Why do I seem to have more milk in one breast, compared to the other?
Read on to find out the answers to having more milk in one breast and if you should be worried about it.
Having more milk in one breast is actually a very common occurrence.
You may notice this when pumping or expressing (the yield will be different, sometimes significantly) or the size of the breast may vary slightly or be very noticeable — there are many, many variations.
This difference may be due to a variety of reasons: a lower glandular tissue content in one breast, baby’s preference for one side, mum’s preference for one side, or previous breast surgery or injury.
Some babies may fuss or complain if the let-down or flow of milk is slow on the less full side, or if the let-down is very forceful on the fuller side, which may cause a side preference that can make the difference even more noticeable.
Take note though, that this difference in yield should not impact your breastfeeding relationship with your baby, but some mums still prefer to try to even things out.
What can you do about having more milk in one breast?
If this bothers you, there are a few options:
Let it be
The first is to do nothing. If breastfeeding seems to be working out for you and your baby, just continue doing what you’ve been doing so far.
Stimulate the smaller side
A second option is to try to even things out: Try stimulating the smaller side a little more, either via pumping or latching, but be very careful to not neglect the fuller side as this may put you at risk for blocked ducts.
You could always offer the smaller side first for a feed, and then offer the fuller breast once the first side is soft. You could pump the smaller side every time the fuller side is being nursed on first. (Only pump for 5-10 minutes or so).
Another option would be to work in 1 extra pumping session per day for the smaller side (15-20 minutes) in between feeds. Do make sure that you use a good breast pump, or that you use a good technique when hand expressing.
Here’s a link to help you learn how to hand express your milk: http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastfeeding/HandExpression.html.
Do something different
If you find that the baby prefers the fuller side, you could consider trying different positions, nursing when baby is sleepy, or using motion while feeding.
If the flow is slow, breast compressions can help speed things up a little for the baby.
Ask for assistance
If nothing works, it may be worthwhile to seek help from a lactation consultant/IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) to help figure out some strategies. You can try searching ilca.org to find one in your area.
Sometimes, this occurrence can be due to discomfort in the baby’s jaw or neck after birth, and the help of an experienced osteopath or chiropractor — who is well-versed in treating babies — can be invaluable.
Don’t worry: Your baby is getting enough milk!
Remember: Your baby will get enough milk, even if the yield is different from one breast to another, but it is very important that your baby has unrestricted access to your breasts, and that you nurse on demand.
Doing this will ensure that your baby stays well-nourished and hydrated, whether he or she nurses from one breast or two. Your breasts will return to more or less equal size once you’ve weaned your baby.
Need Help? Don't fret!
When in doubt about having more milk in one breast, please refer to a lactation consultant/IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), who can offer you more personalised advice according to you and your baby's situation.
theAsianparent also has a Singapore Breastfeeding Mums Support Group that you can join for mum-to-mum advice.