By Jai Stringer, Co-Founder of the Sacred Motherhood Blueprint.
Tandem Nursing is generally defined as nursing two children simultaneously. This can be configured in several different ways. Nursing two children of different ages at the same time, at different times or nursing twins. The phrase Tandem Nursing is also sometimes stretched to encompass nursing while pregnant.
The choice to Tandem Nurse is very personal and unique to each mother & baby, so I encourage you to make the choice that feels right for you, your children and family. This blog is based on my personal experience.
Breast milk is extremely convenient, portable, produced on demand, doesn't require refrigeration and is created by my body to meet my toddler & newborn’s unique needs. What’s not to love about all this?
Why didn’t I wean my first when I discovered I was pregnant again? Honestly going into it I wasn’t sure what to do. The surge of new hormones, hazy exhaustion and somewhat shocking reality of my freshly pregnant self kept me doing what I knew best: nursing my sweet one year old. I was feeling very sensitive and did NOT have the energy to interrupt the rhythm we had already grown to love and count on. Instead I made an effort, (despite persistent morning sickness), to eat more, nap while my daughter napped and get to bed extra early. It was a sweet lazy time in our relationship as my belly began to grow with my toddler curled around her developing new sibling while blissfully nursing away. After the birth of my second daughter I found I that my professional milk-guzzling toddler soothed and relieved my engorged breasts and eased the pressure and intensity of my milk flow, so that their powerful spray didn’t overwhelm my new baby.
These are some other benefits of Tandem Nursing I noticed along the way…
No Need to Rock the Boat. By nursing my toddler while pregnant and continuing to do so once her sister was born we were able to keep the established routine going strong. Nurse upon waking, mid-morning session, nurse to sleep at nap time and once again before bed.
Ease Possible Feelings of Displacement. Although it was challenging at first to figure out how to place both my daughters on my lap and in position for nursing we did eventually become pros at it. My toddler became fond of helping to position her sister just right. Extended nursing was comforting and familiar, something my toddler could count on while the world, as she knew it changed with the addition of her sister. It also provided an opportunity for me to take the time to nurture my toddler in a potent focused way. I felt this kept our bond strong. I feel that for us, extended nursing helped to diffuse any potential feelings of abandonment or replacement.
Nurture a Close Bond Between Siblings. Tandem Nursing cultivated closeness in my daughters' relationship. I feel my toddler was able to better relate to her new baby sister and to be in close proximity to her in a safe and nurturing way. They developed a sweet kinship immediately. I did not notice sibling rivalry in those early years.
Enhanced Immunity. Additionally I felt it was beneficial for my toddler’s immune system to receive the immunity boosting colostrum for a second time. This helped her to bring home less colds and flus thus protecting her newborn sister and I from getting sick.
I am the mother of three children and proudly breastfed them all whenever, wherever: I choose not to cover their heads with awkward blankets, sit in bathroom stalls or hide in a corner. I do admit to shying away from tandem nursing in public mainly because I just didn’t have the energy or desire to deal with the person who wanted to pick my brain (consequently interrupting my daughters) about why I was doing what I was doing.
I believe the choice to breastfeed is a personal and intimate one. For me, this choice was an obvious one. I was naturally drawn to the opportunity to strengthen the beautiful bond I had with my infants through skin to skin touch and eye contact, as well as to provide sustenance for them. I hoped that by taking that precious time to focus on nurturing my children that they continue to thrive feeling supported and fulfilled by the love and devotion that I extended toward them in those early years. My daughters are now ages 14 and 13, beautiful and thriving, and their brother is 8.
I’m sure there are many more pros and some will probably argue the cons, but what I’ve listed are based on observations from my own personal experience. Perhaps they will resonate with you too or maybe you will decide this is not for you. Either way I respect your choice. I also acknowledge that some women are unable to produce breast milk and some women may experience their milk drying up once they become pregnant. If this is your experience I recommend you speak to a lactation specialist or to your doctor or midwife. There are many safe and natural remedies that could help if you do wish to continue your breastfeeding journey.
Many blessings to you and your family. If you feel inspired, please share your experience in the comments section below.
Jai Stringer is the co-founder, co-facilitator and co-author of the Sacred Motherhood Blueprint’s course offering. She has been a mother for 15 years and is is devoted to raising her family in a holistic and conscious way. Inter-weaving her studies in Ayurveda, Yoga, Herbalism, Aromatherapy and bio-intensive farming into self care and the care of her family and community. She formulates organic small batch body care products from plants she cultivates at her farm on Maui. Check out her products at mauiblessedorganics.com.