Breastfeeding From Only One Side At Each Feeding

5 Situations When You Shouldn't Alternate Breasts

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Should you breastfeed from one breast at each feeding, or should you offer both breasts at each feeding? This decision is a personal choice that should be based on what feels more comfortable and convenient for you. As long as your baby is getting enough breast milk and growing at a steady rate, there is no right or wrong way when it comes to how you switch breasts. However, there are some situations that can arise when you may want to nurse from only side, or perhaps, when you don't really have a choice.

Reasons To Breastfeed From Only One Side At Each Feeding

You Have An Overabundant Supply of Breast Milk

When you have too much breast milk, nursing on the same side at each feeding - or even for a few feedings in a row - can help to slow down the production of breast milk in the opposite side. If your other breast becomes engorged, express only a little bit of breast milk. This will help to relieve some of the pain and pressure, but it will not stimulate the production of an even greater amount of breast milk.

Your Baby Is Showing Signs of Colic

In some cases, especially if you have an overabundant milk supply, feeding on both breasts can be associated with symptoms of colic. If your baby is fussy, gassy, gaining weight quickly, and having green bowel movements, nursing on one breast at each feeding may help to reduce these symptoms.

Your Baby Has A Breast Preference

Some babies will only nurse on one breast and completely refuse the other one. This is called a breast preference. In most cases, a baby can get enough breast milk from just one breast, so it isn't necessarily an issue. However, sometimes the refusal to nurse on one side could indicate a problem. Certain health conditions can change the flavor of your breast milk. Talk to your doctor and have a breast examination. If there aren't any underlying health problems, and your baby is growing at a consistent pace, you can choose to accept that she prefers one side or you can try these tips for dealing with a breast preference.

One Of Your Breasts Needs A Rest

If you have a breast infection, a nipple blister, dermatitis, or very sore nipples on one side, it may be too painful to nurse. You might choose to nurse only on the unaffected breast so that the painful side can have some time to heal. In the meantime, don't forget to pump from the side that's healing to keep up your milk supply.

You Only Have One Functioning Breast

If you have had breast cancer treatments, a mastectomy, or breast surgery that only affects one breast, you can breastfeed from the unaffected side. As long as you have one breast that can produce breast milk, you can nurse from just that breast. It is certainly possible to make enough breast milk for your child with only one functioning breast, but it's important to have your milk supply and your baby's weight monitored just to be sure. And remember, even if you are unable to make a full supply of breast milk, you can still continue to breastfeed along with supplementation.

If you have any questions or need more information about breastfeeding and alternating breasts, talk to your doctor or a local breastfeeding group.  When you know more about your choices, you can make a better decision for you and your child.

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Article Sources
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.
  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.