Like everything else when a new baby first arrives, tandem nursing tends to be intense and unpredictable. Chances are it will be a godsend in many ways: helping with engorgement, helping meet the older child’s needs and the baby’s needs simultaneously, keeping the older child’s immunity up (so less illness, and shorter illnesses), providing incomparable nutrition for the older child, and providing a quick fix for temper tantrums. Moms who can comfortably nurse both children lying down may actually get to nap!
Tandem nursing can also be stressful at times. You may need to nurse an over-tired toddler to sleep but the baby doesn’t want you to lie down. You may find that nursing your older child causes an intense agitation (perhaps especially when the baby is also nursing). Some moms are disappointed to find that their breastfeeding relationship with their older child can feel negative for a while. Above all remember that your relationship with your older child can survive the bumps and surprises involved with adding a new baby to the mix. Many tandem nursing mothers find that the early weeks are the hardest and that they enjoy it much more after everyone is a little more settled.
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For me, it has been worth it. I have no regrets about continuing to nurse my daughter through my pregnancy and after, and feel like we would have had more difficulties had I tried to wean her before she was ready. I had no problems nursing through my pregnancy, aside from the usual things like sore nipples, which were annoying but manageable.
Do keep in mind that every mom will have a different experience and different reactions to the hormones of pregnancy; some moms do find that nursing during pregnancy is intolerable – follow your own body’s lead.
My daughter weaned down to 1-3 nursings a day (for comfort and going to sleep/waking up) during my pregnancy. Being able to lie down and nurse your toddler when you’re pregnant can be a real help – particularly during the 1st & 3rd trimesters when you tend to be really tired.
Tandem nursing has been challenging at times (particularly the first few weeks), but I feel that it’s been worth it so far. I will always remember how my daughter gave a big sigh of relief when I asked her if she wanted to nurse a few hours after her brother was born, even though we’d been talking about them both nursing for months. So far we haven’t seen a whole lot of sibling rivalry, and big sister is enjoying and adapting well to her little brother (now 5 months old – time flies!).
For many more personal experiences of mothers who have nursed through pregnancy and tandem nursed, see:
Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower