Breastfeeding From Both Sides At Each Feeding

5 Reasons To Alternate Breasts Within A Nursing Session

57226211 Jose Luis Pelaez Inc. Getty Images
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

Is it better to offer both breasts at each feeding, or should you just offer one breast at each feeding? Well, there really is no right or wrong when it comes to breastfeeding and alternating breasts. Ultimately, it comes down to what works best for you and your child. There are certainly times when nursing from one side is a better option (or the only option), but there are plenty of reasons to nurse from both sides within the same feeding, as well.

5 Reasons To Breastfeed From Both Sides At Each Feeding

You Need To Build Up Your Milk Supply: When you first have your baby, breastfeeding from both breasts at each feeding is recommended. By nursing from both sides every 2 to 3 hours, you will be stimulating the production of a healthy milk supply.

You Want To Try Switch Nursing: If you're struggling with a low milk supply, you can try switch nursing. With this technique, you start nursing on one breast, then when the baby stops nursing, you offer the other breast. Each time your baby stops nursing, you switch breasts. This is helpful in the first few day postpartum when you're building up your milk supply, or when your baby is going through a growth spurt. However, switch nursing should not be used for a long period of time. Once your milk supply begins to increase, you should go back to switching sides only once per feeding.

You Have A Sleepy Newborn: When you have a sleepy baby, it may be helpful to offer both breasts at each feeding.

The baby is more likely to wake up between sides and begin nursing again. Burping your baby, or changing his diaper between breasts, may also help to rouse him from his sleepy state so that he may nurse better.

Your Breasts Are Engorged: During the first few weeks of breastfeeding, your breasts can become engorged as your milk supply adjusts to your baby's needs.

If you nurse from only one side at each feeding, you are more likely to experience the pain and pressure of engorgement in the breast that hasn't been nursed on. If you offer both breasts at each feeding, your breast milk will be removed from each breast every 2 to 3 hours, so there will be less pressure in your breasts between feedings.

Your Baby Is Gaining Weight To Slowly: If your baby is gaining weight slowly and only nursing on one breast at each feeding, you may want to try offering both breasts at each feeding. Switching breasts within the same feeding may provide your baby with more breast milk at each nursing session.  

If you have questions or concerns about how to breastfeed your baby, contact your doctor, a lactation consultant, or a local breastfeeding group such as La Leche League International, for more information and the proper assistance.  

See Also:



American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

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