The Do’s and Don’ts of Tandem Nursing
If you’re an expectant mother who is still nursing another child, congratulations! A lot of moms who breastfeed stop after their child’s first birthday, so kudos to you for keeping it up!
You might, however, be wondering if you have to give up breastfeeding with your first child when the second one comes along (or your second child when the third one comes along – or whatever your situation may be.) There’s good news – you don’t have to!
Tandem nursing, or nursing two children at one time, will allow you to breastfeed both of your babies, ensuring that they get all of those valuable nutrients from your breast milk. Plus, you’ll enjoy quality bonding time with each of your little ones – and they’ll enjoy quality bonding time together, too!
Tandem breastfeeding is perfectly safe for you and your little ones. No, one child won’t hog up the other child’s milk. Why? Because a woman’s body is quite amazing, and her breasts have the ability to adjust and supply enough milk to meet the needs of both children. Nursing two children can also help to relieve engorgement issues for mom, too.
If you’re thinking about trying tandem breastfeeding, here’s are some tips that can help make the process as successful as possible so that both of your children can reap all the benefits.
The Do’s of Tandem Breastfeeding
First, let’s take a look at some of the dos of tandem breastfeeding…
Do consider order
If you want to breastfeed both babies at one time, you certainly can; however, if you prefer to feed one child at a time, make sure you keep order in mind. If you are feeding a toddler and an infant, feed the infant first. His nutritional needs are more immediate, as his only nourishment is coming from you. Your toddler, on the other hand, is also receiving nourishment from solid food and other liquids.
If you’re breastfeeding twins, feed the one who fed last, first, during your next nursing session.
With that said, if your toddler wants to have a quick suckle and not a full meal, you might want to consider feeding him first. The baby will take longer to feed, and your toddler may get restless.
Do experiment with positions
One of the keys to successful breastfeeding – even for just one child – is finding the right position. The same is true if you are feeding two at the same time.
Get creative and try some different positions. You might want to try cradling one and doing the football hold with the other, or cradling both. If you’re nursing a toddler, having him stand up while you cradle a baby could work for you. Don’t be afraid to bring in pillows, too. They can offer a great deal of support for your children, and for you. You might want to put a pillow under the child in the football hold, for example.
Once you figure out the best position, you’ll be able really find success with tandem breastfeeding.
Do take breaks
Breastfeeding one child can be tiring, and breastfeeding two can be downright exhausting. If at all possible, take naps when the baby is sleeping, and try to get the toddler to take a nap, too. Also, you might want to consider only feeding the toddler at certain times of the day to alleviate some of the pressure; once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once before bed, for example.
Do find support
Finding a lactation consultant who has experience with tandem nursing can be a huge help. This expert will be able to share valuable insight, and offer tips and tricks that will make nursing two children a lot easier for all parties involved.
You can also look into joining a support group, such as the La Leche League. You’ll find tons of great resources in these groups; plus, you’ll feel empowered to move forward with your tandem nursing experience.
The Don’ts of Tandem Breastfeeding
Now that you know some of the dos, let’s examine some of the don’ts when it comes to tandem breastfeeding…
Don’t listen to critics
Breastfeeding two children isn’t as commonplace as feeding one (and moms can face a lot of criticism about that, too.) Don’t be surprised if you hear people making inappropriate comments, or if you see some eyes rolling. Just let the criticism roll off your shoulders. You know what’s best for you and your children.
Don’t feel guilty
If are finding that tandem nursing is just too much, you might be thinking about weaning your toddler. Don’t feel guilty about it. Breastfeeding is hard work, especially when you’re doing it for two. Remember that you have devoted a lot of time to your toddler’s nursing, and you aren’t his main source of nutrition.
To ease the transition, have a talk with your toddler. Explain that he is getting so big and doesn’t need your milk anymore. Tell him how proud you are of him, and set a date for your last breastfeeding session. Make that last feeding session extra special by making it all about him; let your toddler choose where to feed and in what position, and let him nurse as long as he wants.
If you are fortunate enough to successfully engage in tandem breastfeeding, you are truly blessed. Remember to have patience, and above all else, enjoy this amazing time with your little ones. It will be over before you know it!
About the author
Samara Kamenecka is a New York-born freelance writer and translator living in Madrid. When she’s not busy trying to mold her two kids into functional, contributing members of society, she can usually be found enjoying a glass of wine (or three), or eating ice cream straight out of the container. You can find her blogging over at Tiny Fry, and you can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.