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Baby Prefering One Side

A lady contacted us the other day asking:  "I'm just wondering if you have heard of babies preferring one breast to the other.  My almost 6 month old is doing this and I'm finding I'm having to pump from the one which she isn't drinking from."

The reasons for this can be a combination of things.  Sometimes babies will refuse one side when the let-down on that side doesn't quite suit them. Your breast on that side might have a slower or faster letdown (and baby might have a preference for either faster or slower flow) just depending on what suits them. Babies are SMART and they do develop a preference for what they like.

Though please bare in mind, if this is something that has just happened suddenly, it may be caused by an ear infection which is making nursing painful on that side as they swallow, so you might want to see your doctor to check that.

Also mum and baby each have a subconscious preference, and baby's natural preference, e.g. they often are more comfortable to hold on one side.

Here are a few ideas of what you can try,  choose something that you think you can tackle first.  You might not have to do everything listed here.

  • Try starting to breastfeed on baby's preferred side and then move baby over to the other side (without changing their body angle/position).
  • Continue to try different nursing positions, often the best results for this type of situation are when mum breastfeeds lay down on her side
  • Offer the least preferred breast to your baby first when they've just woken up and still a bit sleepy (and hungriest). Then it will be baby's instincts kicking in to feed when offered.
  • Try to feed from the least preferred side with a little motion, just to change the routine of sitting on the couch and feeding. It's a bit tricker to do, but you could try holding baby and breastfeeding while standing and swaying or walking until baby latches and feeds well on that side.
  • You can also express from the least preferred side to maintain supply.
  • If your baby seems to prefer faster flow, then do some breast compressions (downward massage to nipple) while feeding to speed the flow.
  • Stay patient and keep trying, but don't let it stress you out. Just give it a try each day.
  • And it is totally possible to breastfeed just from one side, if it comes to that, your body will adjust (albeit a little lopsided)
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