What Should I Expect While Tandem Nursing?

Kathleen Tackett's picture


Dear Lactation Consultant,
I just found out I am pregnant with my second child. I have a 10-month-old son who is happily breastfeeding and I don't want to have to stop. What kind of issues should I be concerned about for breastfeeding while pregnant and then breastfeeding a toddler and a newborn?


I have worked with many women who have breastfed during pregnancy and tandem nursed (breastfeeding children who are not twins). One common issue is discomfort during breastfeeding. About half of women who breastfeed during pregnancy experience sore nipples due to hormonal changes. This passes as soon as the baby is born.

Another common concern is whether a mother can short-change the unborn baby nutritionally by nursing the older baby during pregnancy. There is no evidence that this can occur. In well-nourished mothers, no link has been found between nursing during pregnancy and the new baby's birth weight.

Once the new baby is born, many mothers are concerned about how to make sure the newborn gets the milk he needs when the older sibling is also nursing. An easy way to handle this is to plan to nurse the newborn first or to restrict the older baby to one breast at a feeding, alternating breasts at each feeding to keep milk supply even. Because milk is produced according to supply and demand, there should be plenty of milk for both.

Some mothers report an unexpected advantage to tandem nursing: the older baby often helps prevent or relieve engorgement more quickly during the first week of nursing.

-- Nancy, IBCLC