Here’s Why You Should Switch Breasts While Breastfeeding

Here’s Why You Should Switch Breasts While Breastfeeding

25 Apr 2022 | 5 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 340 Articles

Breastfeeding is a whole new experience for a new mum. It may seem difficult as well as confusing in the beginning for a first-time mother, who is just learning breastfeeding techniques. While breastfeeding, infants tend to prefer one breast over the other. You may think that it is okay as long as the baby is getting enough milk but switching sides during breastfeeding is important.

Read on to know why:

Why Should You Switch Breasts While Breastfeeding?

One of the main reasons why you should switch breasts while breastfeeding is that feeding from only one breast may lead to a reduced supply in the other breast. However, there are more reasons why you should switch breasts while breastfeeding your baby. 

For Baby’s Weight Gain

For many mothers, switching breasts helps to increase the amount of breast milk they are able to get at each feeding. By switching between breasts, the baby will get encouraged to suck for a longer period. 

Feed your baby at least 8-12 times in 24 hours and don’t wait for them to cry as latching is better when they are relaxed. When your child latches on your breast, your brain releases the hormones prolactin and oxytocin that are vital for lactation as it stimulates milk ejection.

Switching sides while breastfeeding can make sleepy babies a little active and hence help in nursing /  Image source – Pexels


For Sleepy Babies

For sleepy babies who do not give signals to get fed at least eight times in 24 hours, switching breasts helps. It helps the baby in sucking longer. Also, give the baby a comfortable breastfeeding position. So every time your baby stops sucking, slows down and starts to fall asleep; switching can wake them up to feed better.

You will have to wake your baby up every two hours to feed her/him until there is an improvement in the weight.

For Low Milk Supply

If you are facing a low breast milk supply then you can try switching nursing to help boost it up. The additional stimulus felt by both breasts caused by changing sides, a few times during feeding, can lead to a boost in the supply of breast milk. If your baby seems to be gaining weight slowly, consult your doctor to see if the baby is healthy. Keep a close watch for any signs of dehydration.

What Professionals Recommend

Experts recommend that switching breasts in the first few weeks helps latching better / Image source – Pexels

It is advised to breastfeed from both sides during each feeding session, especially in the first few weeks after your baby is born. The production of breast milk increases as a result of breastfeeding on both sides while you are just setting up your milk supply.

Moreover, breastfeeding from both sides helps keep away the common problems of breastfeeding such as mastitis, breast engorgement and plugged milk ducts.

However, you can opt for the feeding method which makes both you and your child comfortable. You can determine this once your milk supply is well set, which usually happens when they are around four to six weeks old. During this period, your baby should be gaining proper weight.

Feeding on one breast is fine, but if it appears that they are still hungry after feeding from one breast, then it is advisable to switch the breast until the baby is full. Alternate breasts during the next feeding, If you don’t switch breasts.

Understand your baby’s needs as they grow. You can let them breastfeed on a single side for as long as they want. After that, when they stop breastfeeding,​ gently remove them from your breast and burp them. If the baby wants to continue nursing more after that, you can offer the other side.

In the first few days of breastfeeding, switching breasts usually works well because, during this period, the baby is going through a speedy growth. However, as soon as your milk supply increases and your baby is nursing well, you can use the same side in a single feeding.

You may experience swollen breasts(engorgement) around the third day postpartum as your first milk, colostrom, is replaced by mature milk. Even though it is a temporary condition, it can be painful. Nursing frequently during this period is the best way to alleviate this, but it can be difficult because your baby may have trouble properly latching onto an engorged breast.

Here’s how you can take care of swollen breasts:

How to Take Care of Swollen Breasts

A warm shower can help soften the breasts easing the nursing / Image source – Pexels

To ease this problem, nurse your baby frequently during this period. However, your baby might not be able to latch on properly to an engorged breast.

Here’s what you can try to make it easier-

  • Take a warm shower to help soften your breasts
  • Extract some milk using your hand or a breast pump. Extract only enough to soften the breast so that the baby can properly latch on.
  • Try ice packs after nursing to decrease the swelling and relieve pain. 

Most mothers face issues with breastfeeding during the initial days post delivery. Just hold your baby close to your chest to understand him/her. You will slowly find a way that makes you both comfortable.

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