Q&A: One side is tastier than the other

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Lisa writes:

"So this must be an odd question because I can't seem to find much ofanything about it anywhere online. The problem I'm having is that my
daughter (15mo.) is pretty much refusing to eat from my left breast.
The right one is fine and dandy, but she'll only nibble on the left
then back away and shake her head no. And I think the issue is that the
two taste different. Maybe this is gross to some people but I tasted a
drop from each breast and the right one is sweet as expected but the
left was kind of sour or salty. I couldn't tell exactly from the little
dribble on my finger but it was definitely different, and not in a good
way.

Do you know why this might be happening or what to do about it? I'm
stumped. I'm not pregnant (no chance), I started my period 2 months ago
and the timing kinda fits but not exactly, I don't think I've changed
anything in my diet, and I haven't been taking anything new other than
fish oil… and the timing might fit but why would it only affect one
breast? Any ideas Moxie?"

Yeah, I have no idea, but I do know this preference for one side over the other is not odd or unusual at all. It happened for awhile with my older son, and each of my boys showed a strong preference for one side over the other for periods of time.

(My first son liked my left breast better than my right for awhile, and I was convinced it was because I'm overwhelmingly right-handed, so maybe the right side tasted more gamey or something, like the difference between light meat and dark meat. Ah, sleep deprivation…)

I don't think there really is anything to be done about it, except to file it in the "Bodies Are Strange" file. At this age you don't need to be worried about your production, so you'll adjust and your right breast will produce what she needs. The biggest problem will be that your right breast might be larger than your left one until you wean. But since almost everyone is a little mismatched anyway…

Does anyone know why this happens, or have any stories, or remember where my original post was about this? I know I've written on this exact question before, but just couldn't find it.

49 thoughts on “Q&A: One side is tastier than the other”

  1. My 22 month old prefers the left breast as this is the one that has more milk (she too takes a few sucks out of the right one and then tells me she wants the ‘udder one'(hee hee, she does actually say that, really)).It seems strange that the milk would taste different from the other boob, unless there is a problem with the breast itself, maybe a blockage in one of the ducts or yeast infection or something like that that may make that milk taste differently.

  2. I have a 2 year old (25 months, I guess?). He still nurses.However, he also talks, so I’ve asked him. He will drink from the left side, but after a few drinks wants the “other side.” I’ve been known to bribe him (if you want the other side, you have to nurse more from this side). After a bit of that he just gets up, crawls over me and helps himself.
    From what i gather, there’s just MORE milk on one side then the other now. I don’t think it’s a taste thing, at least, not for me. It could also be a position thing (we always nurse in bed lying down, so maybe he prefers to lay on his left side, instead of his right side).

  3. I have no idea about taste, but I have to do some serious bargaining to get my son (2 1/2) to take my right breast. (I nurse largely in bed–first thing in the morning and before nap.) He wants the left because that’s the bed position he prefers!If I make him take the right, he’ll nurse for just a minute, declare he’s done, and clamber over me to the other side. If he really isn’t done, then he asks to nurse on the left.
    It’s not unusual for moms to have different production on a side–and for babies to have a preference.

  4. You know, my 8 month old prefers the right, particularly when it comes to nursing him down for naps. It’s really strange, because I thought this was our own odd little ritual. He’s the world shittiest sleeper, but the right side seems to soothe him better. Maybe it’s the way he settles on my lap while nursing, maybe the angle is somehow different on the right as opposed to the left.

  5. Is this the post you were thinking of Moxie?http://www.askmoxie.org/2007/05/qa_milk_drying_.html
    My son had a strong preference for one breast over the other and by 4 months of age I was pretty much feeding from the left side only. I don’t remember clearly but I have a feeling that the taste/quality of the milk was different on the slower/less preferred breast. I just chalked it up to the taste of a drying out breast. Is it possible that the taste is actually caused by the preference rather than the other way around?
    Looking back, I wish I had persevered with the less favoured side as soon as the preference started rearing its head. Instead I just fed off the easy side because I didn’t want to deal with all the fussing which meant my supply on the less favoured side dwindled which meant more fussing until he refused that side entirely. I was able to feed off one breast for months and months no problem but, as Moxie said, I was pretty lopsided. Things went back to normal after weaning.
    x

  6. i have a 14 month old, and for the past few months i’ve just fed him on my right boob. i started doing this because it always produced more and as my overall production has been decreasing ever since he started really digging solids (i’ve been gradually weaning and am down to once a day) the left boob just got really uninteresting/frustrating for him. i haven’t had any problem, other than, initially, serious lopsidedness, which is now minimal. i like the fact that now i only have to worry about one boob with respect to nipple irritation or blockages.

  7. I think that supply/flow might be the issue. I had one breast where the milk would spurt out and the other was just normal. Both my kids would freak out when confronted with the volume of milk coming out of my spurty boob so the preference just developed from there. I imagine that flow would definitely affect taste…

  8. My daughter always preferred one side over the other too. My doula told me that French women refer to the favored side as the “chocolate breast.” I think that this would be a great name for a lactation consulting business–

  9. I vote with the supply/production is different. I know I got more foremilk from one side than the other, took longer to get to the hindmilk. Since the blend makes them taste different, that could be part of it. I also got more forceful ejection/letdown on one side, at a different time. Early on, my kids tended to drown on the left side – it was uncomfortable for them, until they learned to manage it (and I got my supply down to where it should be).Other things that play a role:
    1) ear infections or teething pain can make it uncomfortable to nurse on one side.
    2) even mild torticolus (sp?) – the turn of the head to one side due to muscle spasm or tightness – can make it uncomfortable to be on one side.
    3) eye strength and brain ‘sidedness’ – there was some study that showed that the emotional facial feedback comes in more clearly from one direction than the other (due to the side of eye communicating to side of brain), so it could either be overwhelming, or irritating (depending on which side is which for them, and what they want out of the nursing session, etc – and some people have the sides of brain reversed, not common, but happens).
    Anyway, definitely when I pumped, I got different amounts and different proportions of fore and hind milk on the two sides. With the twins, I swapped sides on them every other day, so that neither was stuck with one ratio all the time. With the older two, I just kept swapping them, even if it made them grumpy, but found that once I learned about block feeding, the degree of grumpy improved. Oh, and it was really important on that side to have NO head-turn involved. Absolute tummy-to-tummy, face foward into the bb. The right side, I could be more sloppy on positioning without trouble.
    My little sister found that nursing upright (baby vertical, either reclined back or sitting upright with an older baby) helped reduce resistance – her babies just did NOT like to be tipped that direction, but would nurse vertical. And I knew someone … SIL maybe? who did football hold on the ‘off’ side. Can’t recall for sure.
    The only other thing I could think of is the excess enzyme thing, which makes for more sour tasting milk, but you’d have to pump both sides and compare after storing to see if for some reason one side produces more enzyme than the other. Most likely it is just the ratios differ for foremilk/hindmilk, but if production of milk can differ, I suppose production of enzyme can, too.
    Either way, you can definitely support a baby with one side. If people can nurse twins, you can nurse one, one-sided. It’s just convenient to have both, not required.

  10. This doesn’t relate that well to your situation but just wanted to add that I’m another one who ended up feeding my baby exclusively on one side for the last month or 2 before he weaned completely. My little boy didn’t really indicate a preference for that side. I just did it because I had more milk on that side and it was somehow easier just to stick to the one side. Surprisingly, I wasn’t really lopsided.I concur with Jilly and Paola’s points:
    -perhaps taste is caused by preference rather than the other way around
    -perhaps something like a blockage could be causing a taste difference.

  11. The comment about “salty” rings my alarm bells. If this is a new situation (rejection of the breast), it could be that she has a plugged duct or mild mastitis. Do you feel run down? Have a sore spot? Whenever I get a plugged duct/mastitis, my milk gets really salty on that side – the infection causes sodium levels to rise in the affected breast. If this sounds familiar, the first line of defense is to pump and massage the breast in question. A LOT. And check out kellymom for mastitis remedies.. And if you really feel like you have the flu, go see your doctor – it’s your boob that’s the problem.If it’s a garden variety rejection and you just happen to have different tasting milk on one side, the way I overcame this was to refuse to roll over at night. Since we cosleep and the baby nurses at night, I just stayed on the same side (the one he didn’t like) all night. It helped to increase the supply on that side, and got him over some of his preference.

  12. As others have said, everything is probably fine, but um… and there’s no way to put this gently… Lisa needs to be checked out by a real doctor because this happened to a friend of mine and it was breast cancer.http://toddlerplanet.wordpress.com/
    She had other symptoms, too, which aren’t mentioned by the writer, but just in case… Since the tastes are actually different (I’ve tasted mine, too, by the way)… I think she needs to get checked out, just to rule it out.
    My kids have both preferred my left breast, because I’m right handed and *I* preferred nursing them on the left, but not to the point of turning away from the right when it’s offered. That’s the part of her question that’s worrying me.
    I’m sure it’s going to be fine, and I’m not trying to be alarmist or scare anyone, because I know that side preference IS normal… But just to be on the cautious side, Lisa, call your doctor.
    Hugs,
    Amy

  13. Not sure if this info helps, since it’s not exactly the same situation, and I have no idea if taste was involved.I have a 16 month old who has only nursed from the left since she was about 8 weeks old. At first, she’d take either, but I always always felt more awkward managing the floppy newborn and also wrangling my engorged breasts into position. I’m left-handed, so maybe that has something to do with it. We also had latch issues, and so my right was in really bad shape for a few weeks, and I took her off of it to let it heal. When it was healed, she wanted absolutely *nothing* to do with it. Maybe it had to do with tasting the blood she drew a few times (sorry, but I’m sure I’m not the only one).
    In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t kept trying the right side…I had clogged ducts every other day, and didn’t know enough at the time to just pump like crazy; I was afraid of increasing my production, and I was making too much already. I probably could have fed 4 babies with what I produced for the first 16 weeks PP.
    My MW said that lots of babies seem to prefer the left b/c they can hear your heartbeat more clearly.
    One word of warning, although Lisa’s little girl is too old for this problem: my little girl’s head got very flat on one side from always nursing on the left, and we had trouble getting her to lay on the other side, so make sure that you are turning your little one’s head from side to side each time you put them down for a nap. Apparently this was something I was supposed to know, but missed in the child care classes.

  14. I don’t know why a baby may develop a side preference, but I do know that when your supply starts to dry up the milk changes in favor to the sour/salty you describe. I know this from personal experience and then it also was confirmed by my doctor who said the taste change was part of the body’s natural weaning process. My milk takes forever to dry up completely, but it becomes sour/salty pretty quickly after I wean. My son tried to start nursing again at 19 months after quitting at 18 months and told me about the taste change!My guess is that because of the preference issue your body responded on the unfavored side, which made your child like that side less. I am not sure if you can reverse the taste change, but it might not be worth it if you don’t mind nursing on just one side. It sounds like it has worked for many people.

  15. Another (mostly) one sider chiming in…all the pp’s are spot on with the various possible reasons for the preference, so I don’t have anything to add there.Here’s my somewhat related dilemma — the size difference for me is pretty big (at least two cup sizes when the preferred side is full), and I am having a hell of a time finding a bra that fits. I’ve been wearing a sports-bra style since the beginning, but it would be really nice to have something a little lower cut so I can wear a v-neck (I’ve given up on anything close-fitting or horizontally striped since that makes the difference so apparent that I’ve actually had friends comment on it, arggh). What do all of you other lopsided ladies do???

  16. @Righty; If you are so inclined, you can buy these gel “breasts” to put in your bra on the smaller side so it will even you out. Then you can buy a bra to fit your larger side and stuff the smaller side with these things. They sell them all over but you can even find them at Victoria’s Secret stores:http://www2.victoriassecret.com/commerce/onlineProductDisplay.vs?namespace=productDisplay&origin=onlineProductDisplay.jsp&event=display&prnbr=9G-223505&page=1&cgname=OSBRPADHZZZ&rfnbr=5230
    They’re relatively comfortable, a little weird, but they will make you look less lopsided anyway.
    As for the one side v. other, my guy always preferred the right side, I figured this was because I really over-produced on that side and I guess I was right because when he was about 2 and could talk he would ask for “the big one” and head for my right side.

  17. How funny! I was just talking to my 26 month old nursling about this yesterday. it was such a sweet moment. She was nursing and she looked up at me and said, “Mommy! Nursing is making sounds!”I asked her, “What is it saying?”
    “I love youuuuuu…”
    😀
    Then we talked about flavor. According to her, the right side tastes like cookies and the left side tastes like orange juice – later modified to chocolate orange juice, and further the orange smoothies at Costco (from the Vita Mix man).
    Yeah. lol.
    She doesn’t really seem to prefer one side over the other, but maybe that’s because cookies and chocolate and orange juice are all very yummy!!

  18. Just to echo Amy–please please please get it checked by a doctor. As the comments brilliantly show, most of the time when babies have a preference, all is well and it just happened that way for some reason.But every once in a while, the milk tastes funny because something is very, very wrong. Not to be alarmist, but the only way to know is to get checked by a doctor.
    And please let us know when you do!

  19. My theory was that he preferred the right side because I am right-handed, and somehow I held him better on the right side. And then that just made the right side make more milk, which made him prefer it even more.

  20. I agree with all the posters who said the preference caused the taste difference. My milk got salty just after 14 months, so my girl started refusing to nurse. It was salty because it was drying up. I’m not sure why I had such a problem with milk production. I struggled with it from 7 months to 14 months. I wasn’t one of those people who could nurse once or twice a day, and that’s what I was doing by 14 months. At 14 1/2 months, it got salty (bitter, really), and that was it for nursing.

  21. Definitely could be an infection. This happened to me when my son was about 6 weeks old. I got mastititis in my left breast and had to take antibiotics to kill the infection. My midwife told me to keep feeding on the salty side as usual so I wouldn’t get engorged. Good luck!

  22. I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you that feeding a toddler from just one side is okay. After a bout of thrush (11.5 to 12.5 months) and teething molars (12.5 to 13.5 months) my right side was working okay but generally uncomfortable to nurse on. Once DD was down to just 2 nursing sessions a day at 14 months (one on each side), we started nursing from the left side only and let the right side rest and heal.At 21.5 months she’s still nursing just fine from just the left side and my right side is completely back to normal. Occassionally the left side is firmer than the right, but since she’s only nursing 1-2 times a day, there isn’t a big size difference.

  23. Oh my god mine are so lopsided I have to pull one shoulder up if I think people are staring in the general direction of my knockers. They are known as “little lefty” and “big righty”. I naturally had a little size difference but after my daughter it was ridiculous. My boobs don’t look like they belong on the same body, and I pumped mostly with her so neither twin got special treatment. With my son I got mastitis at around 3 weeks pp and it literally ate little lefty which had been producing like a champ until then. Even though I’ve been a stickler with him to take both sides, the left’s supply never came back (he’ll be 1 in a week and a half.) I’ve often wondered if there was a taste difference because he just never seemed to like the left as much but for him it probably had more to do with flow because big righty doesn’t mess around.Also what is this about people’s boobs going back to normal after breast feeding? Mine shriveled up but the size difference was still huge! Are there boob exercises out there that I don’t know about?! (and I’m only kind of joking!)

  24. ITA with Amy – PLEASE go see your doctor immediately. Sorry to be alarmist, but I’m of the “better safe than sorry” school. I also know someone who had a similar issue which turned out to be breast cancer. She was 29 and had no family history of it. She’s now a proud survivor because it was caught so early on.That said, it can also be 100% normal to have a better producing, better tasting, larger b00bie, like my ol’ leftie.

  25. Every woman’s body has a breast with more ducts in it, called a producer side. In some women it’s hardly noticeable but in others it’s more pronounced. The letdown might be faster on the producer side as well.Sometimes when baby is teething they like one side over the other, or when they have an ear infection they don’t like to lie down on the side with the infected ear as well.

  26. Katherine, really? That’s fascinating. I wonder what happens in women with twins. And what’s the other side called?I’m so excited about this. It’s like when I learned there was an inside and an outside on a corn tortilla.

  27. Another story here of my son preferring one side – I did have mastitis but it wasn’t on that side. I just kept offering that side first and it evened out a bit, although he still preferred the one side.I also extended the nursing into the verbal years and my son claimed one side was “comfier” – so there you go.

  28. Re Righty – I use shoulder pads as boob padding until I wean my son, and then hopefully I can gauge whether I need a gel bra insert. But it’s great to know the gel inserts are commonly available!Both my sons nursed exclusively on the left, and when I pumped, I could see why – the right was nearly dry from Day One with both. So though I’m small-breasted to begin with, the difference is obvious. I’ve given up on wearing anything scoopy – or even slightly tight – for the foreseeable future!

  29. Count me in on the lopsided booby brigade. My son initially rejected my left breast, because the letdown was so much faster and more forceful than my right, but once I adjusted the foremilk/hindmilk imbalance with block feeding, he came to favor it so much more than the right.By a year, he refused poor righty altogether. I also used to get 2x the amount of pumped milk from my left as from my right.

  30. I have the same issue with my 12 month old. He prefers my right side over the left. I’ve found that he’s more willing to eat from the left when he’s already sleepy. I usually try and catch him when he first wakes up from nap. I’m still a little lopsided, but it could be worse.

  31. Block feeding is when for x hours, like “the next three hours” you only feed from one side. It helps if you have a baby who’s prone to feeding just the foremilk, getting the sugar rush, and then feeding again in 15 minutes, on and on. It also helps with oversupply.

  32. I just wanted to chime in and say that I too have a “big boobie” (as my 2 year old and now my 16 month old call it). It’s larger even when I am not nursing but when I am it’s visibly larger…I have pictures from my daughter’s baptism that are hilarious!

  33. If one side tastes salty what about an infection? That would cause a taste difference!!!! I would have it checked to be sure – to me, better safe than sorry if it is an infection!And no, don’t think it is weird to taste your milk at all – in fact I tend to eject/squirt across a room – have it dribble down my body, etc. so I sometimes have to suck it off my hands if I forget the towel … maybe that is weird??? LOL.

  34. Interesting!For about the first 12 months I religiously alternated which breast my twins nursed on. Then I got sick of keeping track and decided to ‘assign’ breasts. One twin is definitely less of a nurser (@ 20 months), and production on his side is less. In our case I’m pretty sure it was his reduced interest that triggered the decrease in production, and not the other way around. Maybe I’ll do a taste test, or try swapping them to see what they think.
    Paola- Udder side! Hilarious!

  35. When my daughter was nursing, her preference was for righty, but now DS’s preference is for lefty.Thank you for explaining block feeding — I was wondering, too.
    @Moxie — Totally O/T, but there’s an inside and an outside to a tortilla? How do you tell which is which and does it make a difference if you use one inside-out?

  36. Haven’t had a chance to read all the posts, but this happened to a good friend of mine. It was a supply issue, she wasn’t producing as much in one breast. She started taking the herbs for increasing supply, fenugreek and ? (can’t remember the other one!). Her supply went up and the problem went away. Keep trying because you probably don’t want to just feed from one side or you will be forever lopsided!!

  37. From birth my girl preferred the left side to my right. Now that I’m weaning her, my “girls” are finally back to the same size!

  38. Cobblestone brings up block feeding, and I’m wondering now if I should have stopped my one-side-at-a-time feedings when my oversupply finally regulated at 9 mos? Kid doesn’t seem to care, so I haven’t bothered.@OP: Horrifyingly, my first thought was the one offered by Amy et alia, and I must urge you to see a doctor. The worst that happens is you get a painful bit of probing and an all clear, right?

  39. A perfect post to send a BIG THANK YOU to all of you who helped my niece with her breast feeding and antibiotics dilemma. Today she reported that things seem like they are back to normal. She has successfully stopped and restarted breast feeding. THANKS again for all the tips.

  40. I also know someone whose daughter found breast cancer at eleven months–mom is now a survivor. Please do go in to get that small possibility ruled out.@Righty, my fix these days is a layering tee.
    @Nancy, no reason to stop nursing one side/session if it’s working for both of you–letting the child finish one side before offering the other is what you should be doing in most cases, anyway.
    Moxie, now I’m curious about tortilla sides!

  41. Maybe I should read the comments, but I just had to add that this happened to me and I have no idea why. We still nursed successfully until my son was 35 months.

  42. Another commenter who feels obligated to say…Please go get your breasts checked. It is really unlikely to be anything serious, but better safe than sorry.

  43. I just kept swapping them, even if it made them grumpy, but found that once I learned about block feeding, the degree of grumpy improved. Oh, and it was really important on that side to have NO head-turn involved. Absolute tummy-to-tummy, face foward into the bb. The right side, I could be more sloppy on positioning without trouble.

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