Do you find yourself getting less milk from one of your breasts when you pump? It’s normal for one breast to be a “slacker boob” or “lazy boob” and underproduce compared the the other side. Here is why that happens, and how to fix lopsided breasts when breastfeeding.
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How common is it to have a slacker boob?
Very, very common.
I did an unscientific poll on instagram, and over 90% of the respondents said that they consistently pumped different amounts on each side.
What causes uneven milk supply when you’re breastfeeding?
After the first few weeks, milk supply is controlled locally, within each breast, so it makes sense that they might produce different amounts.
That being said, there are a few things that can cause you to get (for example) 4 oz on one side and only 1-2 oz on the other.
- In some cases, there is a normal physical difference between the two breasts; for example, one side may have more working milk ducts than the other.
- If your baby nurses or has nursed in the past with a preference for one side over than the other, that may have caused the preferred side’s supply to increase over time compared to the other one.
- If you have favored one side over the other when doing breast compressions or single pumping earlier on, this could also cause you have more supply on the favored side.
Can you increase milk supply in your slacker boob?
If you want to increase milk supply on the slacker side (because you want to pump more milk in general or because you don’t like the appearance of lopsidedness), there are some things you can try.
In order to even things out, you will want to try to pump the same amount of milk from your good side, and more milk from the slacker side.
This is because breastfeeding is a process of supply and demand. The more milk your baby – or in this case, your breast pump – demands, the more milk your body will supply.
Therefore, you want to demand more milk from the lazy side, which means pumping more. Additional pumping can trigger more letdowns, which means more milk being removed from that breast, which then will result in your body making more milk in that breast.
Four ways to fix your slacker boob and increase milk supply in one breast
Here are a few ways you “demand” more milk from your slacker side.
Note that it will take some time – probably about a week – to see an increase in milk output on the slacker side, because it takes a few days for your body to ramp up milk supply in response to increased demand.
1. At the end of a pumping session, keep pumping the slacker side for a few extra minutes.
To do this, after you finish pumping for your normal amount of time, you’d stop the pump and set yourself up to single pump only the slacker side.
Most double electric breast pumps allow you to single pump by detaching the tubing from your pump parts on one side and covering that side’s tubing port.
Two quick tips:
- On your “good” side, you can either leave your pump parts and bottle in place without the tubing connected or put a breast pad on that side. This way, when your milk lets down again, you won’t leak milk all over the place on the good side.
- Start the pump in the letdown/massage mode and shift into the expression phase after a few minutes. You can stop either after the next letdown is finished, or after 5-10 minutes is up. (Even if you don’t get another letdown, the additional nipple stimulation may help.)
2. Do most of your breast compressions on the side that doesn’t produce as much milk.
If you don’t want to pump any more than you already do, you can focus your efforts on getting more out of the lazy side while you’re already pumping. Breast compressions can be a great way to do this.
To do breast compressions, massage the low performing side while you pump, moving your hands around and pushing as much milk out of the milk ducts as possible.
Take a break every few minutes to let your hands rest and then start again. Note: It’s much easier to do this with a hands-free pumping bra.
(Remember that you want to focus extra on the slacker side but not ignore the good side.)
3. Add an extra pumping session for only the lazy side.
You can also try adding one pumping session for day that is just for the low-producing side.
To do this, set yourself up to pump on just the slacker side, and pump for 10-15 minutes. You may want to use a milk catcher or breast pad on the other side to prevent leaks, because as mentioned above, your milk will let down on both sides.
Then at the next pumping session, you’d pump as you normally would on both sides.
4. Power pump the low-producing side.
Power pumping is an attempt to simulate cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is where a baby is on and off the breast repeatedly trying to get more milk, and it may increase supply because of the increased demand.
To power pump, you pump on and off for about an hour – generally 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, and so on, though the exact intervals don’t matter much.
More details about power pumping are available here, though obviously keep in mind that you’d just be doing it on one side instead of two.
Do I need to fix my lopsided breast situation?
No, having one breast that produces less milk than the other won’t hurt anything.
If the difference in output or the appearance of the unevenness bothers you, then go ahead and try to fix it. However, if not, having uneven breasts is totally normal.
Regarding the appearance of unevenness, it’s likely that other people won’t notice it. But if it makes you self-conscious, using an extra breast pad on the low-producing side might help.
Have you successfully fixed a slacker boob? Let us know how you did it in the comments!
Stressed about establishing or increasing your milk supply while exclusively pumping? Always worried there is something else you should be trying? Check out my milk supply guide here (use code SUPPLY for 10% off)!References
- Bonyata, Kelly, IBCLC. “How does milk production work?” https://kellymom.com/hot-topics/milkproduction/
- Bonyata, Kelly, IBCLC. “Lopsided! What do I do?” https://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/lopsided/
- Spectra Baby. “Use Breast Compressions & Massage to Boost Milk Output.” https://spectra-baby.com.au/breast-compressions-massage-pumping/
- Naik, Arpana. “Uneven Breasts.” https://www.healthywomen.org/content/ask-expert/1293/uneven-breasts