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Thread: Possible that one breast is drying up?

  1. #1

    Default Possible that one breast is drying up?

    Some background...my child is 8 1/2 months old, was exclusively breastfed until 6 months when he started eating some solids. I nurse on demand, so he drinks milk all day long when I'm with him and when I'm at work he drinks a 5 oz bottle of BM every 3-4 hours. I'd say he drinks about 25 oz a day.

    My left breast has always produced less milk (which I know is normal) and so I always offer it to him first. Until recently he always nursed on both sides, starting with the left. Recently, he has been spending less and less time on the left side. Even when there is milk coming out of the left breast he just gets tired of it and wants to switch. And especially at night before bed he's been spending almost no time on the left. He has a cold right now and I think he can breath better when he's lying on his left side- nursing on my right breast- so maybe that has something to do with it? Although this started before the cold...

    Now I've noticed that when I pump I'm getting less and less proportionally out of that breast. It used to be that when I pumped I'd pump about double from the right breast. Now, I pumped this morning and got 4 oz out of the right and only 1 oz from the left! And for the past few nights the baby has not wanted to nurse at all from the left breast before bed. Its as if he's weaning from the left breast!

    So obviously the less the baby wants to eat from the left breast the less it will produce. So my questions are:

    1) Why do you think he avoiding the left breast.

    2) What can I do about it? Aside from pumping my left after he eats each time...not feasible at this point.

    3) If I stop producing from the left breast will I still be able to BF for the indefinite future?

    I really really really don't want to stop BFing yet. I know people who have only nursed from one breast ever so I assume its ok. My right breast already seems to be making up for it. I pumped more this morning than I usually do from just that breast. But I was hoping to continue BFing at least at night and in the morning after he turns 1yo and I just wonder whether this is an indication that I won't last that long.

    Thanks for your insights.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Northern Cal.
    Posts
    4,983

    Default Re: Possible that one breast is drying u

    I'm not sure why he's avoiding the left breast - it may be temporary, or it may be because the flow is slower and it's more work to get milk out on that side? But no matter why, I don't think it's something you need to worry about unduly.

    You can make enough milk from one breast, and many women nurse more, or exclusively on one side than the other. Especially after year (you're getting close!) this isn't a big deal, because you can pump wean, so you're not longer "seeing" the supply difference, and it's easier not to be bothered by something you're not seeing, right?

    But I wouldn't write that left breast off so soon. I'd keep offering it, and letting your baby nurse as long as he wants on it. The difference in supply might start to even out again, or it might now, but even a low supply side is providing some milk - and there's a big difference between some milk and "dry."

    Generally speaking, I'd say the supply differential between my two breasts has gotten more noticeable as Joe has gotten older (because he favors the one side so much), but there have also been some ups and downs along the way, times when he happily nursed on my less-favored side and supply went up and then other times when it went back down. Remember, milk supply can go up or down. It doesn't just go down. It sounds like you are making plenty of milk for your baby, so it doesn't matter so much whether it's exactly 50/50 on both breasts. Still, don't discount the importance of the low producer when you're 75/25 - 25% is still a good amount of milk!


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: Possible that one breast is drying u

    The PP gave great advice.

    I just thought I'd share my own experience with second child. He had sucking problems from birth and really only learned to breastfeed around 2 months of age. And then he could only nurse off of my right breast (higher supply and easier anatomy). I nourished him completely from the right side for two months before he started nursing on the left (I kept the pumping up on the left in the hopes that he would nurse one day).

    He has always preferred the right, and it has (almost) always made more milk. He's nursing less these days, but I pretty much always start him on the left. Sometimes he doesn't nurse much at all before switching to the right. He'll stay on that side for a long time, and then he often switches back to the left for some time, though not always.

    I love the fact that he nurses (and on both sides) since it wasn't easy at all for us. I worried from about six months on that he's be an early weaner (and he still might be, but since he's almost twenty months, it's not the same kind of worry).

    If your LO has a preference, that will affect the milk supply, but it doesn't mean that the less favored side has to go by the wayside completely. Keep offering and see what he accepts if that makes sense.

    Also, you mention that you can't add in extra pumpings on the one side, and I don't think you'd have any need to. If you wanted to increase the time you spend on the one side with your current pump routine even by just a few minutes, that could give a little jolt to supply if you really want to bring it back up, or you could try to carve out some time one evening to do a brief power/cluster pumping of that one side just to tell it to produce at little more. I don't think you really need to, but if you want to try to boost supply up a bit to see if your little one was encouraged by that, those are some ways to do it.

    Sorry that I'm writing a disorganized post. I just wanted to mention one other thought that your post prompted. You mention his cold and that he may be able to breathe better on one side than the other. I found that when my child was learning how to nurse on the left, he would tolerate no position other than what I used on the right. So, it was cross-cradle hold on the right, football on the left. He always lies on his left side when we nurse side-lying, and I roll to give him access to whatever side he wants. That continues to this day, though he does allow me to use cross-cradle hold on the left now. Perhaps if you could shift yourself rather than shifting him while he's struggling with the cold, that might make him breathe a little easier while on the left. I hope that makes sense.

    I wish you very well.
    I breast milk fed my Blossom for fifteen months (after exclusively pumping for thirteen). My Bud (nineteen months) is still nursing directly (after a rough start that included a few months of pumping and supplementing with mommy's milk).

    TwoDewdrops: Nursing Dresses and Tops for Discreet Breastfeeding (and Pumping)

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