Uneven Milk Supply: Should I Be Concerned?

January 12, 2012
Uneven Milk Supply: Should I Be Concerned?

No person is perfectly symmetrical, so it’s no surprise that many breastfeeding moms report uneven milk supply. This is very common, and if you and your baby are comfortable, there’s no reason to try to change it. However, some moms prefer to even things out to relieve discomfort and make feeding more effective for baby. So, let us walk you though some of the causes of uneven milk supply and how to restore balance.

Causes

  • Typical Anatomic Differences. It’s very common for mothers to have different sized breasts and milk ducts. This can lead to variations in supply and breast appearance.
  • Forceful or Weak Letdown. It’s also possible that you may have one breast with a more or less forceful letdown than the other. A forceful letdown could be overwhelming to your little one, causing them to pull away from the breast and prefer the other side. Likewise, a less forceful letdown could be frustrating to a hungry belly. To help your little one nurse on the less forceful side, do breast compressions to increase the flow while feeding.
  • Baby’s Preference. Some babies may, quite simply, just prefer one breast over the other. It may be more comfortable to them, or just easier for them to latch. If your baby refuses one breast, ask your doctor to do a thorough physical exam to check for birth injuries or an ear infection. This discomfort could cause your little one to reject certain nursing positions or breasts.
  • Mother’s Preference. Many moms may unknowingly prefer feeding from one breast and spend significantly more time with baby latched on that side. Some moms may prefer holding their little one with their dominant arm or having that arm free to do other things.
  • Breast Injury or Surgery. If you’ve ever had breast surgery or an injury to your breast tissue, your supply and milk flow could be affected. If you think this is the case, consider reaching out to a Lactation Consultant to help you and your baby nurse comfortably from that side.

Restoring Balance

  • Begin feedings on the less productive smaller side. Babies tend to nurse more vigorously at the beginning of a feeding, so start with the less productive smaller side to help increase milk production.
  • Nurse on the smaller side more often during each feeding. Nursing frequently is key to increasing and maintaining supply, so start pumping from your less productive smaller side more often. However, be sure not to neglect the larger breast. Decreasing the time you spend nursing on that side could lead to engorgement, plugged ducts or mastitis.
  • Pump on the less productive smaller side after feedings. At the end of your normal feedings, continue to pump for a few additional minutes, and store that milk for later use.
  • Pump in between feedings. If you can, try to add  a few extra pumping sessions throughout the day, in between your normal feedings. Consider using a hands-free breastpump so you can multi-task while pumping.
  • Use new tactics to encourage feeding on the less preferred breast. There are ways to begin to change your baby’s preferences. Start by trying new nursing positions on the less productive smaller breast, because a new position could bring added comfort to feeding on that side. Also, try offering the less preferred breast when your baby is drowsy. They may be less aware and more willing to feed on that side.

Most moms will begin to notice changes 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.

Moms, did you notice differences in breast size and supply? Did you make adjustments in your feeding habits to try to even things out? Share your experiences in the comments below.

64 thoughts on “Uneven Milk Supply: Should I Be Concerned?

  1. Hi Iam breastfeeding my child, she is 7 months old and I have very little supply of milk from day 1. So Iam mixed feeding . Even though I give very little milk my breast size still don’t reduce at all. Can I know the reason for it

    • Hi Anusha – don’t worry, you’re doing a great job and there are several measures that moms can take to increase breastmilk supply. First off, know that the average breastfeeding mom can pump between one and three oz. per pumping session (not per breast, per session). Here’s a link to our blog with various tips to help increase supply: http://bit.ly/187ZXnw. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact our Lactation Consultant: http://bit.ly/ask_lc. Keep up the good work!

  2. i have a 6 mth old and my left breast is big and my right is small.I do use the left one more.But really want my right boob to catch up.He feeds on it for a little bit but gets abit fustrated ive bought a pump put cant do it on my right side but my left filled up the bottle.please help me as i really want to breastfeed on both.

    • Hi Danielle – Our Lactation Consultant would be happy to help figure out what’s causing these issues and get this resolved for you: bitly.com/askthelc. Keep up the good work!

  3. My baby is just 18 days old. She’s s fussy feeding on left side. Also I myself feel very less on that side. Various websites says your supply will increase if you pump. I’m afraid if she’ll not have enough for her next feed if I pump. What should I do?

    • Hi – Some babies just prefer one breast over the other. It may be more comfortable to them, or just easier for them to latch. If your baby refuses one breast, ask your doctor to do a thorough physical exam to check for birth injuries or an ear infection. This discomfort could cause your little one to reject certain nursing positions or breasts. If you have any questions about uneven supply, our Lactation Consultant would be happy to help: bitly.com/askthelc. We hope this helps!

  4. I’ve a 9 month old and I only breast feed now for the 3am feed but have only used my left to breastfeed since he was about 3 weeks old, at first it was accidental but by the time I realised it was too late, I now have one breast that is about an F cup and the other is a small D :( am I stuck like this or will it even out any more when I completely stop breastfeeding? Bra’s are now a nightmare as none fit at all :(

  5. Hi! I have a 1 month old baby, he is not so good in latching on my breast that’s why I decided to pump every 3-4hrs every single day. My breast on left side is smaller and makes 70mls every 10mins of pumping, but the right side is bigger and only make 5-10mls every 10mins of pumping. I’ve been taking medicine for a week now that’s prescripted by my doctor but It’s been a month now since my baby was born but still the milk supply is not even… Could you tell me what’s going on?

    • Hi – Try always pumping on your smaller side first. Pumping frequently is key to increasing and maintaining supply, so start pumping from your less productive smaller side more often. However, be sure not to neglect the larger breast. Decreasing the time you spend nursing on that side could lead to engorgement, plugged ducts or mastitis. They should even out soon. If you’re still having trouble after a few weeks, our Lactation Consultant would be happy to help: bitly.com/askthelc. Keep up the good work, mama!

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