Q&A: milk drying up on one side

Theresa writes:

"I am a mom to a 8 month old and just wondering if it is possible for one side to "dry up" and have the other side still function well for breastfeeding.  I have always had more milk in one side but now the other side is hardly producing anything at all. It can take almost 12 hours for me to just get an ounce or so out of that side.  Is this normal?  possible??"

One of life's rules: You're probably not an outlier, so if it's happening to you, it's definitely possible (and probably normal).

Yes. Sometimes one side will just dry up. Sometimes there's a reason for it (mastitis, repeated plugged ducts, or something else physical like that). Sometimes the baby just shows a strong preference for one side from the beginning so eventually the other side will dry up from lack of stimulation.

Sometimes there doesn't seem to be any reason for it.

And, yes, you can continue to breastfeed on the other side. That breast should produce what your son needs. (If one mother can nurse twins with two breasts, then you can nurse one baby with one breast.) Your breasts will probably be lopsided while you continue to nurse, but should go back to being mostly even after you wean.

So it sounds to me like you have two options: Keep pumping away at the dry side to see if you can keep up any production, or just stop worrying about that side and keep nursing on the other one. I know which one I'd choose (cough-lazy-cough), but it's clearly up to you.

(Also bear in mind that you're about to hit that 10-month mark in which many many women are suddenly and mysteriously unable to pump much even if they still have plenty of milk while they're actually nursing. So your time with the pump may be limited anyway.)

Stories of one-boobed nursers for Theresa?