March 9, 2008
Question: What is tandem nursing?
Tandem nursing is when two siblings of different ages breastfeed together. It generally comes about because the older baby was too young to wean, and continued nursing throughout a pregnancy, although it is possible for a baby to temporarily stop nursing, only to start again after the new baby is born.
Question: How hard is tandem nursing?
All of my children have shared the breasts with a sibling, and I have 5 kids, the youngest being 5 months. That means I’ve been nursing for 7.5 years. It is a challenge, to be sure! But it is equally rewarding.
Nursing a toddler is different than nursing a newborn, but that is actually good news when a new baby is born!
Question: Is tandem nursing more challenging than nursing a small baby and having a toddler who is already weaned?
In some ways, yes, and in some ways, no. Yes, because you have to juggle two hungry babies with their own nursing needs and styles, and you are literally going to make more milk… But no, because tandem nursing means quiet naptimes together on the big bed (Peace on earth!) Plus, tandem nursing means that engorgement is LESS of an issue. After birth and for the first 3-4 months, breasts can get really heavy with milk, and the older baby can soften and prepare the nipple for a hungry baby who would otherwise be unable to nurse. (It’s either that, or express and waste extra milk. I had to do that with my first)
Question: What was your biggest tandem nursing challenge?
Well, worrying if my youngest was going to get enough milk. I weaned my first child partly because of this concern when my second born was about 8 months old. (and I apparently got pregnant immediately, as a result) However, I generally feel less overextended than I would if I didn’t tandem nurse.
Question: Does Tandem nursing make you feel “sucked dry?”
With or without a new baby, toddlers can make Mommy feel that way. So I wouldn’t say that tandem nursing is so much to blame. Nursing a toddler is a whole different experience than nursing a small baby. You have to balance the needs, desire, and will of the baby against that of the mother. It is important for the success of a tandem breastfeeding relationship that the mother feels that she can put certain limits on the relationship with her toddler if she needs to. However, if you can do that, it is a wonderful and rewarding experience.
Filed under Frequently Asked Questions by Jessica