Is it possible for one breast not to produce milk, while the other does?

Jessica - posted on 12/16/2011 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I just gave birth to my daughter 9 days ago, and decided to breastfeed instead of going with formula, like I did with my boys. She has not started to gain any weight back yet, and my midwife suggested it is because she may have a short frenulum and may need to have it snipped. She advised me to start pumping after I feed her to increase my supply and bottle feed her what I pump after feeding her at the breast, in hopes that it will help her gain and help me produce enough to keep her full. I started doing this today, and I am using a double pump. I had both sides going earlier today for the same amount of time, and the difference in the amount of milk expressed from each breast surprised me. One side barely produced half an ounce, while the other side was over 2 ounces. Now Im wondering if thats why shes not gaining; because one side is not filling her up and she just falls asleep, and I assumed this whole time that she fell asleep cause she was full. Is it possible that one breast doesn't produce much if any milk, while the other can produce enough for a feeding? Im thinking of continuously pumping the 'defective' side while feeding her on the good side until the supply increases, if it even does?

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Lori - posted on 12/16/2011

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It is possible for one side to produce more than the other side. However it's also possible that the side you got less from is the side you last nursed from, so your daughter got the milk before the pump did. Your breasts are continuously producing milk, so they will never be "empty", but they are generally much fuller before feeding/pumping. Keep breastfeeding and pumping and maybe next time you'll notice more from the other side.

ALSO - if you find that you truely are producing much less from one side than from the other, you should still be able to produce enough milk from only one side to feed your baby. It's all about supply and demand. The more milk that's removed from the breast, the more milk that breast will make.

User - posted on 12/16/2011

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First, CONGRATS!! and Yes!!.. I had my lil muchkin 8 months ago, I had soo many problems with production in the beginning. I won't go into my laundry list, itll take wayy too long. Now I fxed my 'lop-sided' production, my right side produced alot and my left lagged. So I'd alternate. for example: I would feed her on my rs and then pump the Ls for 10mins. and then the next time i would feed her on the left and then pump the right side for ten mins. its tedious work but it really paid off. it will take a few months for your production to regulate. I also took the herbal supplement fenugreek one pill twice a day with lots of water. It's been used for yrs to increase milk production... ive been studying herbs for several yrs... also check out kellymom.com shes an actual bclc (board certified lactition consultant) there are several herbs/spices that you should avoid bc it can actually lower your milk production. feel free to email me anytime. I will always help when i can. best of luck

Stephanie - posted on 12/19/2011

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When I nursed both my children I had a ton of issues with weight gain and supply, as well as infection. I did note that one breast produced less than the other, the best way to determine is by getting a baby scale and weighing baby before and after nursing with a clean diaper on. I went to a breastfeeding clinic and that's what they did there. you can determine if baby just drank a .5 ounces, 2 ounces, or however many ounces. just don't change the diaper during the feeding! only before.

Claire - posted on 12/18/2011

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Its normal for one to produce more than the other, and pumping is not a good indication of your milk production because the baby is so much better at expressing the milk from you. Plus there are different breast guards and whatnot that will form to your nipple better that may help you pump more off that side. I have noticed that when it comes to breastfeeding, my 2 nipples are different so she even latches on different to whatever on she is on.

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Stephanie - posted on 12/19/2011

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breast size has nothing to do with milk production, except when they're getting engorged and the like. so, just because one breast is larger than the other it doesn't necessarily mean it will produce more or less...

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It's completely normal for one side to produce more than the other. Also, pumipng is not a good indicator of supply. One breast may respond better to the pump than the other. How are you feeding? Do you time how long she nurses on one side? Do you time how long she goes between feeds?

Always nurse on demand. Look for early hunger cues which are: increased alertness, smacking lips, turning head side to side, rooting. Fussing and crying are late signs. You want to nurse before she gets fussy. Put her to the breast when you see the early signs even if she just nursed 30 minutes ago. Let her nurse on the first breast until she falls off on her own. If you can easily squeeze milk out of the first breast then put her back on it. If you can't easily squeeze milk out then you can offer the second. The fat in your milk comes out more at the end of a feeding on that breast. So moms that time how long baby nurses on each side may find that baby doesn't gain as well and they may also be fussy due to gas.

For the uneven producing, are your breasts different sizes? If it's not that bad (where you are lopsided) then I wouldn't worry about it. I just corrected this problem the last few days. My right produces so much more that there was a cup size difference and it really annoyed me. You can try nursing on the smaller side first for a day (if you offer both sides). I nurse one side a feeding so I did the smaller side 2 times in a row twice yesterday and things are already evening out. I'm hesitant to suggest you skip nursing on the bigger side because you're supply isn't established yet. I would just wait it out. Something that can boost supply in the smaller side is pumping just that side after she nurses.

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