If you’re reading this, congrats on your newly arriving baby! I suspect you’re doing everything you can to help your older child prepare for their new sibling. And if they’re still nursing, you’re probably wondering how a nursing toddler will affect your colostrum output in the early days of breastfeeding.
The short answer: It will be fine! Your body will be able to handle nursing your toddler and producing the correct milk for your newborn.
Even though your body can totally do this, you may need a break from breastfeeding some days. Pregnancy is tough, and it’s okay to set boundaries with your toddler. Sign up for your FREE Gentle Breastfeeding Limits cheat sheet.
If you want more details about whether you will make enough colostrum while nursing your toddler (and whether you can give your toddler colostrum), keep reading.
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Do you still produce colostrum if already breastfeeding?
You may be afraid that breastfeeding while pregnant will stop you from producing colostrum entirely. But don’t worry; this isn’t the case!
RELATED: Breastfeeding during pregnancy – what you need to know
RELATED: Tandem nursing a newborn and toddler
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Note: Breastfeeding through pregnancy may make you more tired or may even make nausea worse. I found it helpful to night wean my kids when I was pregnant (although they still nursed a little during the day time).
RELATED: How to gently night wean your toddler
Eventually, your body will switch over to making colostrum again. You don’t have to do anything (just like with your first pregnancy); it just happens.
If your nursling still gets a significant portion of their calories from breastfeeding (say, if they’re 6-12 months old), make sure to watch your output carefully and supplement if necessary.
Note: Colostrum tends to taste saltier than mature milk because it contains less fat and sugar. Some toddlers don’t like the taste of this type of milk and will wean on their own during your pregnancy. Many don’t care (My friend said she could have been producing motor oil and her child still would have drank it) and will happily continue nursing.
Milk supply when breastfeeding while pregnant
If you nurse while pregnant, your supply will dip sometime towards the end of the first trimester. There’s a good chance that, by 20ish weeks, your supply will dwindle to pretty much nothing (it may be later for some women; it just depends).
If your nursling is a toddler, your decreased supply won’t be a problem. Just make sure they have plenty of other nutritious foods to supplement.
RELATED: Baby led weaning approach to starting solids
Will I make enough colostrum for my newborn if I’m tandem nursing?
After your baby is born, colostrum, a thick yellow-gold liquid, is the first milk you produce. There’s not a large volume (you’ll only make a few spoonfuls at a time), but it’s easier for your newborn to take from you and it’s full of antibodies.
If you’ve had a hospital birth, you’ll likely have a day or two in the hospital before you go home. In that case, you’ll only see your toddler a few times during those days. Just let your baby nurse as much as they want to, and you don’t have to worry about your older child taking all your colostrum.
RELATED: How to know if my breastfed baby is eating enough
And if you are home with your toddler and newborn before your milk comes in, just make sure your newborn nurses first, and then let your toddler nurse afterwards. There will be plenty of colostrum for your baby.
Can I give my toddler colostrum?
If you’re wondering if you can give colostrum to older babies, don’t worry. There’s no reason your toddler can’t have colostrum, either during pregnancy or in those first few days after your new baby is born.
It will probably taste strange to your toddler, so they may not like it as well as your mature milk, but it’s got lots of antibodies and immunofactors to support their health.
If you’re worried that giving your toddler colostrum will affect when your milk comes in, fortunately, that’s not a problem either.
Will my mature milk come in too early if I’m tandem feeding?
Your mature milk is signaled to come in by the delivery of your placenta. Your progesterone and estrogen levels come crashing down, while your prolactin levels increase.
Within about 2-5 days, your milk will come in. This has nothing to do with your toddler nursing, so don’t worry about letting your older baby cuddle up for snuggles and milkies. If you’re comfortable with it, you can even let your older and younger nurslings feed at the same time. It’s a really sweet bonding experience.
Can I still nurse my toddler after my baby is born?
You can totally continue to nurse your toddler after your baby is born! It’s a sweet way to build their relationship.
Some people will tell you to let your newborn nurse first so they don’t miss out on any milk. That’s not a bad idea, but if you’re engorged, you may want to let your older nursling go first. Their stronger latch can bring you some relief, and the fattier, more caloric hindmilk will be left for your newborn.
RELATED: Engorgement relief for the first week breastfeeding
Some tandem feeding moms deal with nursing aversion, where they feel agitated or like their skin is crawling when they breastfeed. Often, this only happens with the toddler but not the younger child.
If this happens to you, don’t feel guilty or ashamed. You’re not a bad mom, it’s just something your body and hormones have done to you. I’ve written a whole article with ideas on how to get relief from breastfeeding aversion.
RELATED: Nursing aversion – When breastfeeding isn’t magical
Conclusions on colostrum levels when nursing a newborn and toddler
I hope this post assures you that yes, you can continue to nurse your toddler during your newborn’s early days without worrying about not making enough colostrum.
Remember, adding a new baby into the mix is a big adjustment, whether or not you choose to tandem nurse. Even if you and/or your toddler are struggling with your new roles, it’s going to be okay. Good luck with your growing family, and let me know any questions you have in the comments.