What is Tandem Nursing? Tandem Nursing Do's and Don'ts
Dr. Smitha Raghavan from Mediclinic Welcare Hospital shares her top tips for pregnant mothers interested in tandem nursing.
23 May 2022
What pregnant mums must know about tandem nursing their toddler.
Having been an obstetrician and gynaecologist for over a decade and a half, I have seen a variety of medical and social scenarios amongst my patients. Being able to hold their hand and walk them through the most exciting and sometimes toughest journey of their lives is very satisfying and fulfilling.
One such situation is a mom getting pregnant while still breast feeding her infant!
It’s not uncommon! It may be planned or a surprise, but it does happen.
Most women from what I observe experience mixed emotions- excitement in anticipation of the new addition to the family... and anxiety about various aspects of taking care of her toddler and the unborn baby at the same time.
One such anxiety is about breast feeding, including questions such as: Can I continue feeding? Will it affect my unborn baby? Will it affect my toddler? Will it affect me? How can I make it safe to all the three of us?
First and foremost, it is perfectly safe to breastfeed, if you intend to do so and if your toddler is willing.
Is tandem nursing safe for my unborn baby?
Most of the time, it is perfectly safe to continue feeding. It does release a hormone called oxytocin which can cause mild uterine contractions. However, tandem nursing does not cause loss of pregnancy.
Some of you who may have a high risk pregnancy should speak to your obstetrician. This includes women with twins pregnancy, previous miscarriage, preterm delivery, bleeding etc.
Is tandem nursing safe for my toddler?
Toddlers will need a lot of support to accept the new born in every which way, and so is the case with breast feeding.
Soon after you get pregnant, you may start noticing that your milk production is reducing. This is a natural change and is not a huge concern.
If your baby is of an age where they can be weaned, you may start using the opportunity to increase solid healthy foods as substitute. The baby may themselves start weaning away as the taste of milk starts changing (colostrum increases as pregnancy advances). There is no need to withhold colostrum from the child though, as it is beneficial and full of antibodies.
If your baby is not yet ready to be weaned, then you may need to supplement infant formula if the milk you produce is not sufficient. Either way, discussing this with your child’s paediatrician will help give you more information and reassurance.
The little one may have loose stools due to colostrum and this shouldn’t worry you. Ensure they drink lots of water.
Is tandem nursing safe for mothers?
It is natural for most mothers to make themselves last priority, but this shouldn’t be the case. You should be healthy, fit and happy to survive the joyous ordeal of taking care of your little ones!
You may experience increasingly sore nipples and breasts, both from pregnancy and feeding. You can use nipple shields, moisturisers, cold compress and supportive bras which will ease some of the symptoms.
Growing a bump will make it more and more uncomfortable to feed. You will eventually find what position best suits you and your little one - lying down/sitting or inclined.
Tandem feeding - Can I feed both my babies together?
Of course you can! It can be uncomfortable on your nipples and breasts, but as we spoke about above, you may try different positions and tricks to help reduce discomfort. You can feed both babies together, though it's important to find the right comfortable position for all the three of you.
What should my diet be while tandem feeding?
Now coming to your diet!
You are basically taking care of three people - yourself, your toddler, and your unborn. Naturally, your calorie intake needs to go up to provide for all of you. But that doesn’t mean you use it as an excuse to run to Krispy Kremes.
Key diet tips:
- Increase your fluid intake
Ensure you continue to eat healthy fruits, veggies, lean meat, and nuts
- Increase calories by 300-400 kcals in the second/third trimester
- A nutritionist may be helpful if you are unsure what (not) to eat
Lastly, there is no right or wrong. You can be tired with all the changes a new pregnancy brings and anxious about whether you are doing the right thing. There is absolutely no need to tear yourself apart. Consult your doctor, they are there for you.
Authored by Dr. Smitha Raghavan, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Consultant at Mediclinic Welcare Hospital.