Have you noticed on your breastfeeding journey that one breast is an overachiever and is producing more milk, while the other breast seems to be slacking off? There could even be such a notable physical difference, that you are in two different cup sizes! It may be causing you to worry if your baby is getting enough milk, or if something is wrong. The good news is that most of the time it is normal and nothing to worry about. But why does one breast produce more than the other? Is it a problem that needs to be fixed? We’ll answer these questions and more in the post below.
- Is it normal for one breast to produce more milk than the other?
- What causes a less productive breast?
- Is unilateral milk production a problem? Should I be trying to balance it?
- How can I fix my slacker breast?
Table of Contents
Is it Normal for One Breast to Produce More Than the Other?
One breast producing more than the other, is a normal occurrence. Our bodies in general are not symmetrical, so the fact that our breasts follow the asymmetrical rule is not a problem. It’s just another fact that speaks to our human nature. There are many possibilities why one produces more than the other. Rest assured you are definitely not alone! Regardless of the reason, if your body is producing enough for your baby, it is not an issue. But why does one breast fall behind the other?
What Causes a Less Productive Breast?
This is not an all encompassing list, but some ideas of what could be a cause. If you are deeply worried, beyond a cosmetic look, talk to your medical provider and seek out a lactation specialist who can help you.
A reason that one breast could be producing more than the other is that your baby may enjoy one side over the other. Perhaps the flow is faster or easier, maybe the letdown is better or even slower. They could even just find it more comfortable to feed from one side versus the other. Because of this, and likely because they fully empty that favored breast, it will drive milk production up more on that particular side.
This could be another possibility. You may unconsciously be favoring the right or left side more. Perhaps because of your own dominant side, what feels most comfortable to you with baby feeding, or because baby just stays on that side longer, the overachiever breast is born. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand system. By emptying the breast more fully, you are signaling an increase in milk production.
Anatomically speaking there could be more mammary tissue in one breast than the other. And thus, more milk glands in a particular breast than the other, which would lead to higher production. Your nipples could also be bigger or smaller on one side than the other. If you have an inverted or flat nipple, your baby may prefer the nipple that sticks out more.
Trauma to the breast
If you have had any past surgeries or trauma that has happened to a particular breast, that could also be a cause for lower milk production. Trauma or past surgeries may have interfered with the tissue or even nerve endings, which will cause lower, if any milk, to be produced on that side.
Is Unilateral Low Milk Production a Problem? Should I be Trying to Balance it?
Should you be concerned and try to balance your milk supply? The honest answer is generally, no. Mostly our amazing bodies automatically balance out and your baby gets what they need from the overachiever breast. If you are producing enough milk for your baby, you do not need to worry.
Here are some signs that let you know your baby is healthy and you are doing enough. They include: nursing at least 8-12 times in 24 hours, 6 or more wet diapers per day, 3-4 or more messy diapers with stools, and baby seeming happy and content between feedings. You can be assured that your baby is getting enough to eat despite a breast that is slacking.
However, if you are uncomfortable by your lopsided breasts or still concerned overall, keep reading for a few tips on evening out supply. If you are unsure what your breastfeeding schedule is and how you can start one, check out our article. If your Mom gut is still tingling, don’t be afraid to reach out to your healthcare professional or a lactation consultant.
How can I Increase Milk Supply in my Slacker Breast?
Below you will find some helpful tips. Things won’t be instantaneous, it could take a few days for your body to catch on and to produce more milk. Keep in mind what’s within your control– if a surgery has occurred, it may just be that one breast will always be a higher producer than the other. Also, don’t forget your overproducer in an effort to increase supply on one side. Engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis can occur if you do not still pump or breastfeed and relieve it.
Begin nursing on the less productive side first
An emptied breast will produce more milk, so try leading with the less productive side. Encourage baby to empty it before moving on to the other side. Babies also tend to nurse a little more vigorously at the beginning. By starting and emptying the slacker breast first, you will be able to use it to your advantage with the supply and demand system of breastfeeding.
Focus feedings on your lower producing side
Nursing more often on the lower producing side will again help the breast to “recognize” that it should produce more. You do need to be careful, as we don’t want to neglect the higher producing breast during this time. As that can lead to engorgement, plugged ducts, or mastitis.
Pump the under-producing breast
If you are pumping, at the end of the session take a few more minutes to pump on the lower producing breast.
Other options can also include doing a power pump only on the underproductive breast. Power pumping consists of doing 20 min on, 10 min off, 10 min on, 10 min off, and then 10 min on. You could also add in an extra pumping session just for the one breast, that doesn’t have to be a power session. The goal is to empty the breast and then stimulate it to know that more milk needs to be made.
If you don’t want to add an extra pumping session in, I can hardly blame you. A great option is to do breast compressions by hand, either while you are breastfeeding or during a pumping session. Working from the base of the breast towards the nipple, you can express more milk out and encourage it to empty. Again, by encouraging milk flow and emptying, it can stimulate your tissue and glands, and help them to produce more.
Consult a lactation specialist
When in doubt, you can always check your equipment or even your breast with a lactation consultant. They may be able to help you in case your nipples are different sizes so equipment may differ between breasts, or they can give you tips on holds for baby to encourage emptying. They can even reassure you with where you’re at and how the baby is doing.
You are not alone on your breastfeeding journey. Many of us have experienced the slacker breast syndrome. There are many different causes for why it happens in the first place, some that you can control and some that you can’t. As long as baby is healthy and thriving, it’s ok for one side to be doing most of the work. In fact, most babies can actually live off of one breast (check out our tandem breastfeeding article if you don’t believe me)! You are doing a great job Mama, I’m so proud of you for trying to find solutions, and caring for your baby. You got this!
Niki Cowan has a background in Medicine and Public Health. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist as well as a Medical Assistant. She’s passionate about Women’s Health and empowering women in their journeys. She is married to her wonderful husband Kevin, and they have an active son. While trying to have another little one hasn’t worked out yet, she is pursuing her passions and hoping to gain further education and experience in the area she loves, while playing with her son. She’s an avid reader, Original Great British Baking Show watcher, and very amateur kickboxer.