Written by Editorial Team
“Breastfeeding is the best for your baby”. Most of us have grown up hearing this adage. The ability to nurse the baby is an experience that every new mother cherishes. The whole process creates a bond between the mother and the baby and also has its advantages health-wise for both. However, not all mothers have a seamless experience feeding their little ones. The baby breastfeeding from one breast only is one of the common problems a new nursing mother can face.
Many times newborns prefer to feed on one breast of the mother. The baby may become fussy and simply refuse to suck from the other breast. So, what to do in such conditions? Will the baby receive the necessary nutrition when nursing from one breast only? Will the mother face any issues if this happens? We would start by saying that it is absolutely normal and fine for an infant to prefer one breast over the other. Read ahead to know more!
It is more convenient and comfortable for many mothers, especially new mothers, for their babies to nurse from one breast as opposed to the other. Usually, this happens when the baby is more comfortable in one position than another or when the mother is more comfortable holding the baby on that side. The mother may want to breastfeed from the preferred side if left or right-handed, just as she would do other things. Thus, breastfeeding one-sided is not uncommon.
Breastfeeding on one side is easier for many mothers. Listed below are a few reasons mothers prefer to breastfeed from only one breast.
Breastfeeding from one side will cause one breast to be larger than the other. This is entirely normal since the milk-producing breast has more milk than the other breast. However, nobody else will often notice the difference besides the mother. Even if others notice, you shouldn’t be concerned about it. Breasts will return to their normal size after weaning.
There could be many probable reasons for it – recent mastitis which could change the taste of the milk, latching problem, different shape and size of the nipples, or uncomfortable position. An older baby could reject feeding from one breast if the milk supply is poor. Sometimes, there could be other reasons for the mother to breastfeed the child from one breast.
For example, infection in one nipple, mastitis or blocked duct at one side, one breast producing less or no milk, or any other physical issues that the mother may be going through. Some mothers find it more convenient to hold the baby feeding at one preferred side, making the baby used to that one breast.
It is important to figure out why your baby is not feeding on one particular breast. Make sure your baby doesn’t have an ear infection or a stuffy nose. Ear infections and stuffy noses are two common reasons why babies refuse to feed on one side.
It’s also important to check the latching position and if the milk is letting down quickly or slowly. This depends on how much milk you produce. The baby may refuse to feed if the mother’s breast is infected.
There will be enough milk for your baby even if you only nurse from one side. When your baby feeds from one breast more often, the milk supply in that breast increases. Breast milk production is influenced by demand. As the demand increases, so does the supply. Therefore, if your baby appears to be content and is gaining weight while you are breastfeeding from one breast only, they are getting enough milk.
Be it breastfeeding from one breast or both breasts, unarguably, breast milk is the best food for the baby. It gives nutrition and is also rich in components that help the baby fight against diseases and help build immunity. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is strongly recommended for newborns.
Despite what you might have heard, there are certain advantages to breastfeeding from one breast only:
The most common question for moms who breastfeed from one breast only is: is my child getting enough nutrition? Well, if you are in your early weeks of breastfeeding, most likely, you are producing enough milk, and so single breastfeeding is enough for your baby.
Many babies suck for comfort; breastfeeding from one breast only is advantageous on such occasions.
Many moms find it easier to make the baby latch onto one breast and find feeding easier. Mothers, in such cases, prefer breastfeeding from the breast that is more comfortable for them.
To know the tips for latching a baby for breastfeeding, click here.,
Some babies may feed frequently, which could be up to 20 times in a day. If the feeding frequency is high, the quantity will decrease with each feed. On such occasions, single breastfeeding is what the baby needs. If you keep switching the breasts, the baby may just get the foremilk and not enough hindmilk- the calorie-rich, thick milk that comes in later.
If the baby is thirsty, they will need to breastfeed just to quench their thirst. Single breastfeeding is sufficient on such occasions.
Though there are no major disadvantages to breastfeeding from one side only, some minor discomforts that may arise due to breastfeeding from one side are
If the baby has a breast preference and refuses to feed on the other, one breast will produce more milk than the other, leading to a noticeable size difference in the breasts.
If the baby is continuously fed from one side, there could be some amount of lopsidedness in the breasts; however, it will be fine once the baby weans off completely.
One of the biggest disadvantages of single breastfeeding is the nipple may become cracked and painful. Continuous sucking on one breast can cause stress on the nipple, leading to pain and discomfort for the nursing mother.
Moms who feed on only one breast often complain of engorgement in the other breast. An engorged breast can cause leakage anytime. This could be an embarrassing situation for the mom.
Read here to know effective treatments for relieving engorged breasts.
If the baby is not feeding on one breast, there could be overfull which can lead to a painful breast. Moms can express some milk to ease the pressure and the pain.
You can use the following methods to encourage your baby to nurse from both breasts:
If the baby completely rejects feeding on one breast, moms may want to pump the breast milk on that side, to keep the supply ready and unaffected. Also,
Studies have shown that babies who feed only on breast milk have better immunity to fight against infections and diseases like ear infections, meningitis, lower respiratory infections, and stomach viruses. Breastfeeding also boosts cognitive development. For babies who are born preterm, breast milk is the best food. It helps them become stronger, gain weight and make them less susceptible to infections.
Not only for the baby, but breastfeeding also has lots of positive effects on the mother too. Nursing triggers the release of the oxytocin hormone which is associated with relaxation. This is why many mothers say that they feel relaxed after nursing. Several studies have also shown that moms who stopped breastfeeding or didn’t breastfeed at all, are at a higher risk of postpartum depression.
Many researchers are also of the opinion that mothers who breastfeed are at a lesser risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer. And above all, although it is not easy, breastfeeding is natural and helps the mother and the newborn bond, which only grows stronger over the years.
Yes, it can. If the milk is not drained, the ducts can get clogged. Try to feed on both breasts alternatively at least.
You can pump out the milk. Try feeding it with a bottle if your baby is used to bottles. If your baby has started eating other foods, you can add the milk to those foods.
The baby could like the flow better in this breast. If your baby has an ear infection, it might be painful for them to lie on that side. The feeding position might also influence this.
Be patient. Just keep offering the other breast first. When they are hungry, they might take the breast without a fuss.
With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.
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