My Experience of Nursing Through a Pregnancy and Tandem Nursing

Have you ever wondered if you can breastfeed through a pregnancy or even tandem nurse?

A lot of moms automatically assume they must, or they are told to wean by their Doctors.

The truth is, however, is that most women don’t have to wean their nursing baby if they get pregnant. Some have thought that because the uterus contracts during breastfeeding, mom should not breastfeed while pregnant.

They believe there is a possibility that those mild contractions can cause early labor or miscarriage. This isn’t the case however.

The uterus also contracts during normal physical activities and during sex. As long as these activities aren’t deemed off limits by your doctor, nursing is probably okay too.

While weaning may turn out to be the best decision as your pregnancy progresses, you don’t have to assume that at the beginning. Many mothers have kept  nursing while pregnant and then gone on to nurse both children after the baby’s birth.

You can join that rare breed of tandem nursing mamas if you and your child want to simply keep nursing. Moms who have tandem nursed have found that the older baby experiences less sibling rivalry and feels less displaced by the birth of the new baby.

There are other benefits too – for instance, tandem nursing moms enjoy a very plentiful milk supply yet don’t experience engorgement.

Personally, I found that nursing while I was pregnant (and very sick with nausea) helped me get some much needed rest with a toddler who was otherwise keeping me on my feet!

Here’s what’s to expect if you decide to breastfeed through a pregnancy and/or go on to tandem nurse.

The first part of tandem nursing is nursing through an entire pregnancy. It is possible to temporarily wean during pregnancy and have the older child resume nursing after the baby’s birth. The child may want to, or she may not. In either case, you will be nursing through a significant part of your pregnancy.

The pregnancy hormones cause nipples to be more sensitive to touch in general, and nursing may be uncomfortable for you.

At times it can be painful. Every woman’s body is different so you will have to decide what you can tolerate.

In many cases, the discomfort comes and goes at different times of the day or stage of the pregnancy. If it starts to hurt, you should try to figure out if it hurts all the time or if there’s a pattern you can detect.

There are reasons why a mom nursing an older baby may have soreness that have nothing to do with the pregnancy. For instance, she and the older baby may have gotten into some sloppy habits. Maybe they aren’t latching on and positioning properly.

This can happen even if you’re an “old pro” at breastfeeding. If despite taking measures to prevent nipple pain there’s still too much discomfort, that may be a good reason to wean.

Pregnancy changes the taste of the milk.

Often called weaning milk, the milk a mother produces during pregnancy is often more salty.  The nursing child will notice this change in milk quality. Many children will wean on their own because they don’t like the taste of the pregnancy milk.

However, some children will enjoy nursing so much they’ll put up with the change. This was the case with my own breastfeeding toddlers – they hardly seemed to mind the change, it was a small price to pay in exchange for the continued closeness with Mom.

The quantity of your milk will also decrease.

You will produce less and less milk as your pregnancy progresses. Some children will wean because there isn’t any more milk. However, others won’t mind the decrease. My kids who nursed through their sibling’s pregnancy never seemed to.  Some toddlers will continue to comfort nurse even though they aren’t getting much milk.

Low milk supply is another cause of cause discomfort or pain.  That may be another reason to wean.

Regardless of whether you produce no milk or a little milk, your older child will be getting most of his nutrition from solid foods.

Once the baby’s born and the milk comes in, there will be plenty more milk for both of them if the older child is still interested – and he might very well be, although some rare toddlers will wean when their mother’s milk supply returns in abundance.

Mine didn’t, but I’ve heard of this happening. Mine just acted like they had hit the jackpot. The Milk Fairy had returned!

While it is possible to continue to nurse through a pregnancy, it’s going to be an extra drain on your system in addition to growing the new baby. You will need to consume enough nutrient dense foods to make sure you have enough reserves for yourself and your children.

Make sure you are eating well and often and getting much needed rest. Remember that since nursing is a relationship, there is nothing wrong with setting limits with your nursling in order to make yourself more comfortable.

[See also: nursing the older baby and what to expect from your nursing toddler]



About Carrie

Happy wife, homeschooling mom of 7 curious kiddos, autodidact, author, blogger, head chef, wanna-be French girl and barefoot walker. Residing just outside Atlanta, usually found reading a book.


  1. melanie says:

    I remember seeing a photo of tandem nursers and thinking, “I would never do that!” But when I got the news I was pregnant again my little guy was just too little for either of us to think about weaning. He nursed all through (I had been vegetarian and began eating meat again at this time). I remember nights he was crying and rejecting the breast, I never knew about the saltiness before. But more or less, even through the drier period, he kept on. When his brother was born and he first saw him nursing, he had such an alarmed look on his face! I opened my shirt and offered him the other side and oh, how delighted he was, and to get the good milk again too! I think it really helped with the sibling thing. We tandem nursed for a year and I have no regrets!

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