During the summer I was breastfeeding my first daughter, I had a serious bathing suit challenge: one of my breasts had completely stopped producing any milk, and you could sort of tell. Here’s a pic; bet you can’t guess which one the dud was:
Apparently, I’m not alone. Almost 75% of all moms produce more milk in their right breast, and when we did our own survey recently, 3 out of 5 of our participants also reported that their right breast was the leading producer.
Why is it so common for one breast – typically the right one – to outperform the other one? We have two of them; shouldn’t they carry equal weight?
Reasons for Unequal Breast Milk Supply
Your favorite side: Depending on whether you’re right- or left-handed, you likely favor your dominant side when holding your baby to breastfeed. It’s just natural. I know I always felt most comfortable when I held my daughters in the crook of my right arm. As you know by now, breast milk works via supply and demand, so the more often your baby feeds from one side, the more milk that side will have.
Baby’s favorite side: Just as you have a favorite side, your baby likely has one, too. He might prefer one breast over the other because it has more milk, he’s more comfortable, or the sky is bluer on that side. Who knows. The point is, sometimes your baby clearly prefers one side or may even refuse the other side, making it difficult to treat them evenly.
Weak or strong letdown: One reason your baby may prefer one side over the other is if that side has letdown issues. If you have a weak letdown, it will be difficult and frustrating for the baby to get the milk he so desperately wants. On the other hand, if you have a strong letdown, it can be overwhelming, and the baby might choke on the huge amounts of milk coming at him. Either way, if one breast has letdown issues, it could be why your baby doesn’t prefer that side.
Your feeding routine: If you always start your nursing sessions on the same side and then switch to the other side halfway through, it’s likely that the side you start with will have more milk. Alternatively, if you try to feed entirely from one breast for each nursing session, but don’t have a reliable way to track which breast you fed from last time, you may be disproportionately feeding from one side.
Maybe one of these things is happening, or maybe a few of them are – and over time, you end up producing more milk on one side and get lopsided breasts.
So how do you fix it?
5 Steps to Correct When One Breast Produces More Milk Than The Other
1. Awareness is everything. The first step to successful change is always admitting there’s a problem, right? Even just being aware that you and/or your baby favor one side is a start to correcting the issue.
2. Adjust your routine. Start every nursing session on your weaker side and try to keep your baby there as long as possible. Once your weaker breast is producing the same amount (or close) as the other side, alternate your feeding sessions evenly – either by feeding from one breast for an entire nursing session or making sure you alternate which side you start on. Nursing reminder bracelets can help you keep track of this.
3. Help your breast out. Especially if you have a weak letdown, adding a hot towel or a warm compress on the top of your breast while baby is feeding can help. You can also try massaging it gently. This may not work the first time, but keep at it.
4. Fill your body with goodness. Guzzle as much water as your bladder will hold, eat leafy greens and other healthy foods, and try boosting your supply with lactation supplements or lactation cookies.
5. Pump it up. If your baby refuses to nurse from your weak side, you may need to start pumping on that side only. Continue to offer the weak breast to your baby, though, and hopefully he’ll come around to it eventually – especially if your efforts start to pay off and the breast produces more milk.
Above all, be patient and persistent with this process. It won’t happen overnight. Also realize that if it doesn’t happen, you can successfully breastfeed a baby from one breast, although it’s probably not your preferred situation. I personally didn’t have the patience to correct my lopsidedness, which is how I ended up with one breast three times the size of the other one. The good news is I learned from my mistakes and was able to get a more even production with my second daughter. Practice makes perfect!
About Katie Stansberry
Katie Stansberry is a work-from-home mom of two sweet girls and the creator of Breastfeeding Bliss. After struggling at the beginning of her breastfeeding journey, she wanted to create a happy place where breastfeeding moms could find practical tips, positive inspiration, and the newest and best breastfeeding products. On her "Back to Bliss" breastfeeding blog, she shares her personal stories and tips for making breastfeeding an easier and more enjoyable experience.