Refusing One Breast
One sided breastfeeding
Is baby refusing one breast?
women do notice a difference between their two breasts when it comes to
the flow of milk, volume of milk pumped and size between the two
breasts. This is normal, no two sides of a person's body are exactly the
same. If these differences don’t bother you or baby, you don’t need to
worry about them.
It’s perfectly okay to continue to let baby feed from only one side
while you pump the other side, or even let it dry up…this is a personal
Is breast preference normal?
Breast preference is a very common breastfeeding problem; newborns
especially have periods of preferring one breast. Usually baby will just start to pull away or fuss at the one breast.
If baby is refusing one breast…will he be getting in enough milk?
more baby drinks from one side the more that breast will produce, so
yes it is possible to breastfeed from one breast…but most moms would not
want to do this as it might cause them to look a little lopsided, until
they wean that is. Read the suggestions below on how to avoid and
As long as mom is
breastfeeding on demand
baby should be drinking enough.
So what causes one sided nursing?
- Single side breastfeeding can be caused by
on one side. The stiffness of the breast causes baby to struggle when trying to latch on.
- Differences in the nipple (one is maybe easier to latch onto) A mole or even hair can bother baby on one side. Different nipple variations.
- Flow differences between the two breasts, baby might prefer the breast with an easier flow, faster or slower flow.
- Forgetting to switch from one breast to the next will cause low milk
supply in the breast that was neglected. This is why it is so important
to switch breasts with each feeding.
Read more on how breast milk production works.
Remember that pumping does not stimulate supply as sufficiently as a baby would.
- If you have
in one breast, baby might not want to drink from it because it will
taste different (saltier because of increased sodium content). Also
breast milk can taste different (usually saltier) in one breast if it
has a lower supply than the other…this is why it's best to keep up your
milk supply by pumping so that you can keep trying baby on that breast.
- Maybe baby is refusing one breast because he is just more comfortable on one side.
- Breast surgery
on one side can cause a lower milk supply which can be the cause of baby refusing one breast.
- Baby might have a sore inside his mouth, a blocked nostril or
that causes pain when he breastfeeds from one side.
- A mother sometimes feels more comfortable breastfeeding from one side…if this is you…you can read more on
different breastfeeding positions
to find a position that is comfortable for breastfeeding on the other side.
- Sometimes birth trauma can cause baby to have a stiff neck on one
side, making it more difficult to breastfeed from one of your breasts.
- One breast might have a darker color breast milk, this is usually
because of a broken capillary and might cause a different taste…just
keep trying, after your breast has healed baby should start drinking
from it again.
- As a last result and if the problem persists
even after pumping, you should see your doctor, there is a small chance
that you might have breast cancer. Low supply and refusal to drink have
been found to happen when the ducts are filled with cancerous cells.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- One sided nursing can also be caused through previous breast cancer treatment on one side...
read more on breastfeeding and cancer
What can I do?
- Pump the emptier breast for at least 10 minutes after every feeding or until the breast is empty.
(with a good breast pump, electric is best)
store the milk
from the side baby is refusing, this will keep your supply up.
stored milk might be necessary if baby is only drinking from one side.
If you are worried about nipple confusion you can use
alternative feeding methods.
Also if you stop pumping from the side baby doesn’t like, you
could risk becoming a little lopsided. (the breast that contains more
milk will look larger than the other) Don’t worry too much about this,
your breast will return to their normal size after weaning from
- You can also add a 10 minute pumping on the emptier breast in-between feedings to increase milk supply on that side.
- Try offering the least desired breast first with every feeding.
- Try offering the least desired breast when baby is half asleep so
that he doesn’t realize which breast he is breastfeeding from.
Trick baby into drinking from that breast by placing him in the same
position as with the other breast. Usually from cradle hold to football
- If the breast milk problem was caused through skipping
feeds on that side because you forgot which breast you fed from last you
can just start feeding more often from that breast…making sure that you
don’t neglect the other breast, (express just enough to relieve
pressure) because not doing this could cause engorgement.
- Try different
breastfeeding positions, especially the lying down positions, which seem to work for some moms in getting babies drinking from the other side.
- Offer the least preferred breast by breastfeeding while walking or in a
The motion might encourage a feeding on that side.
your emptier breast (breast with less milk) this will not only increase
milk supply, but also helps with a more even milk let down on that side.
- Never force baby to breastfeed from the undesired breast, you might cause a complete
- If your one nipple is a little different and seems to be causing a problem you can use a
- If baby seems to choke more on the one breast when feeding it
is probably a sign of a very forceful letdown…you can first pump a bit
of milk to decrease the flow before offering the breast to baby.
- Once baby is full you can use your less preferred breast for
…the sucking and stimulation will help increase your supply
patience and perseverance…most babies who are refusing one breast will
usually take that breast over time when they become more experienced at
Other pages on “breastfeeding problems” connected with refusing one breast
- Breast strike (not only refusing one breast, but both)
- How does breast milk production work
- Alternative feeding methods
- Breastfeeding after breast surgery
- Pumping exclusively
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