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Breastfeeding While Pregnant: My Journey with Tandem and Triandem Nursing

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Looking back on my breastfeeding journey, there was so much I didn’t know in the early years. I remember when my third child was about 13 months old and I

Birth & Postpartum Doula, Fort Collins, CO
Birth & Postpartum Doula, Fort Collins , CO

found out I was pregnant. I went to my care provider and he told me that I needed to wean my child because I would take away nutrients from the currently growing in utero child. I was devastated. I didn’t want to wean him and he was not ready to wean. Sadly, to say the least, I did as my doctor told me to do. We weaned. I am thankful that he did get 13 months of breastfeeding.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I find out I am pregnant with my fourth child. We are still nursing, but there is no way I can wean her. She wasn’t ready, I wasn’t ready, especially after what happened with weaning my third child. Besides, she was a “high suck” child, meaning she just needed more comfort, security, and connection, than my other kids at that point. Then one day, as I was having a conversion with a friend from my parent’s group, she directed me to contact La Leche League (LLL) for more information. I wasn’t aware that breastfeeding through a pregnancy was possible.

The information and support I received from LLL was eye opening and so beneficial in my continued breastfeeding relationship with my child and her new sibling. I went on to tandem nurse my fourth and fifth child and eventually “triandem” nursed when number six came along.

Wait, what?

I’m sure you have questions, what is tandem or triandem nursing? Tandem nursing refers to the practice of breastfeeding two or more children of different ages at the same time. This involves breastfeeding an older child who is still nursing while also breastfeeding a newborn or younger sibling. This happens when an individual becomes pregnant while still breastfeeding the older child or when the parent decides to continue nursing both children after giving birth, as in my case with 2 and then 3 children. I found tandem nursing helped ease the transition and adjustment between siblings and when the new baby arrived. I witnessed a bond between my tandem/triandem nurslings that to this day (they are all adults), still holds strong!

So now you know that it is possible to continue breastfeeding your child while you are pregnant. Many individuals successfully breastfeed during pregnancy and go on to nurse both their older child and the new baby after giving birth. However, it's important to note that every woman's body is different, and individual circumstances may vary.

Here are a few things to consider and discuss with your healthcare provider:

1. Health considerations: Pregnancy can cause changes in your body, such as increased fatigue and changes in milk production. If you have any health conditions or concerns, it is important to consult your healthcare provider to ensure that breastfeeding during pregnancy is safe for you and your unborn baby.

2. Nutrition: During pregnancy and breastfeeding, your body has increased nutritional needs. It's crucial to maintain a well-balanced diet with enough calories, protein, and nutrients to support both yourself and your growing baby. Make sure that you are meeting your nutritional requirements and are staying adequately hydrated.

3. Milk supply and changes: Some individuals experience a decrease in milk supply during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. However, this is not the case for everyone. Your child may continue to breastfeed as long as they are willing and able, even if your milk supply decreases and they may be comfort nursing or benefiting from the emotional connection. The milk composition may also change, becoming more concentrated, but it still provides valuable nutrition for your child.

4. Discomfort: Breastfeeding during pregnancy can sometimes be uncomfortable due to breast tenderness and sensitivity, particularly during the early stages. If you experience discomfort, you may need to find comfortable positions or adjust your breastfeeding routine to alleviate any issues.

5. Weaning decisions: At some point during your pregnancy or after giving birth, you and your child may decide to wean. This can be a personal decision based on various factors, including the needs and desires of both you and your child. It's important to approach weaning gently and consider the emotional aspects involved.

Remember that it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that breastfeeding during pregnancy is suitable for your specific circumstances. They can provide personalized guidance based on your health history, current pregnancy, and individual needs.

One, Two, Three….Is this for me?

Breastfeeding while pregnant can be a unique experience, the decision to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy or tandem nurse is a personal decision. Not all individuals choose to breastfeed two or more children simultaneously. It is a choice that depends on the parent’s desires, the needs and willingness of the children, and individual circumstances. If you plan to do so, here are some key points to consider:

1. Benefits for both children: Tandem nursing allows the older child to continue receiving the benefits of breast milk, such as nutrition, immune support, and emotional bonding, while also accommodating the needs of the newborn. It can help ease the transition for the older child and provide comfort and reassurance during the adjustment period.

2. Milk production and supply: Breast milk supply is based on the principle of supply and demand. When a parent breastfeeds two children, your body adjusts to meet the increased demand for milk. The body will produce enough milk to satisfy the needs of both children, although the milk composition may change as the newborn's needs differ from the older child's.

3. Emotional bonding: Tandem nursing can foster a sense of closeness and connection between the parent and both children. It can also help the older child feel included and secure during the arrival of a new sibling. Continuing to breastfeed while pregnant can help maintain that connection and provide reassurance during the transition to having a new baby in the family.

4. Challenges and considerations: Tandem nursing may present certain challenges. It can be physically demanding, as breastfeeding two children may require additional time, energy, and resources. It is important for the parent to prioritize self-care and ensure that you are getting adequate rest, nutrition, and support. Some parent's may experience nipple soreness or sensitivity, and finding comfortable positions for breastfeeding both children simultaneously may require some experimentation. Reach out for support from your partner, family, or friends to help you with daily tasks and childcare responsibilities.

If you are considering tandem nursing, it can be helpful to seek support from a lactation consultant, La Leche League, or other breastfeeding support groups to gather information and connect with other parents who have experienced tandem nursing.

Every parent’s experience with breastfeeding while pregnant is unique. It's important to listen to your body, communicate openly with your child, and seek guidance when necessary. You can do this, if you choose!

Have you nursed through a pregnancy? Please share comments below!

Fort Collins, CO Doula Birth Support
Lactation support, Fort Collins, CO Doula


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