August 10, 2016
Tandem Nursing means nursing two babies at once. This can be twins or it can be siblings born at different times i.e. an toddler and an newborn.
Many people believe that you cannot get pregnant while nursing or that if you are nursing when you are pregnant you need to wean.
You can get pregnant while nursing.
Breastfeeding can be birth control under specific conditions. There is the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).
LAM works like this:
- No return of menses since birth
- breastfeeding on demand, night, and day
- baby does not take any food or other liquids regularly
- baby’s sucking needs met primarily at the breast (no pacifier or bottles) baby is less than 6 months old.
- baby does not go longer than four hours during the day and longer than six hours during the night between nursing
With LAM there is about a 1-2% chance of getting pregnant – similar to taking birth control pills.
Many people get pregnant while nursing. Often moms are advised to wean their older baby if they become pregnant. There is no need to wean unless you are at risk for premature labor and you are advised by your health care provider to refrain from intercourse.
What can you expect while nursing while pregnant?
About halfway through pregnancy your milk changes from mature milk to colostrum. Colostrum is thicker and does not flow as easily as mature milk. Some toddlers get frustrated and wean. Others hold on for dear life!
One telltale sign of pregnancy can be sore nipples. Some moms find nursing painful or they become averse to nursing and they choose to wean their older baby.
Others will put limitations on nursing – one mom used counting as her strategy – “you can nurse for ten seconds – 10, 9, 8 . . .“ Another mom had a nursing chair where they could only nurse sitting in the chair in a quiet room.
Some advantages of tandem nursing can be:
- nursing toddler can help relieve engorgement
- older baby not feeling left out
- mom doesn’t feel she is abandoning the older child
- she still has her magic toddler wand
- sibling bonding
- stronger immune system of the toddler
- mom may feel touched out
- judgement from family, friends and health care team
When nursing twins it can be a good idea to alternate breasts for the twins. This can be every feeding or everyday – Twin A gets the left breast while Twin B gets the right breast for one feeding and then alternate the next feeding or on Monday Twin A gets left breast and Twin B gets right breast and on Tuesday Twin A gets right breast and Twin B gets left breast and so on. Many moms of twins will choose to nurse one at a time once they get older to have one on one time. In the early days it can be a time saver to nurse both at once.
How does one manage tandem nursing babies of different ages?