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Breastfeeding - One side preference

What to do if your baby will only feed on one side, why this happens and where to get help and support.

If you're having trouble with your baby attaching to one side only:

  • it may be their preference to feed on this side
  • there may be a physical cause for this behaviour

This is a common breastfeeding issue. It is often easily resolved with advice and support from a breastfeeding specialist.

Side preference

Sometimes you may be more comfortable feeding on one side in particular. Your baby may also have a preferred side. This can eventually lead to your baby being fussy on the other side or refusing that side altogether.

Tips to maintain your milk supply

If your baby prefers feeding in a certain position, try moving them over to the other breast. When you do so, keep the same position.

For example, your baby is on the right breastfeeding well with a cross-cradle position. Move them over to the left keeping that position.

Related topic

Breastfeeding positions

You can also try starting feeds on the baby’s least favourite side first.

If your baby is still refusing this side, you can express your milk to help protect your milk supply. This will also help to make sure your breasts don’t feel overfull and uncomfortable.

Related topics

Expressing breast milk

Concern about your breast milk supply

Torticollis

Some babies may have torticollis. This is where the muscles of the neck are out of alignment. When a baby is born with this condition, it's known as congenital torticollis. It can also develop later.

In rare cases, it can be caused by instrumental delivery when your baby is being born. Forceps or vacuum deliveries can strain the muscles of the neck.

Torticollis can lead to feeding problems such as difficulty attaching to the breast. It can also lead to preferred sides or positions.

Your GP can refer your baby to a paediatrician or physiotherapist. This will help to relieve symptoms.

How to get your baby assessed

Get your baby assessed by an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). Some Public Health Nurses (PHNs) are IBCLCs - ask if your PHN can help.

If your baby is under 6 weeks, the lactation consultant in your maternity unit can review your baby. This will be free of charge.

If your baby is older, or your maternity unit does not have an IBCLC, you can get a private consultation. In this case, an IBCLC will visit you in your home. There is a charge for a private lactation consultant visit. But you may get some reimbursement if you have private health insurance.

Find a private lactation consultant in your area

Page last reviewed: 19/06/2019
Next review due: 19/06/2022

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