One sided breastfeeding

Many mothers notice that one breast makes more milk than the other and/or that her baby prefers one breast to the other (although will drink from both). This is usually normal and nothing to worry about. In rare instances, a large difference in breast size between breasts may indicate insufficient glandular tissue.

Sometimes, a baby might temporarily refuse one breast for a period of time (perhaps because he has a blocked nostril, ear infection or recent vaccination that is making one arm a little tender). Some mothers find feeding in a different position helpful if this occurs. A baby in this situation will usually return to feeding from both breasts once he is well again.

However, there may be other reasons why a mother needs to breastfeed from one breast only. The more milk that is removed from a breast, the more milk it will make. It is therefore possible for a baby to be fully breastfed using only one breast, especially if her baby is fed according to his needs. Essentially, this is what happens when a mother breastfeeds twins. As less and less milk is taken from the second breast, it will gradually stop making milk.

Reasons why a mother may breastfeed from one side

·         A mother may have had previous breast surgery that results in one of her breasts making little or no milk

·         Ongoing problems with nipple trauma/infection on one side. There are many things that can be explored for these conditions before a mother decides to wean from the troublesome breast.  Contact a breastfeeding counsellorlactation consultant or other health care provider for more information

·         Recurrent mastitis/blocked ducts/white spot on one side. There are many things that can be explored for these conditions before a mother decides to wean from the troublesome breast. Contact a breastfeeding counsellorlactation consultant or other health care provider for more information

·         Any physical issue that makes feeding from one side difficult (eg amputation of one arm)

How to start breastfeeding from one side

If you have decided to feed from one breast only, the milk production in your other breast will need to be stopped. Depending on the reasons why you are weaning from one breast, and the stage of breastfeeding you are at, this may be relatively easy and quick or may take some time. If one side has never made much milk, ceasing milk production on that side will likely be quick and easy. If the breast you want to stop feeding from has a well-established supply, you will need to be careful to avoid blocked ducts, and take weaning as slowly as necessary. See the weaning article for more information.

How to tell if your baby is getting enough milk from one side?

To help you work out if your baby is getting enough milk, see Is my baby getting enough milk? article. 

Will I look lopsided?

If you are breastfeeding from one side, you may notice that one breast is larger than the other (because it is making milk), but it is unlikely that anyone else will notice any difference. When your baby has weaned, your breasts will go back to more or less their original (and more equal) size.

Further information

Contact the Breastfeeding Helpline.  We also offer email counselling to our members as well as a full range of membership benefits

 

The information on this website does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

 

© Australian Breastfeeding Association July 2017

 

Last reviewed: 
Jul 2017