My baby perfers one breast over the other

My baby is fussy on one breast!

Sometimes breastfeeding mothers say that their baby seems to be fussy and unsettled on one particular breast appearing to favor the other breast. Feeding is going well on the favored side. 

If your baby is less than two weeks old, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor to check your baby for any minor injuries, which may be causing some discomfort when feeding on a particular side.

It’s also possible that your baby is favoring one side because it’s easier to latch on that side. Generally, there isn’t total symmetry between breasts.

That includes nipples as well. Some women have a flatter nipple on one side and a more protruding one on another, and babies sometimes take a little extra time to perfect the art of feeding on the more challenging side.

However, if your baby has been feeding well on both sides and then suddenly starts to become fussier on one particular side, it can be due to several potential factors.

It could be something as simple as an ear infection or some other illness which has caused your baby to be a little uncomfortable on that particular side.

Even a recent immunization could cause a degree of discomfort when your baby feeds in a specific position.

If you have had mastitis very recently, your baby may be fussy on that particular side, because the volume of milk reduces during mastitis, and the taste of the milk can change as well because of the reduced volume.

So this can also be a factor. If this is your situation, be encouraged because you can boost your supply up again!

As more demand happens at the breast and your breast empties more, your supply of milk will increase. 

If your supply HAS dropped on one particular side, there are ways to boost your supply. Your baby needs a good reason for staying on that side.

Because of this, consider using breast compressions when your baby is on that side, to manually cause a let-down of milk, in effect,to push milk out of the breast.

Your baby will then swallow the milk, and when milk comes out of the breast, your body makes more. Look at the information about that and learn the technique of breast compressions

It’s also really great to know that breasts work independently in their production of milk.

Your body can make ALL of the milk your baby needs, even from just one breast, so your milk supply is always in a state of flux. Your supply will change over time – there will be differences in the milk volume at any given moment.

Your baby WILL fuss at times on one side and not on the other, but with a few adjustments, it is possible to rectify the situation, and it may be that in a few weeks your baby will favor the other side for a season!

So things move on. Be assured that your baby can get all he needs by being able to feed as often and as frequently as he wants, irrespective of which breast that happens to be.

If your baby is completely refusing one side, then it’s possible to use a pump on that side, to tell your body to make milk.

Another strategy to help your baby who is fussing on one side, is to allow him to do the hard work of calling down the milk, on the preferred side.

Even if he was due to be on the more difficult side, just let him call the milk down, (because the milk will come down simultaneously after several seconds), then unlatch and bring him over to the least preferred side.

Doing this will ensure that he won’t have to work hard to call that milk down. You will find this to be another positive thing, alongside the breast compressions.

If you find that your baby is completely refusing the breast, then use a pump to keep your supply up.

The pump will tell your body to make milk and protect your supply until supply increases, and until your baby is happy to be back on the breast again.

Also, seek out skilled support if you’ve tried all of these strategies, and your baby is still wholly refusing that other side.

Sometimes there can be other things going on within the breast itself, and it may warrant having an ultrasound to check that out.

For the majority of breastfeeding women, however, when you find yourself in this situation, using these strategies will help enormously.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022

References

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