World Breastfeeding Week: Tandem Nursing

by Shannon Freeman, tandem nursing mother to Jessa, 4, and Eva, 18 months

Tandem nursing is like a tandem bicycle: two at a time! This can involve a toddler and an infant or nursing your twins. You can nurse them separately or together.

In order to nurse your toddler and infant, you must have nursed through your pregnancy or restarted nursing your older child, which is something a lot of people are not familiar with so let’s get past a few old wives’ tales.

1) You certainly can nurse during a pregnancy, although your milk supply may diminish significantly and your toddler may wean. At some point in your pregnancy your milk will begin to turn into colostrum for your new baby. It is fine for your toddler to drink this during pregnancy and beyond, although the taste might be much different and even "salty." Your nursing child will not take nutrition away from your unborn one. And, unless you have a high risk pregnancy and are on strict pelvic rest, it is perfectly safe.

2) You DO have enough milk to nurse two babies at the same time. Your toddler will not "steal" milk from the baby. It’s all about supply and demand and your breasts will amaze you at what they can accomplish. If you have twins, you will have an abundant milk supply and should be able to nurse them both.

3) It will not nutritionally rob you, either, although you should continue to eat plenty of healthy foods.

4) Tandem nursing is indeed developmentally normal and healthy. It has been going on since the beginning of time and still continues in many cultures. There may be a need to set boundaries and it can be challenging at times. However, most moms who tandem nurse believe it to be well worth it.

There are many benefits of continuing to nurse your older child along with your new baby. Sometimes a mother conceives a child when her baby is still very young and is definitely not ready to give up nursing. Your older child can help relieve engorgement after you have your new baby. Both children and mother receive excellent health benefits from breastfeeding. It has been shown that the longer a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer. Toddlers who nurse continue to receive the immunological benefits of breastmilk.

Overall, tandem nursing is a great way for children to bond together and relieve sibling rivalry. And it gives mom the opportunity to sit down and relax with her content children while meeting both of their needs.

If you would like to learn more about tandem nursing, I recommend the following books: Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Jane Bumgarner and Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower.

More information can be found here:

Celebrities who have tandem nursed include Patricia Richardson, Adrianne Barbeaux, Jane Seymour, Cybil Shepard, Ruth Pointer, Holly Robinson-Peete, Cynthia Watros, Jane Pauly, and Julia Roberts, who all nursed their twins.

Photos: Shannon (author) nursing her daughters Jessa, 3 years old, and Eva, 6 months old,; Elisabeth nursing her son while 35 weeks pregnant; Deborah and her sons Aidan, 3 years old, and Sean, 12 months old, Allison nursing her (preemie!) twins, Katelyn and Evelyn.

Note: All photos are copyright to the owner and subjects. Please do not reproduce these images.

Click the extended post for more photos of moms tandem breastfeeding.

Photos: Leslee nursing her babies, 1 week old and 22 monts old; Stacy nursing Scarlett, a few days old, and Damien, 2 1/2 years old; Konny nursing her daughter Vanessa, 20 months old, and Ava, 6 months old; Mollie nurssing Hannah and Kayla, 8 months old; Redhead twins.

Note: All photos are copyright to the owner and subjects. Please do not reproduce these images.

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