Breastfeeding ... with ABA blog. 21 April, 2022.
Jess's story of one sided breastfeeding.
Yesterday, I woke up feeling a little sad. My second baby, almost 6 months old, refused my Little Boob; he has been refusing it more and more over the past week, so it didn’t really come as a surprise. Also, my first baby had refused to feed from Little Boob, so I knew this might be a possibility this time around. In fact, many mothers notice that one breast makes more milk than the other and/or that her baby prefers one breast to the other (although many babies will drink from both). However, it is entirely possible to exclusively breastfeed from one side; think twins. But I was still disappointed that baby Will had decided Little Boob was no longer needed. I was dreading years ahead of lopsidedness. I felt like I had failed again.
So, my mind took me on a journey of reflection. My first breastfeeding experience threw me challenge after challenge. My “Super Boob”, as an ABA counsellor had renamed it, produced a good supply and my baby attached well. My underachieving boob, with its odd “bifid nipple”, (picture a flat nipple with a crease down the middle) was hard work for both of us! By the time my first baby was 7 weeks old, I could not feed from Little Boob at all. Determined to continue breastfeeding, I spent hours researching the possibility of one sided breastfeeding. Were there others out there like me?
Lo and behold! There were stories of other mothers who had done just that; ladies with only one boob, babies with preferences, other tales of troublesome/ funky nipples just like mine. So, with the knowledge that one sided feeding was “a thing”, I committed. I would hand express once a day in the shower to keep the breast drained and avoid those pesky blocked ducts. Sometimes I hand expressed and kept my small volumes to add to purees – it was nice the think that Little Boob had some use. Of course, I also kept a close eye on nappy output to make sure my baby was getting enough milk. I looked for at least 5 heavily wet single-use nappies in 24 hours, good skin and muscle tone and some weight gain and growth in length and head circumference. Weigh-ins with the child health nurse also re-assured me that breastfeeding was going well. But a final word of warning about one sided feeding … I did spend the next 2 years lop-sided and needing fillets to fill out my bra!
On my second breastfeeding journey, I really wanted to give Little Boob a chance to shine. But, my baby had other ideas. From day one, there was pain as soon as he attached. I tried many different positions but, in the end, the advice I received was to just wait it out and perhaps once his mouth grew a little bigger I would get pain free attachment. So, I pumped Little Boob at every feed and sustained my growing baby boy from trusty Super Boob. I pumped 8 times a day for 6 weeks and ended up with an exploding freezer stash! What a treat! So, with my litres of milk, I tried to give my baby a bottle … you know, for that time where I might want to venture out solo. But he would not take it! What?! I have 3 litres of milk and a baby who won’t take a bottle!! Instead, I ended up donating my liquid gold to other mothers in need. It felt amazing to help other mothers and babies. When I connected with them, I was emotional and re-lived the struggles of my first breastfeeding experience. I also reflected on how lucky I was to have a healthy baby, a full supply and the knowledge and support of ABA.
Sometime later at an ABA local support group meet up, still not being able to let go of the idea that I could make two-sided feeding work, I asked again about how to encourage my baby back to Little Boob. The kind counsellor told me about her own son who had decided at 9 months that he preferred one side. She decided not to fight it and trusted in her body’s ability to provide everything her son needed from one breast. She helped me to be OK with not feeding ‘like everyone else’. So, I simply let it go. The local ABA group gatherings are an invaluable part of the services ABA offers. You can connect with other mothers and access support from compassionate and knowledgeable breastfeeding counsellors.
So, with my thriving baby, sustained by one beautiful lactating breast, I am grateful. I am grateful for my Little Boob too; the under achiever that has provided 3 litres of milk to other babies in need. Now, that is not failure!
Breastfeeding sometimes doesn’t look like what you thought it might but often you can make it work for you. Do what you can, whatever that looks like. Thank you Big Boob, and thank you too, Little Boob.
WORDS // Jess
Jess is a trainee breastfeeding counsellor who lives in the northwest of Melbourne. She looks forward to being able to support other mothers on their breastfeeding journey and advocates that breastfeeding is not all or nothing.
For breastfeeding counselling, please call the Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 mum2mum or 1800 686 268. The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) runs the National Breastfeeding Helpline, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is staffed by trained, volunteer counsellors who answer calls on a roster system in their own homes. The National Breastfeeding Helpline is supported by funding from the Australian Government.
Here are more ways you can get information and support right now:
- Tune into our companion podcast on this topic. Search for 'Breastfeeding ... with ABA' on your podcast app or listen here.
- Download our free breastfeeding booklet Breastfeeding Confidence.
- Download our mum2mum app via the App store or Google Play.
- Join the Breastfeeding with ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) Facebook group and answer the joining questions.
- Call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Chat with a volunteer via LiveChat on our website.
- Sign up for an interactive and informative breastfeeding class.
- Get books and resources on general and specialist breastfeeding topics.
- Join ABA as a member to get your free copy of our best-selling book Breastfeeding … naturally + free access to all premium content on the mum2mum app + discounted breastfeeding classes + half-price breast pump hire + unlimited access to ABA events + more!
Find out more about Breastfeeding … with ABA.