Most people assume that you need to have two functional breasts to breastfeed a baby but there are women who, for a variety of reasons, nurse their babies, on one side only. The first concern people bring up is whether the baby will get enough milk. When you consider that mothers of twins (and more) can successfully breastfed it is clear that each breast will produce the amount of milk needed given the right stimulation.
The most common reason for mothers to find themselves breastfeeding from one side only is past surgery for cancer or to remove a benign lump. If the ductal tissue of the breast has been removed or severely damaged the breast may not produce milk or the milk may not reach the nipple. Other mothers have found themselves nursing on one side because of physical issues of their own or the baby’s, or they have a baby whose adamant refusal to feed from one breast can’t be overcome.
Producing an adequate milk supply when breastfeeding on one side only requires the same things as stimulating a milk supply in both breasts: putting baby to the breast early and often and ensuring that baby has a good latch. The breast that is not stimulated will, over time, stop producing milk.
If you are surprised that breastfeeding is possible with only one functional breast you may be even more surprised to know that mothers have breastfed twins or tandem nursed a newborn and a toddler with only one breast. With knowledge, support and determination breastfeeding mothers can do amazing things!
**Note: If you have a breastfeeding question, please click here.