I would like to share a new article on tandem breastfeeding from MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing. It's vital to recognize that tandem breastfeeding, or simultaneously breastfeeding an older baby through a pregnancy and then breastfeeding both the newborn and the first child, is considered a normal part of the reproductive journey throughout the world.
However, in the United States where this series of case studies is based, tandem nursing is a rarity and not commonly talked about outside of a supportive breastfeeding environment.
The authors appear to question the practice due to insufficient research-based information. However, as the article progresses, they present various effects on fertility, pregnancy, and infant nutrition, none of which proves harmful to mother or breastfeeding infants/toddlers. Tandem breastfeeding is a subset of extended breastfeeding which increases mother-child attachment, bring an easier adjustment of the older baby to the pregnancy and addition of the newborn to the family situation, creates natural family spacing, can bring longer periods of amenorrhea, and increases "the mother's perception of attachment with the first child as she can maintain the closeness she has established through breastfeeding”, (O'Rourke and Spatz, 2019, p. 223).
Through a series of interviews with three women who tandem breastfed, the authors collected information to provide a synthesis of implications for clinical practice. The first, and in my opinion the most important is the normalization of tandem breastfeeding, described as "a multifaceted progression of society accepting ideas,” (p. 226). Also, recommendations are provided on recognizing the mother's experience, watching your language as a health care provider, and connecting both yourself and the breastfeeding family to resources.
Happy National Breastfeeding Month!
Kathy Parkes, MSN-Ed, RN, IBCLC, FILCA CHC
Professional Development Educator
O'Rourke, M.P, and Spatz, D.L. (2019). Women's experiences with tandem breastfeeding. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing;44(4): 220-227.
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