Breastfeeding Positions For Tandem Nursing

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What is tandem nursing?

Breastfeeding siblings simultaneously, who are not twins, is called tandem nursing.1 According to the WHO, it is important to breastfeed a child until 2 years old for immunity and good health. But it is always a mother's decision to wean a toddler or continue to breastfeed them after giving birth to another child.

In postpartum days, it might become a little uncomfortable for a mother to feed both children. Therefore, it will take time for the mother, toddler and newborn to adjust until comfortable. Mothers might choose to nurse both children simultaneously or nurse each child at intervals throughout the day.2 This article focuses on tandem breastfeeding positions and other important information related to tandem nursing. 

Benefits of tandem nursing

  • Increased milk supply for newborn
  • Less chances of breast engorgement
  • Ensures adequate nutrition for both children
  • It helps form a bond between newborns and toddlers1

Basic principles of breastfeeding positions

Importance of proper latch

A good latch makes breastfeeding comfortable and also prevents cracked and sore nipples.3

Signs of a good latch

  • The chin of the baby touches the breast
  • Rounded cheeks
  • The circular movement of the jaw
  • No discomfort while breastfeeding
  • Hear swallowing and not clicking or smacking noises 

Comfort for mother and babies

It is important to find a comfortable nursing position for the mother and her children, to ensure a pleasant and successful breastfeeding journey. Many options are available, but often the mom and her baby may find a unique position that works well for them. Do not feel distressed if the traditional positions do not work for you. Here are a few examples that you can try out when tandem feeding your baby and toddler. 

Double football hold

Babies will lie along the mother's side under her arms, with her hand supporting the back of the babies’ necks. The bottom of the babies must be against whatever the mother is sitting in with their legs bent at the hip so that they cannot push or kick against it.

This breastfeeding position is helpful for mothers recovering from c-sections as there is no pressure on the abdominal area. Nursing mothers with large breast sizes. May also find this position more comfortable than others.3

Criss cross hold

This position is more beneficial when the newborn has gained sufficient weight. In this position, babies are in an ‘X’ position against the mother's body, with one in front of the other. This is done best while sitting on a couch or bed.4

Combination of cradle and football

According to the name, in this position, one baby is held in the cradle position and the other is held in a football position.

Laid-back position 

In this position, the mother's hands are free, and she is in a relaxed position while the babies lie facing their mother in a comfortable position diagonally across her torso for feeding.6

Double cradle hold

Each baby lies across the mother's front at breast level, with their tummies towards her chest. Each baby's head will be resting on the crook of her elbows, on the same side she is nursing. The babies should be allowed to latch and simply overlap their bodies. This position allows them to interact and bond with each other.3

It is important to find the most comfortable position while tandem breastfeeding, or you will have to play around with it to make it possible easily without much hustle.

Tips and management of tandem nursing

  1. While tandem breastfeeding, you could feed both children at the same time, or one could feed children one after another1
  2. Once the milk supply is increased, your toddler may want to be fed all the time, but remember to prioritise your newborn, because a toddler can get a variety of nutrition from other food sources as well7
  3. Try the tandem feeding positions for comfortable feeding; try to sit up for feeding, and use cushions to support you back
  4. In tandem feeding, the mother makes more milk compared to others because she is feeding two. One can seek help from a lactation consultant to assist with challenges associated with it1

How to take care of yourself? 

Taking on the challenge of tandem breastfeeding can be very demanding, but also very fulfilling. Tandem breastfeeding mothers feel hungrier as she is feeding two children, but bodies can adjust their metabolism. A healthy balanced diet, including proper hydration, and sufficient sleep is essential to ensure that your energy levels remain sound and so that you avoid exhaustion and stress.

Drawbacks of tandem breastfeeding

  • Maternal or infant illness 
  • Insufficient milk supply
  • Sore nipples
  • Mental stress for the mother
  • The feeling of detachment from a spouse due to lack of time4

FAQs

What is tandem breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding toddlers and newborns simultaneously.

Can you tandem feed while pregnant?

Yes one can breastfeed a toddler while pregnant and continue to tandem feed once a new baby arrives.

Does feeding two children simultaneously make an infant or a toddler weak?

No, according to research, breastfeeding always helps to improve the immunity and supports mental development in children.

Is tandem breastfeeding safe for infants?

Yes, it is. Feeding a toddler and newborn simultaneously reduces the chances of breast engorgement, increases milk supply and fosters a bond between two children. 

Summary

Once the mother is ready to decide on tandem breastfeeding, it can be challenging and overwhelming at the same time. A mother’s breast milk is the natural weapon against many illnesses and diseases, therefore it is a good decision to continue tandem breastfeeding. There are several breastfeeding positions that can be used to feed an infant and a toddler simultaneously.

Choose the most comfortable position and change or mix the positions according to your need. The new relationship between, mother, toddler and baby can be challenging, but patience and perseverance can lead to a very rewarding result for all. Always remember as long as your babies are safe and fed (and you feel good), that’s all that matters!

References

  1. Australian Breastfeeding Association. Tandem feeding. [Internet]. [updated 2023 Feb; cited 2024 Jan 14]. Available from: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/resources/tandem-feeding
  2. Verywell Health. Sherry Christiansen.What is Tandem Breastefeeding? [Internet]. updated 2024 Feb 13; cited 2024 Jan 15]. Available from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/tandem-definition-safety-during-pregnancy-expert-advice-and-5190093
  3. American Pregnancy Association. Breastfeeding Latch. [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 Jan 15] Available from: https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-latch/
  4. Twiniversity. The best positions for breastfeeding twins. [Internet]. [updated 2021 Sept 21; cited 2024 Jan 15]. Available from: https://www.twiniversity.com/the-best-positions-for-breastfeeding-twins/
  5. Flidel‐Rimon O, Shinwell ES. Breast feeding twins and high multiples. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed [Internet]. 2006 [cited 2024 Jan 15];91(5):F377–80. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672857/
  6. Le Leche League GB. Twins and More. [Internet]. [updated 2022 June; cited 2024 Jan 15]. Available from: https://laleche.org.uk/twins/
  7. La Leche League International. Breastfeeding during pregnancy and tandem nursing. [Internet]. [updated 2022 June; cited 2024 Jan 15]. Available from: https://llli.org/breastfeeding-info/breastfeeding-pregnancy-tandem-nursing/

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Dr. Kirti Vishwajeet Pardeshi

Bachelor's degree, BDS, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences

Dr. Kirti Pardeshi, a highly skilled dental surgeon with six years of extensive clinical expertise. Apart from her impactful clinical background, she has dedicated several years to serving as a biology faculty member. Fueled by a passion for knowledge, patient care and research, Dr. Pardeshi earned certification in clinical research, delving into the systematic investigation that underpins medical advancements.

Presently, she is deeply committed to the pursuit of a postgraduate degree in medical writing, pushing the boundaries of her expertise.

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