Tandem breastfeeding can be done. (Photo: Corbis Images)
Breastfeeding two babies at the same time — be it twins or a newborn and a toddler — is a daunting task. I tandem breastfed my twin girls for more than four months, and while it wasn’t easy, with planning and perseverance, it can be done.
Tandem nursing saves you time and can even be a bonding experience for your children, bringing them closer together, according to La Leche League International, and helping to reduce feelings of jealously with two kids vying for your attention.
Even if you don’t plan on tandem nursing, you may find yourself with a recently-weaned toddler who wants to start nursing again once his new sibling arrives. “Very often toddlers want to go back to the breast when they see the new baby there,” Marcy Mallouf, registered nurse and international board certified lactation consultant in the department of human lactation at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, tells Yahoo Parenting.
The key to tandem nursing is preparation. Before you start, keep your supplies within reach: a back support pillow, a breastfeeding pillow and/or a Boppy pillow, baby blankets, and burp cloths. You’ll also need plenty of room so get comfy on the couch, bed, or floor. And it helps to have a partner or family member assist you until you get the hang of it.
“Use pillows to support both babies at the same time,” says Mallouf. “If you’re using stacks of blankets instead, they need to be fairly firm.“ You can also opt for a specially-designed breastfeeding pillow for two, such as My Brest Friend Twins Plus Deluxe, which has a wider surface area than Boppy pillows.
Slip a small pillow behind your back for support and place each baby on a Boppy pillow on either side of you. If you’re using a twin nursing pillow, you may need to place a bed pillow underneath it, making sure the twin pillow tips up slightly toward you. “This will give you more comfort when you lean back and bring your babies to your breast for feeding,” explains Mallouf.
You can also roll up a baby blanket and place one under each arm on top of the pillows to provide support and prevent fatigue.
For a newborn and a toddler:
Position your infant first, and then your more experienced toddler. “Some moms will let their toddlers straddle one leg and do a football hold with the baby,” says Mallouf.
Adds Diana West, lactation consultant and co-author of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, “It’s important to ensure that the new baby gets first dibs on the milk, but the older child can be really helpful in removing milk on days three and four [postpartum] to prevent or reduce engorgement,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “Nursing at the same time as the younger baby can also help trigger a milk ejection that makes the milk flow faster for the younger baby.”
Don’t be discouraged or put pressure on yourself if tandem nursing isn’t working out as well as you’d hoped. “Nursing both babies at the same time isn’t really necessary if it’s tough to do,” says West. “It gets a lot easier as the babies grow bigger and become more expert at nursing. But the most important goal in the first few weeks is ensuring that each baby gets the time and attention needed to latch deeply and transfer milk well.”
To soothe sore nipples, La Leche League International recommends using warm, damp compresses. Some women even apply their own expressed breast milk to soothe the area.