I want to start things off by saying breastfeeding is a different journey for every mother. There is no comparing one situation to the next! It is my hope that all mamas get the chance to have a long and happy breastfeeding journey, even if it is hard at first. One tricky situation that you might find yourself in is tandem breastfeeding. We are here to tell you all you need to know about it and hopefully make it seem a bit less daunting.
What is Tandem Breastfeeding?
Tandem breastfeeding is when you nurse two of your babies at the same time. It is common among moms of multiples, but may also be used by moms who have children close in age. When nursing twins tandem breastfeeding often means one baby on each breast. If you are tandem nursing two different aged children you may use tandem nursing in a couple of different ways.
Nursing is often the predominant nutrient source for your infant during their first year of life. This is why if you have another baby, you may still want to nurse your older child. Keep in mind, you may want to nurse your younger baby first. This will ensure that they receive an adequate amount of milk. However, if you are producing too much milk, tandem nursing may actually benefit you. You can tandem breastfeed your toddler to reduce engorgement when your baby is done nursing or in between sessions.
Another reason to tandem breastfeed is if you have a fast letdown. Some infants can struggle with a fast-letdown and have difficulty latching. A toddler may be better able to handle the letdown until it subsides at which point the infant may then be nursed.
Will I Like Tandem Nursing?
Whether or not you will like tandem nursing is largely dependent on your lifestyle and personality. Tandem nursing can be difficult, especially at first. You are learning to adjust to a new baby and will still be required to meet the nursing demands of your toddler. If you are nursing twins, you will have to manage the schedule and demands of two infants. Tandem nursing can be overwhelming in either scenario, but worth the struggle in the end!
Tandem nursing certainly has benefits. After a period of time, you will probably get your children on a regulated schedule and nursing will not be exceedingly time-consuming. Of course, there are innumerable health and emotional benefits associated with breastfeeding. There are also positive aspects when nursing an infant and toddler. You will be able to connect with both your children and your toddler and infant will be able to bond through nursing as well. In addition, continuing breastfeeding your toddler will help to sustain some semblance of your routine pre-baby, comforting your older child.
Many women find that nursing a toddler can be used to soothe them during difficult situations and provides them with an opportunity to sit, rest, and reconnect with both their children. There are pros and cons to tandem nursing, ultimately you will have to decide for yourself if you like it.
Some Things to Consider When Tandem Breastfeeding
Tandem nursing can have a variety of benefits beyond engorgement and letdown control. Tandem nursing can help bond your older child and the new baby. During a time when your toddler may be suffering from feelings of jealousy and detachment, nursing can be a beneficial way to soothe these anxieties.
In addition, studies have shown that children still receive health and nutrient benefits from breastfeeding beyond the first year. Nursing your toddler will continue to provide them with health and emotional support.
Providing Sufficient Nutrients to Your Newborn
When tandem breastfeeding, you may be concerned about providing a sufficient amount of milk to your newborn. It is important that your baby receives an adequate amount of breastmilk to sustain nutrition and weight gain. One of the ways in which this can be remedied is by always nursing your infant first, this will ensure that they are able to nurse for as long as they want and obtain as much milk as they want.
You may also want to nurse one child from each breast. This will ensure that your baby is receiving hindmilk and foremilk. However, if your newborn is able to empty one complete breast you should then put them onto the other breast to continue nursing.
Milk Production Concerns
Another consideration is milk production and if you will have enough milk to nurse two children. In most cases, the demand from both children will stimulate production. Nursing is regulated by supply and demand. When you are nursing more than one child, your body should respond to the increased demands.
Mama’s Well Being
The final consideration is the wellbeing of the mom. Nursing can lead to cracked and dry nipples, but as you have been continually nursing a toddler your breasts should be conditioned. You will likely not have to worry about nipple pain or soreness. Nursing also demands a great deal of the mother’s body. Be sure to get plenty of healthy calories and plenty of sleep.
Does My Newborn Always Need to Nurse First?
During the first few days to weeks your newborn should nurse first. Nursing your infant first will help to set your supply levels and ensure that your infant receives adequate nutrition. After birth you will be producing colostrum, a vital nutrient source for your newborn, so be sure to give them first dibs.
After a short period, you can nurse both children at the same time, one on each breast. You may also want to continue nursing the toddler after your infant, or maintain different nursing schedules in which they nurse at separate times.
What To Do if a “Weaned” Child Asks to Breastfeed Again?
Nursing a newborn can reignite a desire for nursing in a weaned child. Whether or not you choose to begin tandem breastfeeding with your weaned child again is at your discretion. It is also okay to comfort your toddler in other ways instead of nursing again. If you do so, be kind but firm and be sure to devote periods of time and attention solely to your toddler while your partner cares for the baby.
Alternatively, you can begin nursing your toddler again. It may be easier to nurse both children at the same time so that you are not burdened with an additional nursing session or sessions.
What Positions Are Best for Tandem Breastfeeding?
You can tandem nurse using the same positions that you find comfortable for breastfeeding a single child. Some positions you may want to try when nursing two children include:
- A football hold, in which each child’s body is directed under your arm and behind your body.
- A cradle hold, in which the baby is positioned across the toddler’s lap.
- A combination hold, in which one child is in a football hold and the other is in a cradle hold.
- The toddler leaning on you or kneeling while the infant is cradled. It is likely that your toddler is now adept at nursing in a variety of positions and will be able to acclimate themselves to the position of the newborn.
Tandem nursing can be a great experience and bond both you and your children in ways you never thought possible. If you are considering tandem nursing it may be beneficial to speak with friends who have tandem nursed or seek out those with the first-hand experience to determine if you may be suited to tandem nursing. Check out the Rookie Moms Facebook Group, where you will find a tribe of moms to ask for advice!
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