How Long Should I Breastfeed on Each Breast?

  1. Alternate and Time

    • Traditional thought on the subject is that to keep an equal amount of milk in each breast, you should alternate breasts during feeding and time your baby on each side. Newborn babies can nurse between five and 10 minutes on each breast about every two to three hours. At one-month-old, your baby may nurse 20 to 40 minutes per breast every three to four hours. By the time your baby is six months old he may nurse for 20 to 40 minutes on each breast three to five times per day.

    One at a Time

    • Some lactation specialists recommend nursing on one breast per feeding and switching breasts for the following feeding. This method of nursing allows your baby to get more of the fattier milk during a nursing session. Diana West, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, explains that the first milk expressed from the breast called foremilk is a more watery version than the milk that follows after several minutes. That milk is called hindmilk and is a higher fat milk that is better for your baby's growth and brain development.

    Bottom Line

    • As long as you are doing what is comfortable for both you and your baby you may choose timing and alternating between breasts during nursing or nursing your baby on just one breast per feeding. Provided you are feeding your baby enough, pediatricians support either method.

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  • Photo Credit newborn image by Valentin Mosichev from

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