What does tandem breastfeeding mean? If the headline was a googly for you, let us explain. Tandem breastfeeding refers to the act of feeding two children of different age groups, who are not twins, simultaneously. It is a personal choice and lacks rigid norms or guidelines to follow. Mothers opt for tandem breastfeeding when they feel inclined to breastfeed both their older child and newborn.
Additionally, if a mother has a toddler dependent on breastfeeding and becomes pregnant, she may choose to breastfeed both children. Many mothers attempt to wean their first child when they become pregnant, as breast milk production typically decreases during the second trimester of pregnancy, leading some children to naturally stop breastfeeding. However, some mothers decide to continue breastfeeding both children, driven by their own personal preferences and circumstances. Ultimately, the choice to tandem breastfeed remains subjective and varies from one mother to another.
Challenges of tandem breastfeeding for a mother
Tandem breastfeeding presents various challenges for mothers, including excessive fatigue, frequent night awakenings, painful breasts and unsolicited comments from relatives. Moreover, the emotional journey of tandem breastfeeding can be overwhelming. Despite these obstacles, there are strategies that can help mothers overcome these difficulties.
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Tips for tandem breastfeeding
1. Self care
Self care is crucial. Mothers should not view tandem feeding as an obligatory task. Instead, they can choose to wean one child during their pregnancy and set boundaries for the older child’s breastfeeding schedule. For instance, allocating specific times for the elder toddler to nurse can create a sense of routine and ease the burden.
2. Physical activity
Engaging in mild physical activities to stay active and carving out an hour or two for ‘me time’ can be revitalizing and mentally rejuvenating.
3. Have a support system
Building a reliable support system is invaluable. Relying on a partner and other relatives to look after the children allows the mother to take breaks and engage in activities that bring her joy and relaxation.
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The mother must focus on consuming healthy and balanced meals to maintain her own health and energy levels. Ensure proper nutrition. New mothers should consume an additional 500 calories to support breastfeeding. Contrary to old practices and myths, there is no need to avoid any specific types of food during tandem breastfeeding.
5. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is crucial for maintaining healthy breastfeeding and an adequate milk supply.
By adopting these coping mechanisms, mothers can navigate the challenges of tandem breastfeeding more effectively.
Tandem breastfeeding and mental health
Ensuring a mother’s mental and emotional health is crucial during tandem breastfeeding.
Firstly, mothers should understand that raising children is not solely their responsibility. They should build a support system comprising family, friends, or a partner to share their feelings, mental state, and any physical challenges they may encounter. This support can provide the much-needed emotional and mental backup.
Secondly, seeking help from family members or partners beyond breastfeeding times is essential, allowing the mother to have some rest and relaxation, contributing to her overall well-being.
Additionally, mothers should make time for themselves, engaging in activities like going for walks, taking naps, or indulging in leisure time. Allocating moments of self-care helps to alleviate stress and maintain emotional balance.
Furthermore, if the mother decides to wean the elder child, it should be considered a personal choice that contributes to a smoother breastfeeding journey and a healthier mental state.
By prioritizing mental and emotional well-being, mothers can enhance their tandem breastfeeding experience and create a nurturing environment for both children.