It’s one of those things people don’t warn you about with breastfeeding: Sometimes one breast makes way more milk than the other. Not only that, but that one super-producing breast can grow to be significantly larger than the other. So while this isn’t necessarily a problem with breastfeeding, your lop-sided bosom just might be a problem with you.
It’s very common for your lactating breasts to be different sizes. Part of it may be physiological, meaning one breast just may have more milk-making tissue. But it is also very common for a baby, or mom, to favor one side over the other. Babies can quickly form preferences for positioning, nipple shape, or the quickness of letdown. Even moms can get in the habit of latching baby in one position. For some babies, it may be a condition like torticollis that makes nursing at one breast more comfortable than the other.
If your baby suddenly begins refusing one side, be sure to call your lactation consultant. It could be a sign of a brewing breast infection or another medical condition that needs attention.
Whatever the underlying reason, if your baby is latching more on one breast than the other, that favored breast will make more milk and grow bigger as a result. Breast milk supply largely depends on frequency of milk removal from the breasts, and a breast that is stimulated less than the other will adjust its production to match the demand.
It’s important to realize that if your breast milk supply is adequate, having one breast be smaller than the other isn’t a sign that there is a milk supply issue. But beyond that, it can be unsettling to a mom’s self-image. Having differently sized breasts can make bra-fitting difficult. And even if they can ignore the extra padding that the smaller side might need to fill the bra cup size required for the larger breast, she can feel self-conscious when getting intimate with her partner.
So what to do? Here are 5 tips to help your breasts get back to a similar size:
1) Latch on the smaller breast first
If your baby doesn’t want to nurse on the smaller breast, it may be that the letdown is slower than on the other side. Try massaging the breast by hand for 2 minutes before latching on baby, and then using compressions while baby is latched to stimulate additional letdowns during the feeding.
You may also want to experiment with different positions, and try to latch the baby when a little sleepy and in a quiet, darkened room. If you’re having difficulty with a baby refusing to latch, call your lactation consultant.
2) Latch on the smaller breast more often than the larger breast
Once baby is comfortable with latching on the smaller breast, resolve to nurse from this breast more often than from the larger breast. You don’t want to ignore the larger breast, but aim to offer the smaller breast first for every feeding rather than alternating sides.
3) Pump the smaller breast while nursing on the larger breast
Admittedly, trying to pump one side while nursing on the other breast can make for some tricky positioning. So consider buying a hands-free nursing bra to help you out. You can also try a HaaKaa pump, which suctions to your nipple and passively extracts your breast milk through reverse pressure.
4) Hand-express the smaller breast after nursing
Breast pumps may be all the rage, but hand expression can be just as effectively at removing milk from your breast. Better yet, because it involves skin-to-skin contact — which boosts the milk-making hormone, oxytocin — hand expression can be an important technique to help increase milk supply.
While you can certainly pump your smaller breast after nursing to boost its milk production, those plastic pump parts don’t give you any of that milk-boosting oxytocin.
5) Hand-express or pump the smaller breast between feedings
Whether you choose to pump or hand-express, consider adding in an extra milk removal session between a few feedings during the day.
You probably won’t need to do all 5 of these tips to see results, but one or a couple of the tips may resonate more with you than others. Choose what feels right to you and then add or adjust as you go along.
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