Many women will, as some point or another, experience supply issues when breastfeeding. Whether you did or not in your last pregnancy, you may well be asking yourself how you will have enough milk for two children – especially where one child will likely be consuming a lot more than the other. There have been some research studies completed that showed that infants within tandem breastfeeding relationships showed lower weight gain than their counterparts who are not sharing the milk supply with a sibling (Marquis, Penny, Diaz, & Marin, 2002).
The most important thing to note is that the studies that presented these findings were mostly conducted in developing countries. These studies have been countered by another which highlights this point, and contends that in a developed country there does not appear to be any significant difference in the nutritional intakes or weight gain of babies within and without tandem breastfeeding relationships (Cetin et al., 2014).
You are already a mother so you know by now that when it comes to reasoning with children or presenting issues, it’s all in the delivery! If you do decide to wean, don’t make your new baby the focus – or at least don’t explain it this way to your toddler.
If your plan is tandem feeding, you may well find that breastfeeding both your children has the opposite effect to what you expect. Rather than creating jealously, sharing a special breastfeeding relationship with a new sibling can be a wonderful experience for a child. In fact it may well lessen the feelings of jealousy older children can experience when a new baby arrives.
The simple answer to that question is, however works best for you! If your babies are close in age you may find that you feed them both together often, one at each breast. Even if your older child is a toddler they may be quite keen to feed every chance they get when all that yummy milk comes in. On the other hand your older child may be in an established pattern of feeding only morning and night and that might continue.
Only you can decide what you feel works best. It is okay to set limits and boundaries around breastfeeding your toddler. Do this gently and as a negotiation rather than a demand, in order to avoid hurt feelings and minimise potential jealousy. A positive side effect for you of feeding your children together is the opportunity for a rest – with both your children happily occupied having a lovely feed, you rest and so do they!
You may prefer to sit up with each of your children in a ‘football hold’. You may find having both children facing you with your younger child gaining a little support from your older one works best. Lying down may also work better for you, particularly if your supply is plentiful and the flow just a little too much for your younger baby to cope with. Your children may well weigh in on this, showing a feeding position preference.
There are many positions that may work. The important thing to remember is that you are well supported and so are they. If you are experiencing discomfort, especially back or shoulder pain, that’s a signal to rethink your position. Similarly if you experience any nipple pain or damage have a good look at the latch of both children, and seek help from a midwife or lactation consultant if necessary, to ensure that you feeding position isn’t a contributing factor.
The majority of women who pursue tandem breastfeeding consider that despite any discomfort or practical considerations that must be overcome, tandem breastfeeding is indeed worth the effort. A beautiful breastfeeding relationship can be deepened even further when shared with a second child. One such mother writes, “There are few things more satisfying than watching your children holding hands while breastfeeding together.” (Australian Breastfeeding Association, 2011).
Written 07 August 2014 for www.pregnancy.com.au
Australian Breastfeeding Association. (2011). Breastfeeding through pregnancy and beyond. Retrieved from https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bf-info/breastfeeding-through-pregnancy-and-beyond
Cetin, I., Assandro, P., Massari, M., Sagone, A., Gennaretti, R., Donzelli, G., … Davanzo, R. (2014). Breastfeeding during pregnancy: position paper of the Italian Society of Perinatal Medicine and the Task Force on Breastfeeding, Ministry of Health, Italy. Journal of Human Lactation : Official Journal of International Lactation Consultant Association, 30(1), 20–7. doi:10.1177/0890334413514294
Ishii, H. (2009). Does breastfeeding induce spontaneous abortion? The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research, 35(5), 864–8. doi:10.1111/j.1447-0756.2009.01072.x
Marquis, G. S., Penny, M. E., Diaz, J. M., & Marin, R. M. (2002). Postpartum Consequences of an Overlap of Breastfeeding and Pregnancy: Reduced Breast Milk Intake and Growth During Early Infancy. PEDIATRICS, 109(4), e56–e56. doi:10.1542/peds.109.4.e56
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Moscone, S. R., & Moore, M. J. (1993). Breastfeeding during Pregnancy. Journal of Human Lactation, 9(2), 83–88. doi:10.1177/089033449300900219