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Feeding from one breast

Baby prefers one side? Yes, this is common and yes, you can feed from just one breast

one breast
In the first month many babies may be satisfied with only one breast. If your baby is well attached and sucking effectively, they will keep feeding until the breast is emptier and then come off by themselves or fall asleep. They may or may not want the second breast. If your baby shows continued feeding cues, then offer the other breast. 

You may be told to keep putting your baby back to the first breast in order to ‘drain the breast’ fully. If your baby came off the breast on their own, then it’s likely that breast is already well-drained. They will get more milk by moving to the second side.  

Most mums breastfeed from both breasts at a feed but it is possible to fully breastfeed from just one breast. Sometimes we call this ‘one-sided feeding’. It can be for a short time or long term.  

Milk supply in each breast responds separately to the stimulation from your baby, so if you feed more on one side, that breast will make more milk. If less milk is taken from the other side, it will gradually make less. 

You may need to feed from one side because:

  • You may have had previous breast surgery and one breast may make less or no milk.

  • You may have a physical disability that makes feeding on one side difficult. 

  • You may have experienced recurrent or long-term breast or nipple problems on one breast and choose to wean your baby from that side.  

  • Your baby may start to prefer one breast to the other and over time the less-effective breast stops producing milk.  

  • Your baby refuses to feed from one side. 

My baby prefers one breast to the other  

It’s normal for your breasts to be a bit different to each other in size and shape. Sometimes the amount of milk they each make is also quite different. 

Your baby may have a preference: 

  • for a faster or slower let-down 

  • for a differently shaped nipple 

  • to hold their head in a particular way.  

You may have: 

  • more milk available on one side 

  • one breast with a faster/slower let-down 

  • differently shaped nipples on each side 

  • a preference for holding baby on a particular side. 

Commonly asked questions

Is it possible to even out the sides?

You can encourage your baby to feed from the less effective side: 

  • Offer the least preferred side first at each feed. 

  • Put baby back to that side or feed on that side more often. 

  • Try to position baby in a way that is similar to their preferred side.  

  • Try some gentle strategies to encourage your baby to take that breast

Is it okay to breastfeed from one side only?

Yes. It is possible for your baby to be fully breastfed using one breast. This is a normal situation for some mums. They just decide to stick with the breast that makes more milk. If you are feeding from one side, you can check that your baby is getting enough milk.

In situations where one-sided breastfeeding is temporary, you can get help and support to encourage your baby back to the breast they have not been feeding from. If one-sided breastfeeding is long term, be reassured that many mums can feed their babies exclusively from one breast successfully especially if the baby is fed according to their needs. 

What if I have to stop feeding from one breast?

If you have a physical or medical condition where you have to stop breastfeeding from one breast, you will need to stop the milk production on that side. Depending on your situation and the stage of breastfeeding you are at, this may be relatively quick and easy or it may take some time. You will need to reduce the feeding (or expressing) on this side. It's helpful to do this gradually, if possible, to avoid blocked ducts and/or mastitis

Will I look lopsided?

Yes you probably will look lopsided but it is unlikely that anyone else will notice. Any difference in size is temporary and your breasts will go back to a more equal size when your baby weans. If you're feeling self-conscious, you might consider a bra filler. 

You may be reading this and be feeling scared or unsure. Because of the number of variables associated with one sided breastfeeding, you may like to seek help from one of our qualified breastfeeding counsellors or lactation consultant.