What’s Tandem Nursing?

Portrait of a cute curly toddler girl playing with the feet of hSo, you’re breastfeeding your child right now and loving it, but you have another baby on the way. What are you supposed to do now? A flood of questions is undoubtedly bothering you. Can you keep breastfeeding? Will your milk taste the same to your child? Will your new baby have enough milk if you’re trying to nurse both?

The fabulous news is that you can breastfeed both of them, a task known as tandem nursing. Nurse at the same time with one at each breast, or nurse them separately, alternating feedings throughout the day. Tandem nursing is normal, safe, and totally doable. Women have been doing it for centuries!


Why Do Mothers Tandem Nurse?

A mother has many reasons to consider tandem nursing. Most of us are aware that the arrival of a baby can cause older siblings to feel threatened and left out and with tandem nursing, both children are receiving consistent love and attention from mom at the breast. This is also a time when the older child can see that her new sibling gets milk from mom too, and you could even say that this is their first “shared interest.”

Perhaps the most common reason mothers tandem nurse is that their older child simply isn’t ready to be done with breastfeeding. It’s always an excellent decision to honor your breastfeeding child’s breastfeeding needs rather than abruptly wean before he’s ready, especially considering that most children around the world are breastfeeding well over 2 years old.


Will My Newborn Baby Get Enough Milk If I Tandem Nurse?

A common myth is that the younger child won’t get enough milk. This simply isn’t true. Breasts will adapt as demand for milk changes, meaning that when you start nursing your newborn, your body will adapt and step up to the challenge of feeding an entirely new second child.

Contrary to popular belief, you won’t have to interrupt nursing your child while pregnant with the next one. Lots of people believe that breastfeeding robs the fetus of essential nutrients, but this is a dangerously off-base myth. In reality, breastfeeding during a healthy pregnancy causes no harm to the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’ve delivered babies prematurely in the past or have had miscarried pregnancies. The uterus contracts during breastfeeding, which is thought to increase the chances of delivering preterm again, but this isn’t necessarily a reason to avoid breastfeeding. Sex also stimulates contractions of the uterus, but to a larger extent, so if you’re still permitted to have sex, chances are you can breastfeed and be just fine.

You will probably notice that you’re producing less milk, usually around your fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. So if your nursing baby is less than a year old, make sure to monitor his weight. This is very manageable and you can work out a healthy solution with your doctor, which will likely include adding supplements to your baby’s diet.


Will My Older Baby Still Like Nursing?

Your child may notice a different flavor to your milk during your pregnancy. If she doesn’t like it, she might naturally wean on her own. Since each child moves at their own pace, you don’t have to worry if this happens. It’s very common. Occasionally, children see their mother nursing their new sibling and want to resume breastfeeding after they’ve weaned. They might be able to nurse again, but they also might find that they’ve forgotten how to latch properly. If they’ve forgotten but feel left out, you can always offer a taste of your milk on a spoon or in your cup to make your older child feel included.

A bonus for your older child is that she gets to have colostrum, the milk that your body only produces right after pregnancy, all over again. This milk that your breasts only produce immediately after giving birth is full of living cells that boost your children’s immune systems.

Sometimes pregnant mothers fear that nipple soreness will get in the way of breastfeeding. It’s true that this can cause discomfort while nursing, but it doesn’t have to be viewed as a deal breaker. You can ask your child to nurse for shorter chunks of time if he can understand what it means to wait. You can also teach him how to do so in gentler manner, if he’s old enough to understand. Many women also find that if they position their babies in certain ways while feeding, they feel less sore. In addition to all these strategies, you might also try breathing deeply and calmly. This will reduce inflammation as well as help you to relax. So, while nipple pain can be challenging, there are definitely lots of ways to get around it.

Tandem nursing is incredibly rewarding. What better way to bond as a family? Have fun following this time-honored tradition as you and your older child welcome your newest family member.

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