Uneven Supply: Less Milk Production in One Breast
All moms are different – and so are breasts! No person is perfectly symmetrical, so it’s no surprise that many breastfeeding moms find they have uneven milk supply, or less milk production in one breast than the other. This is very common, and if you and your baby are comfortable, there’s no reason to try to change it. In fact, there may not be anything you can do about an uneven supply. However, if you have uneven milk supply and want to even things out to relieve discomfort and make feeding more effective, check out the tips and information below.
Milk Making Tissue
It’s common for moms to have different amounts of milk-making tissue and different sized milk ducts in each breast, so one breast naturally produces more than the other.
Differences in Letdown
It’s possible to have one breast with a more or less forceful letdown than the other. A forceful letdown could cause your baby to pull away from the breast and prefer the other side, causing an uneven milk supply. And a less forceful letdown could be frustrating for a hungry belly.
Some babies prefer one breast over the other. It may be more comfortable or easier for them to latch. If you think there is a physical reason your infant seems to prefer one side, ask your doctor to do a thorough physical exam to check for birth injuries or an ear infection that could cause your baby to reject certain nursing positions or prefer a certain breast.
Many moms unknowingly prefer feeding from one breast and spend more time nursing on that side.
Previous Breast Trauma
If you’ve had breast surgery or an injury to your breast tissue, your supply could be affected.
Some of the issues above, like how much milk-making tissue a mom has, can't be changed. But these tips may help make your supply more even:
Start on your slow side
Because babies tend to nurse more vigorously at the beginning of a feeding, begin feedings on the less productive side to encourage it to build a higher supply for future feedings.
And favor it throughout
Nurse on the lower-producing side more often during each feeding. Nursing frequently is key to increasing supply. However, be sure not to neglect the higher-producing breast as that could lead to engorgement, plugged ducts, or mastitis.
Try massaging your breast from the base towards the nipple on the lower-producing side to help increase flow.
Pump it up
When there is less milk production in one breast, pump on the less productive side after feedings and in between your normal feedings. Remember, when it comes to breastfeeding, demand=supply!
Work with baby
Use tactics to encourage baby to feed on the less preferred breast, such as trying new nursing positions, which could bring added comfort to feeding on that side. Or try offering the less preferred breast when your baby is drowsy and more willing to feed on that side.
Most moms will begin to notice changes to an uneven milk supply in 3 to 5 days, but remember to be patient. Adjusting any behavior can take some time, so praise your little one when he or she nurses well and keep trying.