Pros and Cons of Tandem nursing/ 7 Tips for Success
Tandem nursing may be a good choice for you and your family. Continuing to nurse your toddler has benefits such as vitamins and protection from illness. Tandem nursing does have its challenges along with the benefits. You may want to weigh out the pros and cons of tandem nursing. Ultimately, you are the mother and you will know what is best for you and your children.
My two youngest children are 17 months apart. I was still breastfeeding when I found out I was pregnant. I’ve nursed all four of my children. You can also read my post on Breastfeeding Tips . My daughter was super attached to me. She slept with me at night and I would nurse her to sleep. I carried her in the baby carrier wherever I would go. I thought tandem nursing would be a good choice for my situation. I didn’t want her to feel less loved or that the new baby was more important than her. Of course, I went through the normal mom guilt when adding another child to the family. The mom guilt that a child will feel less loved because of the new baby.
Breastfeeding while pregnant was painful for me. My breasts were very sensitive. I felt irritable when she would nurse because my breasts hurt and my uterus would cramp. I let my OB know that breastfeeding caused uterus cramping but the doctors reassured me it was normal and not to worry, as long as the cramping would stop at the point when my baby was finished with her nursing session. My daughter would want to nurse for long periods of time and it was very uncomfortable. As the pregnancy progressed, my back hurt, my hips hurt, and every inch of my body hurt. I produced less milk during the pregnancy and I stopped producing milk when I was about 6 months pregnant. I started giving her milk in a bottle to help her fall asleep since she was used to nursing and falling asleep. She was about 14 months old at this point. The bottles of milk were helping with the transition of not nursing. I thought I wouldn’t be able to tandem nurse because my milk stopped. She started nursing less and then stopped completely. Then when she was 15 months old we went on vacation and I wanted her to nurse on the plane to help with her ears. I nursed her all the way to the destination. From then on, she wanted to nurse all the time. She wasn’t getting milk, she just enjoyed the comfort. I had no milk for about four weeks and then I produced the colostrum. She still nursed frequently with the colostrum. The first few times she would get surprised when she tasted it but then she would continue. Then she was used to the new taste.
When I gave birth my milk came in two days and I was producing a lot of milk. Nursing was really easy this time. I didn’t have any pain and didn’t have to get back in the process of nursing. I was already in nursing mode, if you know what I mean. My breasts were used to nursing so nipples didn’t get sore and chapped.
When my daughter visited me in the hospital I was able to nurse her. I let all the nurses know that I would be tandem nursing and their advice was always to make sure I feed the infant first and then feed my toddler. I did my best with following that advice. I produced more than enough milk for both of them.
My daughter would get jealous when I breastfed my son. Every time I would nurse him she would want to nurse too. I tried nursing them both at the same time. This usually didn’t work because they both would get irritated with the other one being too close. But it did work a few times. What worked best for me was to nurse one on one side and when he was done, nurse the other one on the other side. Every time my newborn would cry my toddler would start screaming because she knew I would nurse him. She seemed to feel like my breasts were just for her and she didn’t want to share. She wanted to nurse more often after he was born. I was like a cow in a cage being used for my milk. I would try and get my toddler to do different things like playing games but she would only want to nurse, nothing else.
Bedtime was a nightmare with them both wanting to nurse and crying and keeping each other up. I decided I needed to wean her because the jealousy was too much and I couldn’t do anything but breastfeed all day. Plus she was getting older.
I started weaning her by nursing her less frequently and giving her less time to nurse. I would tell her, “ okay, almost done.” She would cry a lot at first but she adjusted and then stopped. She was 23 months old when she weaned so they tandem nursed for 6 months.
Pros and cons of tandem nursing
I was able to continue breastfeeding throughout my pregnancy. My daughter was able to get the benefits from breast milk until she was 2 years old.
Breastfeeding during my pregnancy was painful and uncomfortable. I felt irritable while nursing because of the discomfort.
I was able to include my daughter in breastfeeding. She was still the baby and had that one on one attention while nursing.
My daughter was jealous and felt like my breasts were just for her. She didn’t want to do other activities, just nurse.
Nursing was super easy. I didn’t have any nipple soreness. My milk came in right away. I was producing a lot of milk. I was very comfortable nursing the new baby.
I was a cow in a cage used only for my milk. Breastfeeding an infant takes a lot of time and then adding a toddler, was just nonstop.
I could nurse my toddler when my breasts were engorged so she could relieve the discomfort. I never had painful engorged breasts. Also, it’s harder to feed the newborn when your breasts are too full so the toddler can empty some of the milk so it’s easier for the newborn to suck.
My milk had a faster flow. My newborn would choke on the milk more often.
My tips if you plan on tandem nursing
1. Be prepared that nursing while pregnant can cause uterus cramping. Your breasts will be extra sensitive which can make nursing painful. It can be quite uncomfortable and demanding on your body.
2. Continue to breastfeed when your milk stops. Your baby can forget how to nurse correctly and use too much teeth while sucking.
3. It could be helpful to have your toddler on a nursing schedule. Specific time of day and a timed amount of nursing. You can play a song and say once the song is over it’s time to stop. These are also ways to wean your toddler. Having your toddler on a nursing schedule may help you when you begin to have the nursing demands of a newborn.
4. Bedtime is challenging with two babies who want to nurse. Definitely take the help if it’s offered to you. Otherwise, know that it will get easier and easier. Remember, this time shall pass. When I would lie down to nurse my newborn, my toddler would cuddle against my back. This worked for me and became a routine that she would want to lay next to me against my back. She would have her side and he would have his side on the bed. Luckily he didn’t have to nurse himself to sleep. He could nurse and then get in a comfortable position and fall asleep.
5. Tandem nursing is exhausting and demanding. Make sure you are eating well and drinking a lot of fluid. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your children.
6. Breastfeeding your toddler while pregnant and tandem nursing can cause irritable feelings. Don’t feel guilty if this happens to you. It’s okay to choose to stop breastfeeding your toddler if you feel too agitated
7. Breastfeeding can be beautiful and wonderful for you and your babies. It can also be exhausting. Know that this time shall pass. This will be a very difficult time in your life especially if you don’t have people helping you. But this time is temporary. Your babies will get older and less dependent and your life will get easier. Newborns and toddlers are so emotionally and physically draining. That’s why God made them so cute. Soon enough , they’re going to be four years old and so much easier. Then one day they will want to move out, get married, have their own children. They won’t need you as much anymore. You’ll miss when they were babies, when they depended on you for everything.
Tandem nursing can be a beneficial choice for you and your toddler. You will continue providing your toddler with extra nutrition and antibodies. Your toddler continues to have the bonding moments of nursing. Tandem nursing can also be challenging and demanding on you. Be prepared for the challenges. Don’t feel guilty if it’s not working for you. Take care of yourself first, so you can be strong enough to care for your babies. If you can continue breastfeeding, then good for you. Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience for mother and child.
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