What is Tandem Nursing?
Many moms don’t specifically choose to tandem nurse – it’s just something they fall into when they get pregnant again but their already breastfed baby isn’t ready to wean. Tandem nursing simply means you have two different-aged babies who are concurrently breastfed.
If you’re thinking of tandem nursing, you likely have questions!
- Is it safe to keep breastfeeding during pregnancy? There isn’t any evidence that nursing your older baby does any harm to your pregnancy – your body will take what it needs first for your pregnancy, then for your nursling, and finally for you. So you may fell more pronounced fatigue and other symptoms. In addition, there’s no evidence that the oxytocin released during breastfeeding will cause uterine contractions strong enough to cause labor to start.
- But will my body make the right kind of milk for my newborn? Over the course of your pregnancy, your mature milk will start to change back to colostrum, which will be appropriate for your newborn. Your older nursling may not like the change in taste or flow, and you may experience nipple pain.
- Can I possibly make enough milk for two? The more milk that’s removed from the breast, the more milk you will make. So, when you have two babies nursing, you will make enough milk to satisfy them both.
- Shouldn’t I just wean my older child? Whether or not to wean your older baby is a personal decision. If your child is younger than one year, you will need to replace those breastfeedings with formula or expressed milk. If your child is older, he may be ready for weaning. Don’t be surprised, though, if your weaned baby wants to try nursing again after the new baby comes along.
- What if I’m uncomfortable with nursing two? Nothing is set in stone. If you start tandem nursing and you’re feeling touched out or overly fatigued, maybe some changes are necessary. Consider your goals and make adjustments so that everyone’s needs are met – including your own.
- What are the rewards of tandem nursing? Looking down at siblings holding hands while nursing is reward enough! Sharing food can help to stem some of the rivalry between siblings, and may help your older child adjust to the new family structure.
The greatest part of mothering is that it’s flexible. When something isn’t working the way you’d like, you have the power to make changes that work best for everyone. The decision to tandem nurse may or may not work out for you and your babies. But knowing what to expect can help head off problems, and make the most.