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Why offer the second breast?

(11 Posts)
nickymorris Tue 21-Oct-08 16:43:49

I've been told to and seen it posted here on MN but why do they suggest offering the second breast?

I don't and DS is gaining merrily - 1lb and 10oz in last fortnight - he gained 6lb in the first 8 weeks since birth....

My logic was that if you offer the second boob they fill-up on the fore-milk of the second boob - getting less hind-milk themselves and encouraging your body to make extra fore-milk - rather than hind-milk.

But I thought that what you want your body to do is get the stimulus from baby that it needs to produce extra of the normal ratio of hind and fore-milk. So if DS finishes first boob I leave him there to stimulate my systems so that they know to produce more.

The only drawback of doing this is that sometimes if he's having a growthspurt we do have a slightly miserable day until the boobs catch-up. But normally he finishes leaving milk behind in my boob....and with a big grin on his face smile.

The only time I do offer the second boob is if I've expressed off one boob totally at the same time as doing the previous feed on the other boob. So at the next feed he get's two half-feeds of the correct composition - one from each boob - and each boob then gets the signal that it needs to produce more than it has been.

Interested in other people's opinions on this...

tiktok Tue 21-Oct-08 16:50:30

nicky, the breast makes only one sort of milk. What we have learned to call 'hindmilk' and 'foremilk' is very misleading. Milk is proportionately fattier if the breast is relatively empty; relatively fuller breasts have more watery milk. It's all good stuff, needs no engineering at all, and the baby sorts it out. There is no way of creating the 'right' composition - there is no such thing as the 'right' composition! Milk fat content is dynamic and changes all the time.

What you are doing is clearly fine for both you and your baby, and it sounds as if you are a generous producer. You make huge volumes by feeding one side only - fine This would not be the case for everyone, and offering both sides is a reasonable to start off with at least, for most women, to ensure they make the volume of milk needed

bamboo Tue 21-Oct-08 16:58:48

Tiktok, an idle query re foremilk and hindmilk... When I had dd the mw suggested her colic could be caused by too much foremilk and I should have tried to feed for longer on one side. Is there evidence for this?

tiktok Tue 21-Oct-08 17:15:16

bamboo, the link between foremilk and colic was first made when it was routine for babies to breastfeed 10 minutes on each side, whether or not the baby showed signs of wanting to swap.

Yes, it is possible that babies taken off too soon like this might well have ingested less fatty milk, and could have done with being 'allowed' to decide for themselves how long to stay on the first side for.

So as a 'treatment' for colic, deliberately avoiding any chance that the baby is being swapped too soon, makes sense....I suppose! These days, timing of feeds like this is (or should not be) common, and you were probably not doing it. But it would have done no harm to experiment a bit

bamboo Tue 21-Oct-08 17:40:29

I think I probably did give some credence to timing of feeds and this was only 6 years ago, before I discovered mumsnet. I've no idea where I picked up that info - perhaps from stuff I'd read or from my mum. I suppose as a clueless first time mum it seemed more reassuring than just taking a lead from my baby. It certainly wouldn't occur to me to worry about it now. Thanks for info. Sorry for hijack nickymorris smile.

NellyTheElephant Tue 21-Oct-08 18:22:07

I would definitely try and get in the habit of offering both breasts at a feed, they will get into a pattern of producing the right amount of milk in the right balance if you offer both breasts - it's amazing how your body works it out.

My reason for offering both is mainly for your own comfort. As the baby gets older and takes more at each feed and the frequency of feeds reduces you can find yourself becoming extremely uncomfortable and huge on one side if you are only offering alternate breasts. E.g. my experience with DD1, once she was 3 months ish she fed approx 4 times a day and slept through 12 hours a night. If I fed at 7am from the right breast the next feed from that breast wouldn't be until about 2pm when I'd be exploding and in pain. As for the final evening feed, if I didn't give her both breasts then there was no way I could cope until morning. So I started offering both at each feed and this soon solved the problem. Initially I had to stop feeding on one side a bit sooner than usual so she'd still be hungry enough to take the other side, which resulted in a day or two of her having greenish poo until my breasts got used to it and my supply adjusted.

With DD2 I offered both breasts from day 1 and always felt much more comfortable as neither breast was ever so hugely full and I never got lopsided breasts!

katylou25 Tue 21-Oct-08 18:43:27

I always fed from both breast with both my boys - they were big boys (9lb 9 and 9lb) and would cry at the end of one breast for more. I found if they fell asleep on the 1st they'd be awake within the hour screaming for food so obviously needed more. Particuarly with the evening feed I would feed one breast, change them to wake them then feed the other which I meant that they woould then sleep a lot longer throught the night. I generally found with feeding both sides at once they would go 3-4 hours between feeds, whereas feeding one side at atime would want feeding hourly - greedy little mites!

Agree witht hte comfort side of things as well definatley makes a difference to how you feel and the lopsided appearance!

nickymorris Tue 21-Oct-08 19:14:49

Hmm - hadn't considered that - only at 9 weeks at the moment so isn't really a consideration for me ....yet! Will bear in mind :-)

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Tue 21-Oct-08 20:02:40

I think you are overthinking things and trying to engineer stuff when you don't need to because your body does it for you. My DS will always have a suck from boob 2 if he's come off boob 1 by his own accord - but he's a slow gaining baby so I try to feed him up as much as poss.

ilovetochat Tue 21-Oct-08 20:05:56

dd is 15 months and has only ever fed off one side, they are all different. smile

nickymorris Tue 21-Oct-08 22:02:02

DS wont normally take anything from boob 2 - he'd rather chew away on the one he's 'warmed up'...

Off to dreamfeed now - see y'all tomorrow

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