One Breast at Each Feeding? by Dr. Jack Newman

The photo attached shows an exclusively breastfed, well gaining baby sucking his fingers. The mother has had a decrease in her milk production. Many consider a baby sucking his fingers at this age normal, but I don’t agree.

I have posted on this question of “one breast at a feeding” more than once before, but many who responded went on and on about how one breast per feeding worked for them. Granted. But I am not saying mothers MUST feed on both breasts at each feeding. I am saying OFFER both breasts at each feeding.

Here is the issue: Feeding one breast at a feeding to “follow a rule”, can result, and frequently does result, in a decrease in the mother’s milk production. See Consider this:

1. A baby is not receiving milk from the breast simply because he is latched on sucking, so keeping the baby on one breast with the illusion the baby is receiving the “high fat milk” is, yes, an illusion. If the baby is not actually drinking milk, the baby can stay on one breast eternally and not get the “high fat milk”.

2. See also: Feeding one side at a time and not offering the other breast often leads to a decrease in milk supply and fussiness of the baby, pulling at the breast, sucking his fingers and even breast refusal. And very often to an incorrect diagnosis of “colic“, “reflux” and/or “allergy to something in the mother’s milk”.

I receive emails from mothers who are feeding the baby on only one breast at each feeding, and yet are supplementing the baby with bottles of formula after the first breast.

Breastfeeding and rules do not go together. Mothers tend to have more milk in the morning than the evening, so babies might be satisfied in the morning after one breast, but not necessarily in the evening. What might work at 3 weeks after birth often does not at 3 months. Just offer the second breast.
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