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.


  • 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.

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

    • Hi Christina – There are several different factors that can alter your supply, including your baby’s preference and your body’s needs. Here are more reasons why you may be experiencing an uneven supply and some tips on how to resolve this: http://bit.ly/xtJoFL. Our Lactation Consultant would be happy to provide further guidance: bitly.com/askthelc. We hope this helps!

  1. Hi, my baby is a week old and yesterday I noticed that my right breast hasn’t hard spots in it, in comparison to my left and is a lot bigger. I’ve been alternating breast through our feedings and always starting in the breast that she would finish feeding on. I haven’t used a pump yet and I don’t know which one I should pump or when, please help.

    • Hi Rheanne – We recommend pumping on the side that isn’t producing as much milk and emptying that breast. Then, you can move onto your other breast. This will hopefully even out your supply. Our Lactation Consultant would be happy to provide further guidance: http://bit.ly/askthelc

  2. My 3 1/2 month old has caught on that I first fred her from the side that has a slower let-down and produces less milk. Because of that, for the last two days she eats just fine in the morning (when I have a build-up over-night supply in both sides), but with every subsequent feeding, she screams and pulls off the slower breast. After a while of her screams, I finally gave in and fed her on the fuller side, where she latches and sucks down the milk, no problem. I’ve been trying to pump in between feedings, but it takes a while for my flat nipple to get stimulated enough for a let-down. I get less than 1/3 of the amount of milk I can get from the other side. I understand why my baby doesn’t like this side, but she refuses to latch on and do the work as long as it takes to produce milk on that side. Help!

    • Hi Missy – So sorry to hear that you’re dealing with this! As long as you continue to pump your slower breast, it should restore more balance between both of them. Hopefully this will help your little one latch better. Our Lactation Consultant should be able to help provide more suggestions and tips on how to get a better latch: http://bit.ly/AskTheLC. Keep up the good work, mama!

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