Breast milk is very important for the health and development of newborn babies. Hence, some people would argue that the breast exists because of the needs of the babies.
Though that may not be entirely true. The truth is, the importance of breast milk to the overall well being of a child can’t be overstated.
Doctors and child psychologists continuously suggest that a baby breastfeeds for the first six months of his or her life.
The process of breastfeeding might look simple to the onlooker but, in the real sense, that is not the case. Lots of techniques and steps are needed to get the process right.
The breastfeeding act forces most mothers to make difficult decisions, especially working mothers.
These mothers are often in a dilemma about what choice is the best for them and their baby.
Aside from all these decisions, other complications can surface as you breastfeed your baby — the problem of low milk supply among other things.
The problem or complication we are going to look at extensively is the problem of uneven milk supply from the breast.
As a nursing mother, you might observe that one breast is supplying more breast milk to the baby during the process of sucking.
Even mothers who prefer to pump the breast for milk supply can notice the uneven amount of liquid.
Causes of imbalance in milk supply
1). Baby habit
Your baby might prefer one side of the breast more than the other.
The preference of the baby can cause the mother to breastfeed the baby on the preferred side more.
According to the “demand and supply ” nature of the breast. The used more to breastfeed the baby would produce more milk than the other side used less.
2). A mother’s choice
A nursing mother may choose to breastfeed the baby more on one side than the other. The reason for this choice might be the mother’s own inclination to one side.
For instance, one left-handed mother would prefer to breastfeed her baby on the right breast more than the left because it would be easier for her to work the right breast than the left.
Likewise, a right-handed mother. The breast the baby use more would produce more milk for the baby.
3). Sicknesses and surgeries
A mother who has battled with breast cancer or any other illness on one of the breast may produce less milk on that breast.
The treatment procedure of this like chemotherapy can affect the milk duct in the breast. Injuries such as car crashes can affect the milk duct in the breast changes and reduce milk production.
4). Variation based on anatomy
The asymmetry of life affects us everywhere. Contrary to what many believe, the breasts are not the same anatomically. It is possible to discover that there is more milk duct in one more.
These anatomical differences are not limited to the breast alone. Careful scientific investigations have revealed that other parts of the human body undergo the same distinctions.
The anatomical variation in the breast can also include the shape of the nipples.
5). Differences in let- down or milk release
The way the milk on one of the breasts is released when the baby suck on it may differ. One side may be too forceful for the baby may not like the particular breast.
And automatically mothers give their baby what they want so they would breastfeed more on the baby preferred side.
Having discussed the causes of uneven milk supply in the breast, we will discuss how to know when it is happening.
How to know you are having an uneven distribution of milk supply
- The baby would show his or her displeasure when you try to use the less producing breast for breastfeeding the baby.
- If you examine your breast using a mirror or by asking someone to look at them when they are full, you will notice that they are not the same size when they are full of milk. The side smaller in size would automatically produce less milk.
- The baby would like you only to feed him or her on the side that supply more milk. You would notice the baby favoring only one side of the two breasts.
- As a nursing mother, when the breasts are full, it is reasonable to feel the weight. You can notice the uneven milk supply by using your hand to cup each breast. The one with less milk supply would be lighter than the one with more milk in it.
The next logical question on the mind of a reader of this article would be: what can I do to fix this problem.
Although the case of having an uneven supply of milk from one breast might not be a significant problem, some mothers feel it is a problem.
We are going to discuss ways you can address the issue of uneven milk supply in one breast.
How often does the problem occur?
Though the problem of uneven milk supply in nursing mothers is not something you hear every day, it does happen.
Most nursing mothers encounter this problem but may not notice the issue immediately.
The questions often arise from mothers who prefer to feed their babies from one side of the breast more.
The concept of “demand and supply” effects milk production in the body of a nursing mother.
When the body realizes that the mother breastfeeds on one side more than the other, the supply on the I devoured hand would diminish considerably.
There are several reasons a mother would favor one side more than the other when it comes to breastfeeding.
It can be because of the baby feeding habit, it can be as a result of pain or injury on the less used side or as merely a matter of choice.
Whatever the reason might be, the result would be uneven production milk from the breast during breastfeeding.
However, I have to state here that mother who use breast pump exclusively to breastfeed their baby or to maintain milk supply, there would have uneven milk supply usually. Therefore, there is no need to worry about the variation in milk supply.
How to boost milk supply in the less-producing or underproductive breast
The best way to boost the milk supply in the less-providing breast is to increase the demand on the particular breast. Under the demand and supply nature of the milk supply.
An increase in the demand for milk from the breast would boost the milk supply from the breast. The following tips would assist you even out the milk supply.
- Increase the baby latch on the underproductive breast. The increase in the baby sucking would boost the production of milk in the breast because the rise in demand would boost supply as we have earlier stated here. Ensure that the baby sucks more on the less – producing breast, maybe only on that breast for a few days for a quicker result.
- Make use of breast pumps in between feeds. The use of breast pumps would stimulate the breast more and boost milk supply by increasing demand. The ideal pump time should be 10 minutes. However, if the milk supply is minimal, you can do an extra pumping session to boost the amount faster. But, make sure you don’t ignore the productive side totally, or it can cause you discomfort when it engrossed too much.
- Do hand- massage
Hand-massage technique would boost milk supply in the less- producing breast.
Do hand massages for a few minutes a few times a day. You would notice a considerable increase in the milk supply from the breast that has been producing less in a few days.
It may be wise to do hand- massages alongside breast pumping to get a better result.
- Make use of heat
Many don’t know about the importance of temperature in boosting milk production. But, the temperature is very effective in increasing milk production and supply.
You can try the validity of heat be taking a hot shower before you begin your breast pump session. Try to focus your shower head on the breast producing less milk.
You would notice an increase in the quantity of liquid pumped from the underproductive breast during pump sessions.
Aside from using the hot shower as a source of heat, there are special-designed tools for adding warmth to the breast during your breast pump session. You could make use of these tools as well.
There are other tips like use of vibrations, but we would only discuss the most important ones.
Although the topic of this article is about the uneven supply of milk, we will try in extra information for you.
How to boost milk supply from both breasts
i). Nurse regularly
There is no better way to boost milk supply than regulate breastfeeding. The reason for this is breast works with the concept of “demand and supply” as we have said earlier.
Regular breastfeeding would send the signal of more demand to the body. Then the body would increase its milk production.
The tip is as simple as that. When it is not possible for you to nurse your baby due to circumstances beyond your control, pump the breast regularly to make up for the times you could not breastfeed the baby directly.
I suggest you feed the baby as often as possible during the day maybe every 2- 3 hours. At night you can stick to 3 hours. The schedule also applies to pump if you are not with the baby.
2). Make the baby feed on both breasts
We have already discussed this tip. When breastfeeding, make sure you alternate between both breasts.
The alternation would eliminate the problem of uneven breast supply. You can rotate about three times, depending on how much appetite the baby has at the time of breastfeeding.
3). Breastfeed exclusively
Once the baby is not more than six months old, don’t use formulas or solids to supplement breast milk.
The baby’s digestive system is not ready for things like that and would make him or her not to feed effectively when you try to breastfeed. Then the health of your baby will be affected.
4). Relax and keep yourself hydrated often
Anxiety and stress can affect the work of milk-producing hormones in the body.
These hormones are responsible for milk production, and when their work tampers with it can lead to low milk supply. Drinking lots of water also aid milk production in the body because so many metabolic activities in the human body needs water.
Other tips to boost milk supply from both breasts include; avoid using bottle feeding and nipple shields.
The reason for this is they can confuse the baby because the process of sucking is different between a natural nipple and an artificial one.
One essential question mother with uneven milk supply in their excellent task. Will my baby get enough milk supply?
I have been asked this particular question several times, and I will tell you all what I always have anyone who asked.
As long as the production side is producing enough milk, you need not worry.
The productive one would produce enough to cater to the baby’s nutritional needs.
Lots of mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively on one side because of the low productivity of the other one.
The baby turned out alright having gotten enough milk from the productive one to make up for the deficiency of the other one.
I know we have provided some tips that should be good enough to assist you in addressing the issue of uneven milk supply.
Try to implement these tips suggested here, and the issue of asymmetrical milk supply from your breast would be solved.
There is no need to panic and feel depressed, lots of mothers go through this same problem, so it is pretty standard.
Don’t feel like an alien or a freak. I believe we have established the fact that it is usual for mothers.
To all the mothers out there, I wish you all the best as you continue to raise beautiful children to beautify this wonderful planet.