you
  • Side-Lying - your toddler perched on your side or kneeling behind you
  • Lying on your back - each child positioned on a pillow.

6. Don’t forget to keep a healthy nutritious diet while nursing. Sleep as much as you can. Care less about the dishes or the dirty laundry.  After all you are providing nutrition and calories for 3 human beings.

7. Finding support is very important.

  • contact La Leche League
  • look for other mothers who support tandem nursing to get some fresh ideas or just have somebody to call on “one of those days”.
  • make sure your spouse is on board too since you might need his help with a lot of things (including those dishes and dirty laundry).

8. You don’t have to nurse both children at a time. If it is too much for you (and for many women it is) then you can do a lot of other activities with your toddler while your baby is nursing. Make a habit of a special story time every time you nurse. It will make a nice bonding moment. As long as you give him attention, your toddler should not feel left out.

9. Don’t expect it to be easy. There will be days where it will look like you won’t make it. Just think about the bigger picture then. They will not nurse forever. Yet you are giving them the best start in life possible. You and they will enjoy the benefits of tandem breastfeeding for the rest of the life. How amazing is that!

"Tandem Breast Feeding was one of the most difficult things I have done in my motherhood," admits one mother. "But it was also one of the most rewarding, I never regret it" she adds.

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