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Women's Experiences with Tandem Breastfeeding

O'rourke, Molly Patricia BS, BSN, RN; Spatz, Diane Lynn PhD, RN-BC, FAAN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: July/August 2019 - Volume 44 - Issue 4 - p 220–227
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0000000000000534
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Background: Choosing to breastfeed is a decision with far-reaching benefits; strengthened immune systems, all-encompassing nutrition, and fostering healthy attachment. For these and other reasons, some mothers are reluctant to wean their child due to a subsequent pregnancy. Mothers may breastfeed throughout their second pregnancy, give birth to their second child, and simultaneously breastfeed two children. This practice is known as tandem breastfeeding.

Purpose: We explore the biological and emotional considerations of tandem breastfeeding and offer practical suggestions for nurses.

Methods: Three mothers who engaged in tandem breastfeeding were identified and interviewed. Interviews were face-to-face or over the phone. One researcher conducted all interviews using the same questions that served as the foundation and guidance for the discussion-based interview. The interviews lasted 40 to 60 minutes and were audio recorded to minimize recall issues during data analysis.

Results: Three mothers shared their tandem breastfeeding journeys, challenges faced, and overall perspectives. This was an opportunity for mothers to share feedback on how nurses provided education and care as well as suggestions for nursing care of future mothers who choose to tandem breastfeeding.

Clinical Implications: Through research and case-series interviews, we developed implications for nursing practice. Nurses must be informed and supportive of mothers' decisions to tandem breastfeed.

Some mothers are reluctant to wean their child due to a subsequent pregnancy and may breastfeed throughout their second pregnancy, give birth to their second child, and simultaneously breastfeed two children. These mothers are engaged in tandem breastfeeding. In this study, the biological and emotional considerations of tandem breastfeeding are reviewed and women who have experience with tandem breastfeeding offer practical suggestions for nurses.

Molly Patricia O'Rourke is a graduate of the second-degree accelerated BSN program at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA. She will enter University of Pennsylvania MSN program in Midwifery in May 2019 and has a special interest in perinatal mood disorders.

Diane Lynn Spatz is a Professor of Perinatal Nursing and the Helen M. Shearer Professor of Nutrition School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; and Nurse Researcher and Director of the Lactation Program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Director of CHOP's Mothers' Milk Bank. Dr. Spatz can be reached at spatz@nursing.upenn.edu

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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