One Side Or Two

Should I Nurse My Baby From Both Breasts Or Just One?

The answer is "yes," you should feed from both breasts - or just one - depending on your body and your baby.

The Research

Dr. Peter Hartmann, Professor in Biochemistry at The University of Western Australia did extensive research on milk synthesis. He discovered two important facts in answer to our question.

Each Woman Has Her Own Storage Capacity

Each woman has a certain storage capacity in her breasts which is not only different from other women's but can even differ between each of her breasts. This means that while you might have enough for a whole feed in one breast, your baby may need to nurse on both of your breasts to get the right amount. No one knows his storage capacity. We have to let the baby tell us if he needs to eat from one side or both.

Changes in Fat Content Throughout a Feed

Hartmann also discovered that the composition of breast milk changes throughout a feed. As the breast empties the fat content of the milk increases. A baby who is taken off the breast while he is still actively nursing may not have gotten to the higher fat milk and may not feel satisfied.

Finish the First Side First

Your breasts do not suddenly switch into high fat mode at a certain time. It is a gradual process dependent on many factors. The best thing to do is to let the baby nurse from the first side until he finishes. That is, his body is relaxed, his sucking has slowed down, and he takes longer pauses and releases the nipple. In this case the baby has had enough of the high fat milk.

Offer the Second Side

If your baby starts to root again for more milk put him on the second side. You can think of this as having a drink after the meal, though some babies will take another whole meal. There may be times of the day that your baby wants only one side and times that he wants both.

Your Baby's Appetite

You also need to take your baby's appetite into consideration. Some babies are bigger eaters than others. Many young babies cluster feed. That means that at least once a day they bunch together several meals. In this case, your baby may want a third side and a fourth. Again, there is only one person who can tell you, your baby.