Is it good, or safe, to be breastfeeding with just one breast?

"I breastfeed my son with ONE breast from the time he was 3 months to date."
"I breastfeed my son with ONE breast from the time he was 3 months to date."

We recently received a letter from one of our readers who’s been breastfeeding her baby for 16 months. Of course, we always encourage our readers to breastfeed for as long as possible – or at the very least exclusively for the first six months – but we’ve never heard of someone doing so, for as long, with only one breast…

“I gave birth to Katlego, in June 2017. He’s almost 16 months, and yes, I’m still breastfeeding to date.
My very unbelievable story: I took 6 months for my maternity, of which two months were unpaid. I really wanted to breastfeed as long as I could. I went back to work in Jan 2018, then I expressed during the day, not an easy task. I breastfeed my son with ONE breast from the time he was 3 months to date. Who does that, right? Why not stop?

I am left handed, therefore, it was easier for me to carry him on my left side, which resulted in the right breast less stimulated, eventually it gave up on us.

The worst part: My son refused to take formula, so the cow had to continuously produce. It's been the most physically, emotionally depressing thing I've ever had to do in my entire life so far.

Mothers should try not to make this mistake, as it’s really costly to your body. I constantly need to take vitamins just to stay afloat.
The big question is, “Why are you still doing this?” The answer: “I was given an opportunity to be a Goddess, and I’m using it." 
– Thandi

We commend Thandi for continuing to breastfeed her little one, but we too imagined that doing so with only one breast may be physically draining. We also wondered if it was even physically possible? Is it safe? Is there a right way to breastfeed?

We contacted Dr Esmé Hough, chair for The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) and La Leche League Leader, who answered a few of our questions and explained the stages involved in our body’s production of milk.

Do you have a question about breastfeeding you'd like answered? Send it to and we can have an expert weigh in. 

How do our bodies produce milk?

"The production of milk is called Lactogenesis and there are 3 stages," explains Dr Hough. 

"Stages 1: between mid-pregnancy and two days after the birth of your baby. Mom's breasts may feel swollen; this is because of the alveoli that have started to produce colostrum.

"Stage 2: between day 3 and day 8. The alveoli cells become closed and tightly spaced and increase the production of lactose, glucose, and milk lipids, while the production of protein, sodium, chloride, nitrogen and magnesium decreases. During stage 2, the breasts may feel warm and may become engorged, most often because the breasts are not drained frequently enough. 

"Stage 3: the production and maintenance of mature milk from day 9 postpartum, until the weaning of baby." 

Milk production is controlled by the endocrine system, and hormones play a big role.

How much does baby need to drink per day?

Between 2 and 3 weeks, a baby normally drinks 59 to 89ml per feeding, 450 to 750ml per day. From about 5 weeks until 6 months, a baby drinks 89 to 148ml per feeding (750 to 1 035ml per day)."

So how exactly should women be breastfeeding? Should we be alternating between breasts? How often?

“The more frequently the breasts are emptied, the more milk will be produced. Milk production relies on the supply-and-demand principle. Each breast functions independently, meaning that if mom breastfeeds more from one breast, that breast will produce more milk than the other.

To establish a good milk supply in both would mean stimulating and emptying each breast. If only one breast is emptied, the milk supply in the other would dwindle and eventually that breast would stop producing milk.”

Is it good, or safe, to just be breastfeeding with one breast? What may happen if you do? How does it affect mommy and baby?

“Many mothers are able to successfully breastfeed from just one breast. The only problem is a cosmetic one (being lob-sided).”

What can Thandi do now to help her situation for both her and baby?

“If the mother would like to start producing milk from her other breast, she can start expressing and/or feeding from that breast. Most likely her milk supply would gradually increase. This mother is giving her baby the best by providing breastmilk for him.

“And it is great that the mother is working and breastfeeding. She is indeed a goddess.”

Do you have a question about breastfeeding you'd like answered? Send it to and we can have an expert weigh in. 

Read more about breastfeeding here:

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