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Ask an Expert: Tandem Nursing

By Anne Smith, IBCLC

Fan Question:

“I nursed all my babies. My oldest was 8 months old When I became pregnant with my daughter so I stopped nursing him. It never occurred to me to continue or to try and tandem nurse them. I know with the first baby, your produce colostrum.  Now, if you are already nursing when baby number two arrives, will you produce colostrum again or will the new baby miss out? I see people frowning upon mom’s that choose to tandem nurse but the way I see it, as long as new baby gets it’s “liquid gold” and baby one will get a double dose of colostrum, Why would there ever be an issue? If I could go back in time, I would change the decision I made that day and kept nursing. (You may decide to leave out the section in italics)

Answer: During the second trimester, your breasts will begin to produce colostrum.. If  you are breastfeeding during your  pregnancy, your  breasts will produce a mixture of mature milk and colostrum (extra antibodies for your toddler!)

Both the quantity and the taste of the milk change dramatically during this time, and  some  babies will wean themselves when the milk changes. Due to hormonal changes during pregnancy your breasts will produce  more colostrum when you  give birth, regardless of  whether you are already nursing your older baby.

When the mother’s milk comes in a few days after birth, it is called “transitional milk.” This mixture of colostrum and mature milk is produced from 4-10 days after birth. 

Transitional milk may look yellowish due to the colostrum content. After 10-14 days, mature milk is produced. It still contains lots of valuable antibodies and immune factors, but no more colostrum, so it isn’t an issue after that time.

It’s a good idea to nurse the newborn first so that he’ll get most of the colostrum. but you don’t need to worry about limiting your older baby’s time at the breast.
Anne Smith, IBCLCAnne has been helping moms reach their breastfeeding goals for over 35 years, as a La Leche League and an IBCLC in private practice since 1990. Breastfeeding six children gives her a unique combination of first hand experience as well as professional expertise. In 1999, she started her website,www.breastfeedingbasics.com, with lots of information on breastfeeding and parenting, and a wonderful group of bloggers, including Abby from The Badass Breastfeeder, Rachelle from Unlatched, and Marie from Anarchy in the Sandbox.

Join the more than six millions of moms who come to Breastfeeding Basics each year for information and support, and visit Anne on Facebook.