How to Decide Which Breast to Offer

Photo by Icaro Mendes on

Most new nursing moms try to nurse on one breast, then switch to the other breast at the next feeding. This system works, but is it the best?

Honestly, I won’t tell you what system is best- it’s not my thing. I prefer to offer you options to try to find which you like best. So that’s the purpose of this post- to offer another option.

When you think about mealtime, specifically a meal in a restaurant, you can easily imagine the system I’m teaching you. The beginning of this process starts with “bread, appetizers” or the first part of the meal- usually when you are MOST hungry- you barely taste the first few bites because you’re just wanting to get it in your tummy as fast possible. The same idea applies to a baby, just woken from a sleep and ready to eat! That baby is going to swallow fast, trying to get as much in his belly as he can in the shortest amount of time. Once he starts to feel less empty, he will slow down, and may even need to be burped if he’s taken in much air. If baby begins squirming at your breast after the initial let down happens- try burping him to see if he just needs to let out some air. Often when we’ve sucked down a full glass of soda and eaten 3 dinner rolls, we will need to burp ourselves (ever so politely behind out napkins of course.)

After the baby’s slowed down, perhaps has had a burp, it’s time for the main course- this is on the SAME breast that you’ve just given him his starter on. Baby will drink deeply and slowly at this point, drifting in and out of that euphoric baby “milk drunk” phase. At the point that baby becomes satisfied, he will pop off the breast, full and happy. This is the best time to change a diaper (although you might wait, as I’ve noticed babies tend to poop just about 10 minutes after a feed,) burp baby, and play with your baby. This is that “quiet alert state” that parents are told about.

After a bit of play time, with a dry diaper your baby will start to show signs of overstimulation, fussiness or sleepiness. At this point it’s time for DESSERT!! Yes, you are going to offer your tiny baby a dessert. Using the OTHER breast, you nurse the baby until s/he dozes right back off into dreamland. Super simple, the dessert course works as a top-off, a final bite before finishing the meal experience.

Then when the baby wakes again, ready to feed- you’ll offer him/her the starter course on the breast that was the dessert breast last time. Does that make sense?? Hang on, I’ll draw a picture….

That’s it!! Starter, Main Course, Dessert. I’ve been told this technique makes breastfeeding so much smoother for mom and baby! It helps your baby to be able to pop off and on the breast, burping and taking a break when his/her body naturally feel the need to. It also helps to relieve pressure on the other breast at each feeding, so that you aren’t always terribly lopsided!! If you’re worried about latching baby on and off repeatedly, check out my post about how to get a great latch at:


Published by nurtureyoudoula

I'm a mother of 3, married to Brian, and a postpartum doula in Southern Indiana. I enjoy blogging, painting/drawing, Bible Journaling and taking naps.

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