My baby perfers one breast over the other

My baby is fussy on one breast! – Transcript

Every now and again I hear breastfeeding mothers say that their baby seems to be fussing on one side (breast) but really favouring the other side, and feeding is going absolutely fine on that favoured side. If this situation is happening when your baby is really young even in the first two weeks for instance after the birth it’s a good idea just to ask your doctor to check your baby for any minor injuries which might be causing your baby to be in some discomfort on a particular side.

But it’s also simply possible that your baby is just favouring one side because it’s easier to latch (comfortable feeding video) on that particular side. We know that generally there isn’t total symmetry between breasts, and that includes nipples as well. Some women have a flatter nipple on one side and a more protruding one on another, and babies sometimes just take a bit of extra time to get to feed as well from both sides.

Asian mother breastfeeding her baby boyHowever if your baby has been feeding really well on both sides and then suddenly starts to become more fussy on just one particular side, it can be due to a number of reasons; the first reason can be something as simple as an ear infection or some other illness which has just caused your baby to be more uncomfortable on that particular side. It can sometimes be something as simple as your baby having had an immunization – and that particular side is just causing a little bit of extra discomfort.

And bear in mind it’s also possible that if you’ve had mastitis very recently, your baby may be fussy on that particular side because the volume of milk actually 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, but of course your supply can be boosted up again as the breast starts to empty more – and your supply of milk is always in a state of flux.

So if your supply HAS dropped on that particular side either because of mastitis, or just that your baby has not been emptying the breast so well, and there is less milk being made, and the flow is slower – all of those reasons, there ARE ways to boost supply. Of course your baby needs a really good reason for staying on that side, – so I would certainly suggest that you use breast compressions when your baby is on that side, to manually cause a letdown of milk – to push milk out of the breast, and your baby will then swallow that milk and when milk comes off the breast your body makes more.

So please look at the videos about that will talk to you about the technique of breast compressions, and it’s also really great to know that breasts work independently in their production of milk (how breastfeeding works) so your body can make ALL the milk your baby needs, even from one side, so your milk supply is always in a state of flux, and of course things are going to change over time – there will be differences in the milk supply from time to time. Your baby WILL fuss at times on one side and not on the other, but with a few adjustments you can certainly rectify the situation, and it might be that in a few weeks time your baby is favouring the other side for a time!

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

If your baby is completely refusing one side then it’s possible to use a pump (expressing by pump) to tell your body to make milk, and another handy hint really in regard to helping your baby who is fussing on one side, is to allow your baby to do the hard work of calling down the milk on the preferred side. Even if your baby was due to be on this difficult side, just let your baby call that milk down, because the milk will come down simultaneously after those number of seconds -however long they are for you; unlatch your baby then, and bring him over to the least preferred side. It just means he’s not going to have to work hard to call that milk down, – and this can be another positive thing, alongside the breast compressions of course.

Mom soothes a crying babyBut if you find that your baby is completely refusing the breast, then use a pump to keep that supply up -the pump will tell your body to make milk and protect your supply until that supply increases, and your baby is happy to be back on the breast again.

But I certainly would encourage you to seek out skilled support if you’ve tried all of these strategies and you’re finding that after that period of ok feeding, your baby is completely refusing that other side. Sometimes there can be other things going on within the breast itself, and it may warrant having an ultrasound (breast abscess video) just to check that out. But for the majority of breastfeeding women, however, when you find yourself in this situation, taking action on these points that I’ve mentioned will help to bring about a really good resolution.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

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


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