Tandem Breastfeeding – the Practical Experience

There have been a lot of expressed concerns regarding the fact that I was still nursing Gavin since I got pregnant with Gareth.  There were a lot of doubts about whether it was possible to nurse two siblings at the same time.  Although I had been able to put many of the concerns regarding tandem nursing to rest, there was one part of it that left doubts even in my mind.

It is easy enough to find the scientific evidence to support tandem nursing.  However, finding out how other mothers actually coped with tandem nursing – how easy or stressful it was – was another issue altogether.  I had no doubt in my mind that tandem nursing Gavin and Gareth (if Gavin still wanted to breastfeed after Gareth was born) was the right thing to do.  My only worry was whether I would be able to cope with the emotional demands of two children.

I knew that there were plenty of mothers of twins who have successfully breastfed both babies without having to resort to supplementing with formula. Nevertheless, the image I had in my mind was that of a stressed out mother trying to juggle two babies – one in each arm.  It looked difficult and exhausting.  Of course, the advantage of tandem nursing is the fact that one sibling is already a pro at it and does not require any assistance.

Last night, I had my first practical experience nursing Gavin and Gareth simultaneously.  I was nursing Gareth during a feed in between his UV treatment sessions for jaundice when Gavin came to visit.  Being mindful that I had to make sure Gareth got his fair share of colostrum, I was trying to avoid nursing Gavin until my full milk had come in.  Yet I could see that Gavin really wanted to nurse and I didn’t want to deny him after he had been through so many days without nursing.

Since Gareth had been suckling on one side for quite a while, I switched him over to the other breast and offered Gavin the breast that Gareth had been on.  With Gareth being so easy to breastfeed, it wasn’t hard to get into position.  I had Gareth nursing on the left breast in the football hold, while Gavin sat on my right and nursed on the right breast.  I could put an arm around each of them and cuddle them close to me.

Suffice to say my first simultaneous nursing experience was a beautiful one.  It felt great to be able to meet Gavin’s emotional needs while taking care of my newborn at the same time.  Far from being the stressful situation I had imagined, it was, on the contrary, very relaxing.  Let’s hope it continues in this fashion…

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

4 thoughts on “Tandem Breastfeeding – the Practical Experience

  1. This is so beautiful. Congratulations on your birth and your first tandem nursing experience. I intend to breastfeed my daughter until she self-weans. While I have always imagined that this would be sometime around 3, I have recently realized that allowing self-weaning may mean that she’ll go past that point. We aren’t considering any more children now, but I have often wondered what I would do if I ended up nursing two at the same time. This is enlightening, thank you so much for sharing.

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  2. It is really a great thought on this post.Im curious about something. I know its possible to nurse 2 children at once. Say your nursing a 20 month and give birth to a new born, do you still get the big overabundance of milk like when your milk “comes in” ?

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  3. Clarissa – Although the consideration to tandem nurse had always been more for Gavin’s sake, I had never imagined it could feel so good to have both my boys close to me sharing an experience like this.

    Since then there have been some rough patches, but I find we can smooth it out best when I nurse them both simultaneously. Gavin’s needs for attention have not manifested negatively towards his brother (as I have heard from other parents where their older child wants to hurt or get rid of the baby), but he has demonstrated a strong desire to be treated equally with his brother. Being able to tandem nurse allows me to do that.

    Mephala – Gavin has taken to stroking Gareth’s cheek when they nurse together. It is beautiful. I am looking forward to more. 🙂

    Dayspa – It’s only the start of week two, so I haven’t really had a large overabundance of milk. I have had leakage after a shower and felt the fullness of my breasts when the milk came in, however, having two to nurse helps to manage the engorgement. It is a very different experience to the first time I breastfed Gavin. I was leaking all the time and soaking through all my breast pads.

    As I’ve said, it is still early days so I’ll have to wait and see how it continues.

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