As a new mom, you receive tons of advise and one of the things that is most discussed is whether to feed at one breast or both at each feeding. There is actually wisdom in both schools of thought and it is best to follow what works best in your particular situation.
The way breast feeding works is, the more a mom feeds the more milk she will make. The less she feeds the less milk she makes. If a mom chooses to use only one breast at each feed the baby will be kept longer at the breast which means the breast is drained completely and hence the signal that is received by the body is that this is the amount of milk that is needed to be replenished. However if a mom feeds at both breasts at every feed, there is a possibility that she will switch breasts too fast and hence not cause complete draining. The baby may also not receive enough of the hind milk which means that there will be weight gain concerns in the long term period.
There is a lot to be said for feeding at both breasts per feed as well. Once the baby has emptied the first breast, the baby needs to be burped. Just held up right for a few minutes and then offered the second side. What happens here is that the air which has collected in the stomach during the feeding now exits and there is a little space. Offering the second breast will ensure that the baby’s stomach is full and this will allow for longer gaps between feeds. This is especially great for night times when mom needs her rest. Over and above this each breast gets stimulated at each feed which means more stimulation and hence encourages greater milk production and maintaining the milk supply for a longer period of time.
It is recommended that both breasts are used equally as this ensures that both breasts work equally. This will prevent differences in size and structure of the breast post breast feeding years. Often it is seen that moms who favour one breast over the other tend to have one breast heavier than the other in the long term as well.
It is great for the baby as well to feed at both breasts equally as it promotes optimum eye muscle development as the baby is looking up at the mother from different angles each time.
There is also a lot of research which indicates that using both breasts equally ensures left and right brain development as there is equal stimulation for both the left and the right brain.
We must remember though that each mom and baby pair is a unique combination and it is best to do what works best for you. If baby is comfortable, satisfied and gaining weight well then even feeding at one breast per feed is just fine. However if you feel that you have a low milk supply then ensure that you offer both breasts at each feed as this will help build up your milk supply.