I am currently nursing my 15 month old and am due to have a baby in 3 months. Since my older kids were further spaced, tandem nursing wasn't even an issue. However, it's really important to me to allow my kids to each have 2 years of nursing (if they want it, and so far they have) and with the new baby coming when big sis is only 18 months, I have questions. I've asked my doctors and their advice was to start weaning now because it's just too much trouble and my body couldn't possibly do it. Well, I politely disagree! But I still have questions...Should I have concerns with the baby getting enough milk? Is there any concern with the baby skipping past the colostrum stage and starting off on milk right away? Would that mean he misses out on something nutritionally? Curious to see how mornings will go at our house, especially since that is the biggest nursing time for my toddler right now. Also, what anout engorgement? Does that still happen with tandem nursing? How about all the leaking too?
Any input you can share is much appreciated (and certainly more informed than my well meaning doctors!).
I only have two children, so have only tandem nursed once. I can tell you my experiences and about what I have read, but much like breastfeeding in general is different for each mother-baby pair, tandem nursing is, too!
First, you definately don't need to worry about colustrum being used up. Just like women who leak during pregnancy don't need to worry about not having enough! Your body produces colustrum until it recieves the biochemical signal (from a variety of sources, mostly from the placenta detaching from what I understand) to start producing mature milk. That mature milk takes different amounts of time for different women to come in, but your baby will definately have colustrum.
Since women can (and do) nurse multiples, you also don't need to be worried about baby not getting enough milk. In fact, for most tandeming moms they are worried *more* about their older child's sudden weight gain! With DD (2.5 when DS was born) she gained maybe 2 pounds during my pregnancy and then gained 5 pounds in the few months after DS was born. There was just suddently so much good, fatty milk, lol. Because they will both be telling your body to produce milk for them, there should be enough for both (especially if you've never had supply issues). From what I have read, the milk will be aimed at your infant (fat/sugar/protein ratios) but it is still wonderful for your toddler!
Lack of engorgement is also a real "plus" for many tandem nursing mothers. Because your toddler is probably more efficient than a newborn, they both bring your milk in faster *and* can empty your breasts better. You do need to watch out for your own health, though--- producing milk for two can take a lot of energy and calories!
Night nursing was hard for me, too. When DS was a bit older, I started allowing DD one really, really long nursing session in the evenings. I don't mean only, I mean that that one was not up for DS interrupting, kwim. If there was a real emergency we could cut it short, but otherwise she knew that at the end of the day she could nurse and nurse and nurse if that was what she needed. She still nursed a lot during the day (and night), but it was easier for both of us to cut those sessions short, or postpone them because she knew that she WOULD get to nurse to her hearts content eventually. For me, nursing her in the morning was generally just easier than any other option. It meant that I didn't need to jump right out of bed and get her something to eat while DS was wanting to snuggle.
my older ds was 17mo when his brother was born. there didn't seem to be any problems with the baby getting enough colostrum. (it did make ds1's poopy diapers interesting though). as for it being too much for your body to handle, i haven't found that to be the case. in fact, i think it's made having 2 little ones so close in age easier. we haven't had any of the jealousy issues that i worried we might. my milk came in late on day 2, the same as with ds1 and his sister had been weaned for a year at that point, so i don't think tandeming effected it at all. i generally don't have leaking, so that remained the same. and i still got pretty engorged that first week or so, but it was easier to deal with with 2 nurslings, especially since ds1 was so efficient. for us, the boys nursing together is a sweet and fairly relaxing time. they are now 4mo and 21mo. i position the baby with the boppy and get him latched first, and then ds1 snuggles in and latches. it helps that he's old enough to understand if i need him to change his position or something. they hold hands, stare at each other, ds1 will rub the baby's leg, etc while they nurse. he also has a habit of reaching over and kneading the breast his brother is nursing for him lol. "adventures in tandem nursing" has some great info. overall, i haven't found tandem nursing to be that much more time consuming than just nursing one babe. the boys nurse on their own as well as together.
I am tandem nursing my almost 4 and almost 10 month old. My midwife was totally fine with it... however one of my midwives gave me some advice about letting baby go first, or designating one breast for each child. For the first two days I did try to let DD2 nurse on both sides first, but I didn't worry if that didn't happen. After that I just let them nurse however it happened. DD2 has gained exactly like DD1. Sometimes I do find it overwhelming having the two of them wanting to nurse at night, or when they are both nursing at the same time and being wiggly I get claustrophobic.
I was much less engorged this time. However when both kiddo's were sick and not nursing I got SO engorged.. I guess because I am making more milk. When I did get engorged and baby couldn't relieve I just would call DD1. It was awesome!
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You will have colostrum, the body "starts over" w/new baby. In the first couple of days I let my newborn nurse first, then when milk comes in you just find a rythm and flow that works best for you depending on how your kiddos like to nurse. (For example, ds1 was a two side nurser at every fdg, ds2 only a 1 side nurser but nursed more often, and ds3 was mostly one side but sometimes two).
No engorgement, I got to sit down and keep them both quiet for a few minutes, less jealousy towards new baby, easy way to focus on older child when I was so wrapped up in new baby are all pluses of tandem nursing.
Hardest part was night time and getting them both to sleep w/nursing, but I got good at it and after a couple of months it just got easy.
I am on my 2nd round of tandem nursing at the moment, ds2 (5 1/2) and ds3 (2 1/2) still love to nurse. Sometimes I tell them that the "mimis" need a break but what I mean is that mommy needs a break. :)
tandem nursing brings back so many great memories! My boys were 18 months apart too. I just wanted to wish you all the best. You got some great advice. My boys are 7 & 9 now. It goes so fast :)
Living happily on a little island in the sun
I have the exact same spread- my daughter was 20 months when her sister was born. She had mostly weaned the last month of pregnancy, but as soon as she saw the milk was back, she nuzzled up and eagerly asked to share. I was grateful for the help. For a while I would nurse the baby first, and when she was satisfied, I'd share with the older girl. But then as time went on, they loved to snuggle up together (my baby girl grew so fast, I knew she wasn't suffering through sharing), and they would pet each others heads and giggle together while nursing. There was no jealousy, frustration or anger, my 20 month old was so glad to have the breasts back that she eagerly waited her turn and did an amazing job keeping me from engorgement.
I do warn that I had to eat a lot- 3,500 calories a day or so, just to maintain weight. (after my baby weight dropped off, which was pretty quickly). I had enough of a supply that I also pumped for a friend who had a preemie. Somehow my body stepped up and made sure that we had more than enough for everyone who needed some. I actually got pregnant again right around the time I weaned my older daughter. I never thought I'd wean a child, but my body was telling me to take a break. I don't know if it was ovulation or pregnancy, but I was pregnant that next cycle. So, beware, that is possible too... I'm due in 5 weeks with baby number 4, and intend to tandem nurse. If you have any questions or want to touch base, please feel free!
Eating well and nutritionally dense foods is very important to keep your milk supply up, energy up, and not drain your body or suffer from supply problems. Smoothies, juicing, and loads of delicious homemade foods make everything much easier. And eat as much as you need! I found myself craving fish (for the first time in my life), and loads of coconut milk or coconut anything. These have loads of great fats that will directly benefit your little nursers too. I did avoid extra carbs most of the time, and tried to eat more veggies and fats and proteins. I didn't eat carb light, but had to spend more energy figuring out what I could eat that would build my body and my two little ones, not just fill my tummy. though i did that too on occasion!
congrats and blessings!