What Causes Uneven Breast Milk Supply? (And How to Restore Balance)

January 25, 2017
What Causes Uneven Breast Milk Supply? (And How to Restore Balance)

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. In fact, there may not be anything you can do about an uneven supply. However, some moms may wish to even things out to relieve discomfort and make feeding more effective.

Causes

  • It’s common for moms to have different sized breasts and milk ducts, leading to variations in supply.
  • 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. 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.
  • If you’ve had breast surgery or an injury to your breast tissue, your supply could be affected.

Restoring Balance

  • Because babies tend to nurse more vigorously at the beginning of a feeding, begin feedings on the less productive side.
  • 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 on the lower-producing side to help increase flow.
  • Pump on the less productive side after feedings and in between your normal feedings.
  • Use tactics to encourage feeding 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 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.

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