Baby only wants one breast per feeding
Breastfeeding FAQs: Supply and Demand (for Parents)
Breastfeeding is a natural thing to do, but it still comes with its fair share of questions. Here's what you need to know about your milk supply.
How Do I Know if I’m Making Enough Milk for My Baby?
Your baby's diapers can help you tell if your little one is getting enough to eat. The more your baby nurses, the more dirty diapers you'll see.
Because colostrum is concentrated, your baby may have only one or two wet diapers in the first 24 hours of life. After 3–4 days, look for:
- 6 or more wet diapers per day, with clear or very pale pee. Fewer wet diapers or darker pee may mean your baby's not getting enough to drink. If you see orange crystals in a wet diaper, call your baby's doctor. They're common in healthy, well-fed babies and usually not a cause for concern. But sometimes they're a sign that a baby isn't getting enough fluids.
A newborn's poop is thick and tarry at first, then more greenish-yellow as mom's milk comes in. After 3–4 days, look for:
- 4 or more yellow, seedy poops per day, usually one after each feeding. After about a month, babies poop less often, and many may go a few days without pooping.
Your baby probably is getting enough milk if your little one:
- feeds 8–12 times a day
- seems satisfied and content after eating
- sleeps well
- is alert when awake
- is gaining weight
If you're worried that you baby isn't getting enough to eat, call your doctor.
How Can I Increase My Milk Supply?
Your milk supply depends on how often you nurse or pump your breasts. The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk your body makes. So, if you seem to be producing less milk than usual, nurse your baby more often. You also can pump after nursing to help stimulate more milk production.
Some things, like stress, illness, and some medicines, can temporarily lower your supply. But drinking plenty of water and eating nutritious foods can help. Also try to take some time for yourself each day, even if it's only for 15–30 minutes.
If your baby is younger than 6 months old and you're away from each other for long stretches during the day, pump or hand express every 3 hours to maintain your supply.
If your milk supply still seems low and you're concerned, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant.
If I Wait to Nurse, Will My Milk Supply Increase?
Actually, no — it's the opposite. Waiting too long to nurse or pump can slowly reduce your milk supply. The more you delay nursing or pumping, the less milk your body will make. That’s because overfilled (engorged) breasts send a signal to your brain that you need to make less milk.
I'm Producing Too Much Milk. What Can I Do?
Some women may feel like they don't have enough milk, while others may feel like they make too much. Some mothers' bodies just make more milk than their babies need. Others overstimulate their breasts by pumping or expressing milk between feedings.
If you feel like you have too much milk, here are some ideas:
- Alternate the breast that you start each feeding with. Let your baby stay at the first breast until either the breast is very soft or your baby is full. If your baby is not satisfied with the first breast, offer the second breast.
- Try nursing on only one breast at each feeding, if possible. Over time, you may notice your milk supply and "let-down reflex" (the milk ejection reflex) get easier to handle.
- If expressing or pumping to relieve discomfort, remove just enough to feel comfortable but don't empty the breast completely.
If you’ve tried these things and you still have problems with too much milk, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant.
My Baby Nurses on Just One Breast. Will This Hurt My Supply?
Some babies will be satisfied after nursing from only one breast. Others might prefer one breast over the other. If your baby has only fed from one breast and you are comfortable at the end of a feeding, you don’t need to pump. But if either breast is still full and uncomfortable, pump or hand express to comfort.
To keep up your milk supply in both breasts (and to prevent painful engorgement), it’s best to alternate breasts, whether in the same feeding session or between different sessions. Remember to keep your baby on the first breast until it's soft, and then move your baby to the second breast. This ensures that your little one gets the hindmilk, which is creamier and has more calories than the foremilk, which comes at the beginning of a feeding.
My Baby Is Sleeping Longer At Night. Will This Hurt My Supply?
When babies reach their birth weight and can sleep for longer stretches at night, the time between nighttime feedings gradually lengthens.
Letting your baby sleep for longer periods during the night won't hurt your breastfeeding efforts. Your growing baby can take in more milk during the day — and that, in turn, means longer stretches of sleep at night. Your milk supply will adjust to the new routine.
If you wake during the night with full breasts and a sleeping baby, consider expressing or pumping for comfort to help your body adjust to the new schedule.
If you follow your baby's cues and spread out the feedings, your milk supply should keep up with your baby’s needs.
Reviewed by: Jamila H. Richardson, BSN, RN, IBCLC
Date reviewed: January 2021
Lopsided! What can I do? • KellyMom.com…When baby prefers one side, or when supply or breast size is greater on one side
By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC
- Is this a problem?
- Why does it happen?
- Evening things up
- Persuading baby to nurse better on the less preferred side
- Will baby get enough milk?
Is this a problem?
Most women notice differences in milk supply, pumping output, milk flow and/or size between breasts. As with many other things (foot size, ring size, eyesight, etc. ) asymmetry is normal in humans. In some women the difference between breasts is hardly noticeable; in others it is very noticeable. There is every variation in between. This is not usually a problem in terms of the breastfeeding relationship, so you certainly don’t need to do anything about it if the asymmetry does not bother you or baby; however some mothers prefer to even things out, particularly if there is a very noticable difference in breast size.
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Sometimes babies will refuse or fuss at a breast when the let-down is slower or too forceful, or the supply a bit lower. They in turn will prefer the side which lets down more/less quickly and in which the supply is more bountiful.
Why does it happen?
Possible reasons for variations in supply/milk flow between breasts:
- Normal anatomical differences. All women have one breast that has more working ducts and alveoli than the other (usually the left side, though either is normal). Some women also have differences between the two areola/nipples (inverted, flat, different shape/size) which make it easier for baby to latch on to one side than the other.
- Baby’s preference for one side. Most babies have a side preference to some extent. From the start, your baby may feel more comfortable being held on one side and therefore nurse it more efficiently and/or more frequently.
- Mother’s preference for one side. Mom (consciously or subconsciously) may offer one side more than the other because she feels more comfortable nursing on that side.
- Breast surgery or injury. If one breast was ever operated on or injured in any way, supply and/or milk flow can be affected.
If your newborn is refusing one side, have her doctor do a good physical exam to check for birth injuries. Some babies will have an injury that goes unnoticed at birth, but causes baby discomfort when in certain nursing positions.
If baby suddenly begins to refuse one side, it could be caused by an ear infection or other illness in baby (making nursing painful or uncomfortable on that side), an injury to baby (or something else, such as a sore immunization site) that makes nursing painful in that position, or a breast infection in that breast (which can make the milk taste salty). Many babies who refuse one side do so because mom has a much faster or slower letdown on one side (baby might prefer either the faster or slower flow). If all other possible causes are ruled out and baby continues to refuse one side, then consider seeing your doctor just to rule out any breast problems.
Evening things up
It is fine to just do nothing, but if the lopsidedness is bothering you, you can try to increase milk supply on the smaller side to increase the supply/breast size/milk flow on that side. Be careful, though, not to neglect the larger producing breast too much and allow too much backup of milk in that breast, because that may make you vulnerable to plugged ducts and mastitis.
Here are some things that can help to even things up (you don’t need to do them all; start off with the one thing that looks most workable for you):
- Start baby on the smaller side for each feeding for a few days (baby usually nurses more vigorously on the first breast offered).
- Nurse on the smaller side twice as often. For instance if you nurse on one side per feeding, you might nurse on the small side for two feedings, the larger side for one, then back to the smaller side for the next two feedings, etc.
- Pump the smaller side for 5-10 minutes after some feedings.
- Add an extra pumping session (for 10-20 minutes – smaller side only) in between feedings.
If the larger side becomes overfull, express just enough milk to relieve the pressure. Most mothers notice an “evening out” of some proportion within 3-5 days of doing these things. Most moms use these measures for a short time only, until they get the desired results, but others continue long-term.
There may always be a small degree of difference in breast size – at least to your own eyes. If there is an obvious difference in appearance through your clothing, you may want want to use nursing pads to give a more even appearance. Usually a difference in size is much more noticeable to you than to anyone else.
Persuading baby to nurse better on the less preferred side
- Try starting your baby on the preferred breast and then once let-down occurs, slide her over to the other side without changing the position of her body. For example, start her in the cradle position and then slide her over into the football position.
- Continue to try different nursing positions.
- Offer this breast to your baby when she is just waking up but not fully awake or already a little sleepy. She is more likely to instinctively nurse at this time.
- Nurse in a darkened and quiet room.
- Offer this side with motion; i.e. walk, sway, bounce, rock, etc. until your baby starts
- If let-down on the less preferred side is too fast or slow, follow the suggestions in Let-down Reflex: Too slow? or Forceful Let-down Reflex
- If supply on the less preferred side is low, follow the suggestions above and in Increasing low milk supply.
- If baby seems to want a faster flow from the less preferred side, then try doing breast compressions to speed the flow.
- See the suggestions in Help — My Baby Won’t Nurse!
- Patience and persistence are key. Keep trying, and praise baby when she nurses well. Most of the time a baby will take the less-preferred breast with time. If baby is refusing or nursing rarely on one side, you may need to pump this side as often as the baby is nursing the other side in order to better maintain your milk supply.
Will baby get enough milk?
Yes – your baby can get all that she needs as long as she is allowed to nurse as often as she wishes – even if you nurse exclusively on only one side. If there is simply a difference in supply between breasts, baby will adjust her nursing to compensate. Overall milk production is generally not a concern unless other factors are involved.
If baby is completely refusing one side, you’ll want to pump that side as often as she nurses to maintain supply until you get her back nursing on that side.
If all else fails, one-sided nursing is very possible as long as your baby is allowed to
nurse without restriction. The side that you are not nursing on, once allowed to “dry up,” will be smaller than the other side. This will result in some degree of lopsidedness (though it may not be obvious), but this will remedy itself once weaning occurs.
What to do if the baby takes only one breast - "Healthy baby's online cabinet"
Ksenofontova Olga Leonidovna
Deputy chief physician of MBU "EKPC"
First of all, you need to understand the question - did the baby always prefer the same breast, or had there been no problems with alternating breasts before? If a child initially has a tendency to breastfeed with one breast, it is possible that he has problems with the cervical spine and neck muscles. On the other side and at the other breast, it is simply uncomfortable or painful for him to lie. This problem will be solved by a neurologist or pediatrician during examination, and this is usually detected almost once - in the first weeks of feeding. Then, for the duration of treatment, you should choose comfortable positions for feeding at both breasts - it can be from under the arm, hanging over the baby, in a cross cradle, and so on, the main thing is that the position of the child’s body is convenient for his muscles.
If the child does not have physical health problems, the reason for the refusal of one breast may be in the formation of the refusal as such. The baby may be sucking on a pacifier and developing nipple tangles, or selectively rejecting one breast in any position because it contains too much milk. And then, at the beginning of feeding, it pours too much from it, which makes the baby refuse it in favor of another breast - softer and with less pressure. Perhaps the reason for the refusal is the psychological discomfort of the baby - it is inconvenient for the mother to reproach the child with one of the breasts. She is not so comfortable putting the baby to her chest, and he catches this on a subconscious level, refusing the “unloved” breast. Sometimes the refusal of one breast is a kind of “demonstration of strength” by the baby and a way to control the mother, a kind of whim of the baby. Sometimes the breasts can be somewhat different from one another - it is easier and easier for the baby to get milk from one breast than from the other. And then the child can refuse a more “complex” breast in favor of a simpler one.
First of all, do not panic and be nervous. With a strong nervousness of the mother, the baby may refuse the breast completely, feeling her physical and emotional stress. At the same time, the mother’s milk in a state of stress is “clamped” by oxytocin in the chest and it becomes more difficult for the baby to get it. Pull yourself together and calm down. But you need to correct breast rejection at its earliest stages, until the baby has switched to breast rejection altogether or you yourself have come to terms with the fact that you will feed from one breast for the rest of the time. First of all, you need to understand for yourself that you are the mother of this baby and you are the leader in your couple, you are the main one and you will need to decide which breast and which of the feedings you will give to the baby. Feeding on demand implies not only the requirements of the baby itself, but also the requirement of the mother - if she has chest discomfort or a feeling of breast fullness, if she needs to feed in this situation with her left or right breast. It is extremely important to understand this for yourself and follow this rule. You need to be completely confident in yourself and in the correctness of all your actions. However, in such a delicate situation as the beginning or already completed refusal of the breast, you should not go too far either, insist on your opinion and breastfeeding with a certain breast should be extremely delicate, since violence in terms of breastfeeding can turn the situation in the opposite direction to you.
How to start the process of dealing with the rejection of one breast? First of all - change the program - that is, feed the baby with the unloved breast in an unusual position for him or use non-standard places for feeding him, sometimes you can feed the child with the unloved breast on a walk, in the kitchen with the noise of working appliances, in the car while traveling on business . Do the same when feeding for falling asleep: always start feeding by offering the baby his favorite breast, and when the baby starts to fall asleep, quickly change the breast to the one that he does not take well. Offer the same breast at night. When the baby wakes up for feeding, half-asleep children are usually more willing to agree to an unloved breast, if only to cling to their favorite milk faster again. Can be used to persuade you to take an unloved breast sources of white noise hair dryer, noise or splashing of water, sounds of nature or light music. Usually, breast rejection does not last long, and if you quickly eliminate the cause of discomfort and cope with your tension within yourself, then the child will quickly again be evenly applied to one and the other breast.
If you let the situation take its course, you can get a categorical rejection of the breast because there will actually be less milk in it due to its low stimulation. Then the baby will be capricious and offended by the lack of milk when trying to suck, and over time will refuse one breast altogether. Then you will have to feed with one breast, which entails a chain of new problems, for example, the formation of different breast sizes.
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What is normal breastfeeding? | Interview with Dr. Jacqueline Kent
It can be difficult for new mothers to understand if breastfeeding is going well, so we decided to ask the expert if it is possible to talk about the norms when it comes to breastfeeding.
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Dr Jacqueline Kent, Research Fellow, Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group:
Jacqueline joined the University of Western Australia research team in 1986 and received her PhD in 1999. She is currently researching the biochemical and physiological aspects of breast milk synthesis and release in search of scientific information to help mothers breastfeed longer.
Dr. Jacqueline Kent and her colleagues have been studying breastfeeding for many years. As it turned out, for all mothers and babies, this process occurs in its own way.
What were the most surprising results of your research?
Variety. It turns out that the limits of the norm are extremely wide.
We are used to textbooks that say that an infant should eat 8-12 times a day and gain 150 grams per week. But babies don't read textbooks and do things their own way! Some gain weight more slowly, others very quickly.
We followed exclusively breastfed infants aged one to six months. As our studies have shown, on average, a child is breastfed 4 to 13 times a day, and the duration of one feeding varies from 12 minutes to 1 hour. 1
How much milk do breastfed babies usually consume?
According to our research, the volume of milk consumed by baby
ranges from 54 to 234 ml per feeding. 1
Sometimes it seems to the mother that the baby ate well, but when weighed, it turns out that he ate very little milk. And it happens the other way around: the child is distracted, breastfeeds for only a few minutes and still eats 100 ml of milk. Even if the baby is restless, this does not mean at all that he is malnourished.
All babies are different, but they all get as much milk as they need in one way or another. One needs 500 ml of milk per day, while others eat up to 1356 ml!
By the way, boys on average eat 76 ml more milk per day than girls. The main thing is that you have enough milk, and the baby will decide when and how much he will eat.
Should I offer my baby a second breast?
I advise offering the second breast to the baby after the first has been completely emptied. If he accepts it, then he hasn't finished eating. If not, don't worry. Let the baby decide for himself - only he knows when he is full. According to our research, 30% of babies get enough milk from one breast, 13% eat from two breasts at each feed, and 57% from time to time. 1
How do you know if a baby is getting enough milk?
In my experience, mothers often blame themselves for not producing enough milk. Ask yourself: Is my child growing? Is he putting on weight? Is he cheerful? Is his skin healthy? How often does he get diapers dirty? If the answer is “yes”, then the baby is getting enough milk, no matter if he eats a lot or a little.
What is the most common misconception about breastfeeding?
Mothers usually think that the older the child gets, the more often
he needs to be fed and the more milk he will eat. They are often surprised to learn that between the 4th and 26th weeks, total milk production normally does not change. 2
In the first few months, the baby grows very quickly and his metabolism is accelerated. The milk that the child consumes during this period is almost completely used for growth and maintenance of metabolism.
Between the ages of three and six months, metabolism slows down and growth slows, so the same amount of milk is sufficient for the baby. In other words, the baby does not have to consume more and more milk as they grow older. On the contrary, feedings become shorter and less frequent, but at the same time the child receives the same amount of milk, because he suckles better.
Do studies say anything about the age at which breastfed babies start sleeping through the night?
Most babies need to be fed at night.
A baby's stomach is not big enough to go all night without a feed, and breast milk is digested very quickly. Therefore, it is natural for the baby to wake up at night - and this usually continues for at least the first six months. Feeding at night is normal. When you feed your baby at night, do not even hesitate - all over the world at this moment other mothers of babies of the same age are doing the same. Be patient - it usually only lasts a few months. 1
What worries new mothers the most during the first few weeks of breastfeeding?
The most common concern is whether the baby latch on properly, sucks well, and is full during feeding. Often mothers also worry about sore nipples. The main thing is to find the right position for feeding from the very beginning and ensure that the baby is latching on correctly. Practice shows that this significantly affects the flow of milk and the convenience of feeding.
What breastfeeding symptoms should be of concern?
Milk production usually returns to normal levels two weeks after delivery. If the child does not begin to gain weight on the fifth or sixth day of life, it's time to sound the alarm. You should contact your doctor to make sure that milk is being produced and that its composition is changing from colostrum to mature breast milk.
What advice would you give to a new breastfeeding mother?
Try to ensure skin-to-skin contact with the baby as soon as possible after delivery. If possible, feed your baby within the first hour of life, or at least breastfeed. As soon as possible, contact a specialist to correct the position and grip of the breast during feeding and thus avoid damage to the nipples.
Feed frequently. Young mothers do not immediately succeed in correctly recognizing the signals that the child gives. Be sure to feed your baby on demand, and not at set intervals. Offer the breast as soon as you notice any signs of hunger - as a rule, the baby suckles better when he is calm. If he cries, it is more difficult for him to take the breast. If you are not sure what the child wants, offer him the breast. He decides whether he wants to eat or not.
To learn more about Dr. Kent's research, download infographic "How to determine the limits of the norm when it comes to breastfeeding" or see it below.
1 Kent JC et al. Volume and frequency of breastfeedings and fat content of breast milk throughout the day. Pediatrics . 2006;117(3): e 387-395. - Kent J.S. et al., "Amount and frequency of breastfeeding and fat content of breast milk during the day." Pediatrix (Pediatrics).