Tandem Nursing

A guide for mothers looking to understand the complexities and rewards of tandem nursing.

mother and babies, tandem nursing
Mother with her two young children. 

What Is Tandem Nursing?

Tandem nursing is apparent when a mother falls pregnant while nursing and then has to nurse her toddler and baby simultaneously or if the mother is breastfeeding twins.

Is nursing during pregnancy dangerous? If you fall pregnant while breastfeeding, you do not need to wean your child, you can tandem feed and wait for your toddler to wean themself naturally.

Most toddlers wean themselves during pregnancy (due to low supply and changes in the taste of the milk) but sometimes resume breastfeeding after the new baby’s birth.

They may feed together or at separate times. A mother with multiple births might also decide to breastfeed all her babies; this is also a form of tandem breastfeeding.

The mother’s body will be producing colostrum for her newborn baby. The mother will produce enough milk for her children due to supply and demand. The more milk removed from her breasts, the more she will produce.

tandem nursing, brothers, boy kissing his brother
Big brother kisses.

Advantages of Tandem Nursing

Tandem benefits include:

  • Breastfeeding tandem reduces jealousy and helps to increase bonding between siblings. When the new baby arrives, your toddler might feel a little left out, especially if they are told they may not breastfeed any more! This extended breastfeeding for your toddler will help create less resentful feelings towards you and the baby's brother or sister. Children will also learn to share at a very young age.
  • Breastfeeding provides a way for you to bond with both of your children at the same time, as well as keep both of them occupied at the same time.
  • Your older child will continue to benefit from breast milk for as long as they breastfeed. Breastfeeding will provide nutrition, immune protection, gut protection, and emotional benefits.
  • Tandem nursing can relieve breast engorgement in some mothers.
  • There is a decreased risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer in mothers who tandem nurse.
  • Because of the increased demand for breast milk, your breast milk supply will be more than plentiful; this is especially helpful if your newborn is struggling to latch.
tandem nursing, nursing two
Pregnant mother and her baby.

Disadvantages of Tandem Breastfeeding

  • Some mothers struggle to lose extra weight while tandem nursing.
  • You will need to deal with critical people who make nasty remarks. They may say that your newborn will not be receiving enough milk when tandem feeding; this is not true.
  • Some mothers may decide to breastfeed their children at separate times, which can cause them to feel as if all they ever do is breastfeed.
  • Some mothers feel nauseous during breastfeeding sessions while they are pregnant.

When Your Body Starts to Produce Colostrum

A mother might wonder whether it is safe for their toddler to drink the colostrum produced during the last weeks of pregnancy and when the baby is born. Yes, it is safe; it is like an immune boost for your toddler and contains extra nutrients and antibodies.

A mother may also worry that there will not be enough colostrum for two children. It is best to allow your toddler to breastfeed after a nursing session with the newborn; this can be done for the first five days until the colostrum has turned into mature milk.

Your toddler might not like the change in the taste of your milk (colostrum) and could even wean themself off the breast as a result.

The colostrum might make your toddler's stools a little runny, but this will only last until your mature milk comes in again.

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Tips for Tandem Nursing

  • If you decide to wean your child before giving birth, you can learn more about gradual weaning here.
  • Eat extra healthily, and do not try dieting while breastfeeding to lose weight. Your body will naturally get rid of the fat stores when your second child decides to wean himself; this is just the way nature intended it. Also, drink lots of fluid.
  • Do not assign a breast to one child alone. Let them breastfeed equally as much from both breasts; this will prevent lopsidedness.
  • The baby’s intake should be monitored by checking weight gain, urine and stool output, and audible swallowing sounds.
  • It is not necessary to clean each breast before allowing the other to feed.
  • Most moms have an excellent time tandem nursing, and others wish they had weaned their toddler before the baby was born. My advice is that if you have any doubt about the tandem relationship, it would be best to wean your toddler before your baby comes along; this will prevent your older child from being weaned abruptly when your baby is born.

Tandem Breastfeeding Positions

Try different positions for breastfeeding:

  • Hold both in a cradle hold.
  • Hold both in a football hold.
  • Hold one in a football hold and one in a cradle hold.

There are so many different ways to tandem feed. Ultimately, you will most likely find something completely different that works for the three of you.

Tandem Breastfeeding Twins