Do I always have to offer both breasts at each feeding?

One or both breasts? That is the question! Many mums wonder whether they should feed from one breast or both at each feeding. Really, there is no set rule. But, here is what I have found to work best:

  1. Feed your baby on one breast, for as long as he/she is actually getting milk from the breast (typically until the baby comes off himself, or is asleep at the breast). If your baby feeds for a short time only, you can compress the breast to keep the baby feeding, not just sucking. Please note that a baby may be on the breast for two hours, but may actually feed for only a few minutes. In that case the milk taken by the baby may still be relatively low in fat. This is the rationale for compressing the breast. The longer the baby feeds, the higher in fat the milk (which means longer spurts in between feedings). If, after "finishing" on the first side, the baby still wants to feed, offer the other side.
  2. At the next feeding, you should start the baby on the opposite breast in the same way. Keep track of which breast baby fed from last.

Your body will adjust quickly to this method and you will not become engorged or lop sided. There is no “rule” for feeding both breasts at each feeding. Do what is comfortable for you and your baby. A growing, happy baby is the goal! Whatever works for you will be perfect for your baby.