Can co-breastfeeding my first child and my newborn affect colostrum production?

Updated on: Jan 29, 2016

No, co-breastfeeding does not deprive the newborn of the benefits of colostrum as long as it is in demand. The presence of another nursing baby may even help colostrum production and make breastfeeding easier. 

Colostrum is the first milk that a newborn is given after birth. Its production begins in the second trimester of pregnancy due to hormones from the placenta (estrogen and progesterone).   

During the first three to four days of life, newborns exclusively drink the colostrum produced specifically for them. The production of colostrum may even be prolonged, due to stimulation from the older child who is still breastfeeding. After the colostrum, mature milk production will begin rapidly, stimulated by suckling and the hormonal changes associated with childbirth. These changes are mainly related to the expulsion of the placenta and the hormones it secretes.  

After four months of pregnancy, placental hormones decrease the production and ejection of mature milk. Thus, since the quantity, taste (due to preparation of the colostrum) and ejection of milk are modified according to the needs of the unborn child, some breastfed children naturally lose interest in the breast. However, if children continue to be breastfed throughout pregnancy, it is important to ensure that their needs are met by introducing solid foods such as meats, grain products, vegetables and fruits as soon as they show signs of readiness. Commercial infant formula may be appropriate if the breastfed baby is still relying heavily on breast milk. For more information, click here. 

If the older child is only breastfed occasionally, no special measures are needed to ensure that the infant gets enough colostrum. However, to ensure that the infant grows properly and gets the most benefit from the colostrum, it is best to nurse the infant before the older child and to change breasts regularly if the older child is still heavily dependent on the breast. Within a few days of delivery, mature milk production will resume. If the older child continues to breastfeed frequently, it is important to consider that the breastfeeding needs of the infant take precedence over those of the older child. 

Stimulation of the breast by the older child generally results in a more rapid onset of mature milk, but the milk contains more colostrum for a longer period of time. In addition, the process of milk let-down may be easier to achieve because of drainage by the older child. Milk production then adjusts to the demand of both children, as is generally the case in other breastfeeding situations, such as with twins. 


Allard, M., Desrochers, A. (2010). Bien vivre l'allaitement. Montréal : Éditions Hurtubise HMH.

Cetin, I., Assandro, P., Massari, M., Sagone, A., Gennaretti, R.,
 Donzelli, G., …Davanzo, R. (2014). Breastfeeding during Pregnancy : 
Position Paper of the Italian Society of Perinatal Medicine and the Task Force on Breastfeeding, Ministry of Health, Italy. Journal of Human Lactation, 30 (1), 20-27.

Mohrbacher, N. et Stock, J. (2003). The breastfeeding answer book (3e éd). Schaumburg, Illinois: La Leche League International.


Australian Breastfeeding Association. (2006). Breastfeeding through Pregnancy and Beyond.



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