Q: I am nursing my 3-month-old daughter and she will only nurse from one breast for about two to three minutes and then she is done. Is this normal?
A: Nancy Snyderman, M.D., F.A.C.S: When it comes to breastfeeding, normal can vary. It is very normal for a nursing mother, especially a first-time mother, to worry that her baby is not adequately nourished. Many experts say you should nurse at baby’s demand for at least 10 to 15 minutes per side. But some babies nurse more efficiently, getting more milk in less time. It is possible that your daughter is nursing more frequently to compensate for the shorter periods at the breast.
Does your daughter use a pacifier? A recent study found that babies who are given pacifiers tend to nurse less often and for shorter periods.
The key here is whether your daughter is healthy and thriving. If her pediatrician says she is growing and doing well, I would not worry about this. On the other hand, if she is not thriving or you feel your milk supply is inadequate, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant about techniques to improve nursing habits. Whatever you do, do not give up on breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that babies nurse for at least a year, with breast milk serving as their exclusive food source for about the first six months.