Tandem breastfeeding and how to make it work
Breastfeeding can be stressful, but after months of trying to make it work, you finally get the hang of it. You and your baby are both happy and healthy, and suddenly you realise you are pregnant. You’ll probably have a lot of questions. Should you continue nursing? Do you have to wean your baby? Is your milk safe for your baby to consume? In this article, we’ll talk about tandem breastfeeding, why breastfeeding while pregnant is safe, its benefits and some tips on how to make it work! Do remember to check with your doctor regardless of what your decision is.
What is tandem breastfeeding?
Tandem breastfeeding or nursing is breastfeeding more than one child at the same time. For instance, a toddler and a newborn at once.
It’s a common misconception that once you get pregnant, you must stop breastfeeding for the health of you and your baby. However, this isn’t the case. Let’s talk about what breastfeeding while pregnant is actually safer than you think.
Why breastfeeding while pregnant is safe
Development of the unborn baby
Many mummies think that breastfeeding during pregnancy deprives your foetus of its nutrients. This isn’t true if you eat enough! During your second and third trimester, you need to eat an additional 350-450 calories per day, on top of what you need to consume for breastfeeding. This means breastfeeding while pregnant means you need an additional 500 to 650 calories per day. You’ll also need sufficient protein and calcium intake while taking in enough fluids!
You’ve probably heard that breastfeeding while pregnant causes contractions and premature labour. The reasoning behind this is that oxytocin, produced and released during breastfeeding stimulates labour.
However, it should be noted that the amount of oxytocin released while pregnant and breastfeeding is a lot less than the amount released when you are breastfeeding but not pregnant. This means that the amount of oxytocin released is not enough to cause your cervix to prematurely dilate or cause contractions.
You may have heard that breastfeeding while pregnant causes miscarriages. But there’s no evidence to support this claim.
Miscarriages can occur due to many factors and oftentimes there is no explanation for one.
Milk compatibility for a nursing child
While it is true that pregnancy hormones pass into your milk, it is not true that they make the milk unsafe for your nursing child. Only a small amount of these hormones pass into your milk and they pose no harm to the child you are breastfeeding while pregnant.
However, your child may decide to wean on their own. In the second trimester, the taste of your milk may change and your nursing child may not like the taste. Your supply will also dip during pregnancy, causing some children to wean themselves.
When you might have to wean
You may have to wean for your and your unborn’s safety. Let your doctor know you are intending on breastfeeding while pregnant so they can best advise you.
- Pregnancy complications/ high-risk pregnancy
- Pregnant with twins or multiples
- Bleeding, contractions or uterine
- The foetus is not growing well
Now that we’ve established that tandem breastfeeding is safe, let’s talk about some of its benefits!
Benefits of tandem nursing
Increased milk supply
Since breastmilk works on a demand and supply basis, two mouths to feed can cause your milk supply to double! This is to accommodate feeding two children and triggers more milk production.
Connects toddler and baby
Tandem breastfeeding can help to provide a smooth transition for the older child. Sometimes, for the older child, it is hard to adjust to a new baby in the family. Tandem nursing can help to ease the transition and promote sibling bonding with an activity they can do together.
Sometimes, a toddler that has been weaned may want to nurse again after seeing their mum breastfeed the new baby. If you are comfortable with this, it can be a great bonding experience.
Tips for tandem breastfeeding
Drink lots of water and consume lots of calories
As discussed earlier, breastfeeding while pregnant requires lots of extra calories! Tandem breastfeeding is demanding as well, and you will have to continue consuming extra calories. You’ll have to eat well and drink lots of water to keep up with the demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Let your newborn nurse first
During your newborn’s first week of life, you will be producing colostrum, which contains antibodies and is great for the newborn. Let your baby nurse from the fullest breast first and offer your toddler the same breast later. After your milk properly comes in, you don’t have to do that anymore.
However, letting your newborn nurse first is important to make sure they’re getting enough milk to grow well since it’s their only food!
Take care of yourself
Tandem breastfeeding is draining, both emotionally and physically! Your hormones are also going crazy and it takes some time before your hormones balance again. Tandem nursing won’t be the peaceful experience you might imagine.
You’ll need to tend to yourself well, prioritising your sleep, nutrition and hydration. Take breaks from your kids, and lean on your partner if you need support.
Remember to check with your doctor for final advice. Let them know your intention of breastfeeding while pregnant and tandem breastfeeding so they can give good advice and information to you.