Tandem Nursing

What is Tandem Nursing?

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

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 himself/herself  naturally.

Nursing while pregnant is not dangerous for you or your unborn child. Read more about this here.

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 he/she is told that they may not breastfeed anymore! This extended breastfeeding for your toddler, will help create less resentful feelings towards you and the baby brother or sister. Children will also learn to share at a very young age.
  • Your toddler still receives all the benefits of breast milk.
  • Tandem nursing can relieve breast engorgement in some mothers.
  • A decreased risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer in mothers who tandem nurse. 
  • If both your children are breast feeding at the same time, it will give you some time to relax, as you will not need to keep your toddler busy while you breastfeed.

Disadvantages of Tandem Breastfeeding

  • Some mothers struggle to lose extra weight while tandem nursing. 
  • You will need to deal with critical people that make bad 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 and this can cause them to feel as if all they ever do is breastfeed.
  • Some mothers may experience strong feelings of sexual arousal whilst tandem breast feeding, caused by higher levels of certain hormones.
  • Some mothers feel more nauseous during a breastfeeding session, whilst 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 that is produced during the last weeks of pregnancy and when the baby is born. Yes, it is safe; actually it is really 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. You will have enough for both, as colostrum works on the same supply and demand system as breastmilk. If you are really worried about this, you can always breastfeed your newborn baby first and then let your older child drink. Your toddler might not like the change in the taste of your milk (colostrum) and might even wean himself/herself off of 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.

Tips for Tandem Nursing

  • Eat extra healthy 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 at year two. This is just the way nature intended it.
  • Try different positions for breastfeeding:
  1. Hold both in a cradle hold.
  2. Hold both in a football hold.
  3. Hold one in a football hold and one in a cradle hold.
  4. There are so many different ways to tandem feed, in the end you will most likely find something completely different that works for just the three of you.

If you do decide to wean your child before you give birth, you can read more about gradual weaning here. 

Tandem Breastfeeding Positions

Most moms have a great time tandem nursing and others wish they had weaned their toddler before the baby was born. My advice, is that if you feel any irritation during pregnancy while breastfeeding, 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.

Other pages on “breastfeeding problems” related to tandem feeding

- Breastfeeding your twins

- Breastfeeding positions

- Pregnant and breastfeeding

Breastfeeding older children

Advantages of extended breastfeeding

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Is this true? specialist told me I have to stop 
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I am13 weeks pregnant and still BF my 14 month old son. Not sure whether to stop BF before the new baby comes or carry on and tandem feed?? Am worried …

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My baby was just 4 months, when I got pregnant again.. I continued breast feeding him throughout my pregnancy, though milk supply was reduced noticeably... …

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Site by BFeeding Mamma, Tracy Behr. Currently studying through Child birth International (CBC, CBD). Also an accomplished author and Mommy of two.