Tandem Nursing, Nursing a Older Child and your Newborn

Just the thought of nursing two children at a time, whether we are talking about twins, or nursing a newborn and your toddler is enough to scare many women. But many women have done it and have had very positive experiences. Of course, there are some who have negative feelings as well. So I want us to get some objective information on the possibility of tandem nursing, and the wisdom of taking it on.
Everything comes back to each individual woman, and how she wants to raise her children. The most important thing to consider is “How do I feel about this?”. Am I trying to please my child or my husband, but I have misgivings? Do I really want to nurse my toddler through my pregnancy, but everyone else is against it? These questions are vital, because you are the only one who is going to carry the burden. When you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or raising a child, everyone has an opinion of what is best, but the only one that counts is your own informed decision.
Suppose that your child is 7mos old when you discover that you are expecting another baby, and your present baby shows no sign of weaning. Can you continue to nurse? The simple answer is “yes”, but these are things to consider. In early pregnancy you experience nipple soreness, and nursing at this time can be uncomfortable for many women, but this varies with each person. You may also be experiencing some nausea, and nursing the older child makes this worse. But if you worry about weaning before your child is ready, you can work these things out. Many women worry that uterine contractions caused by nursing could cause premature labor or delivery. If you have had no history of miscarriage, and have had no bleeding or complications of early pregnancy, you should not have to worry. Oxytocin is the hormone that causes the contractions, and we have those naturally during sexual intercourse, without causing early labor in a normal pregnancy.
During the last trimester, your milk supply will be less than normal, and this can cause a child to wean themselves, and as you begin to make colostrum, the taste and texture of the milk changes. This causes no harm to your infant, but they may not like the change, or they may not notice at all. Letting your older infant nurse will not diminish the colostrum for the new baby, our bodies supply what is needed. Sometimes everything is going well with nursing in pregnancy, but with the birth of the new infant, your feelings can change, and you could feel very overwhelmed. Be prepared to change plans if the need arises. Be sensitive to your own needs and wishes. Your older child can be weaned gradually, if you are sensitive to their need for your cuddling and attention, and the upheaval of a new sibling.
If you want to try to tandem nurse during a pregnancy or even while the new baby is young, it is safe and possible, though demanding. Many cultures consider this the norm, and wonder at Americans reluctance to do this. Many cultures nurse their children well into toddlerhood. LeLeche League has wonderful information on Tandem nursing, so do some research before you begin, and make an informed choice, one that is good for you and your baby. And if it isn’t for you, accept that and find other ways to love and nurture the older child. All we really need is that feeling that “Mom loves me.”

If you have questions, please feel free to contact Dewlene at 817-821-6970 Submitted by Dewlene Broyles,RNC, IBCLC of Mom Support