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Refusing One Breast


One Sided Breastfeeding

Is your baby refusing one breast?

Most 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. 

It is perfectly okay to continue to let your baby feed from only one side while you pump the other side, or even let it dry up; this is a personal decision.


Is Breast Preference Normal?

Breast preference is a very common breastfeeding problem; newborns, especially, sometimes have periods of preferring one breast. Usually a baby will start to pull away or fuss at the one breast.


If Baby is Refusing One Breast, will he be Getting in Enough Milk?

The more your baby drinks from one side, the more that breast will produce, so yes it is possible to breastfeed from one breast alone; 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 remedy this.

As long as Mom is breastfeeding on demand, her baby should be drinking enough, even if it is just from one breast.


So what Causes One Sided Nursing preference?

- Single side breastfeeding can be caused by breast engorgement on one side. The stiffness of the breast, may cause latching difficulty.

- Differences in the nipple (one is maybe easier to latch onto) A mole or even hair, can bother a baby on one side. 

Different nipple variations.

- Flow differences between the two breasts, your baby might prefer the one breast with an easier or faster flow of milk.

- Forgetting to switch from one breast to the next will cause low milk supply in the breast that was neglected.

Read more about how breast milk production works.

- If you have mastitis in one breast, your baby might not want to drink from it, due to the taste difference; it may be saltier because of increased sodium content.

- Breast milk may taste different (usually saltier) in one breast, if it has a lower supply than the other. To remedy this, you can increase your milk supply on that side, by pumping.

- Maybe your baby is refusing one breast because he/she 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/her mouth. A blocked nostril or ear infection that causes pain during breastfeeding on only one side.

- A mother sometimes feels more comfortable breastfeeding from one side; if this is you, you can read more about different breastfeeding positions, to find a position that is comfortable for breastfeeding on both breasts.

- Sometimes birth trauma can cause a 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 due to a broken capillary and might cause a different taste; just keep trying, after your breast has healed, baby should start drinking from it again.

Read more about blood in breast milk here.

- As a last resort, 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 occur when the ducts are filled with cancerous cells. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

- One sided nursing can also be due to previous breast cancer treatment on one breast.

 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 seems empty. Use a good breast pump, electric is best, and store the milk from the side that your baby is refusing, this will keep your supply up.

The stored milk might be necessary, if your little one is only drinking from one side. If you are worried about nipple confusion, you can use alternative feeding methods.

The breast that contains more milk, will look larger than the other. Don’t worry too much about this, your breasts will return to their normal size after weaning.

- Adding a 10 minute pumping session on the emptier breast, in-between feedings will increase the milk supply on that side.

- Try offering the least desired breast first with every feeding.

- Try offering the least desired breast when your baby is half asleep, so that he/she is tricked into breastfeeding from the other side. ;-) It can help to place him/her in the same position, as with the other breast. Usually from cradle hold to football hold.

- Try different breastfeeding positions, especially the lying down position.

- Offer the least preferred breast while walking or while holding your baby in a sling. The motion might encourage a feeding on that side.

- Massage your emptier breast, this will not only increase milk supply, but also helps with a more even milk let down on that side.

- Never force your baby to breastfeed from the undesired breast, you might cause a complete nursing strike.

- If your one nipple is a little different and seems to be causing a problem, you can use a nipple shield.

- If your 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 your baby is satiated, you can use the less preferred breast to comfort feed. The sucking and stimulation will help increase your supply.

Most babies who are refusing one breast, will usually take that breast over time, especially when they become more experienced in breastfeeding.



Other pages on “breastfeeding problems” connected with refusing one breast

- Breast strike (not only refusing one breast, but both)

- Breastfeeding after breast surgery

- Pumping exclusively

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breastfeeding from one breast for over a year 
My 2yr old is still breastfeeding on the breast he's prefered since he was 8mths. However,recently the breast not being used,pumped or anything has been …

Refusing one breast Not rated yet
Don't give up! Baby refusing breast: this is more than I usually like to share about myself, but maybe someone else is going through or will go through …

taste differences in breast milk Not rated yet
Thank you so much for this information. My 3.5 year old kept telling me one side (the slow side) tasted like coffee. Good to know taste differences can …

Breastfeeding from only one breast Not rated yet
I just wanted to say this article was very helpful and I wished I'd seen it earlier. From the start my little boy has preferred one breast. I have …

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Site by BFeeding Mamma, Tracy Behr. Currently studying through Child birth International (CBC, CBD). Also an accomplished author and Mommy of two.