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Ever Heard of Foremilk and Hindmilk? It's Your Breast Milk!Is there really such a thing as foremilk-hindmilk imbalance in breastfed babies?by Rachel Perez .
Breast milk is called "liquid gold" because of its lifesaving benefits for your baby and for you! It's the best and sweetest first gift you could give your baby. And did you know that your body produces breast milk that's tailored to your baby's everyday needs? Apart from passing on to your baby the essential antibodies he needs for protection, it provides your little one complete nutrition.
Breast milk, the healthiest food you can give your baby, contains fat, which babies and even young kids need to grow and help their body absorb and process essential vitamins and minerals. If you're pregnant and researching about breast milk, fat content will come up in the context "foremilk" and "hindmilk."
The differences between foremilk and hindmilk
All breastfeeding moms produce foremilk and hindmilk. The two terms do not mean you are producing two kinds of breast milk (and please stop wondering if there is any truth to this myth: you produce milk and water on each breast. It is completely false).
Experts differentiate foremilk and hindmilk when a baby receives it during a feed. Foremilk is what your baby gets at the beginning of a feed, while hindmilk is the breast milk your baby consumes towards the end of a feeding session.
La Leche League International explains how foremilk turns into hindmilk: "As milk is made, fat sticks to the sides of the milk-making cells and the watery part of the milk moves down the ducts toward your nipple, where it mixes with any milk left there from the last feed. The longer the time between feeds, the more diluted the leftover milk becomes."ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
There is no exact time lapse as to when foremilk become hindmilk. As your baby latches and feeds, the breast milk he consumes becomes fattier over time as the breast drains it more fully.
In terms of texture or consistency, hindimilk is thicker than the foremilk. If you express your milk, you'll notice that at the beginning of the pumping session, the liquid you see is a bit watery or "malabnaw" in Filipino. Towards the end of a pumping session, the breast milk you express is creamier.
Foremilk and hindmilk contain all the nutrients that make breast milk so precious for your baby. The minimal difference is hindmilk has higher amounts of fat and contains more calories. Foremilk contains less fat but is high in lactose, (i.e., sugar) which is also essential in your growing baby's diet.
Don't overly focus on foremilk-hindmilk balance.
Moms usually worry their baby isn't getting enough milk or if their baby is not gaining weight and blame it on foremilk-hindmilk imbalance. Moms who have an overly abundant breast milk supply or those with slow letdown or fast milk flow see it also as a culprit.
Too much foremilk can result in temporary lactose intolerance for a baby. It may also cause some babies to be more fussy, gassy or display colic symptoms, or have loose green bowel movements.
These are valid concerns, but don't get overly wrapped up the on foremilk-hindmilk balance. Focus instead on the following:
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- Check your baby's latch. A better latch may help your milk flow better and can help release hindmilk quickly.
- Manage your milk flow. Try different nursing positions, such as laid-back or side-lying, for an easier and and faster milk flow.
- Let baby feed on one breast as long as they like. Babies feed until they are full. If baby finished feeding on just one breast, you can express milk from the other breast to relieve engorgement.
- Nurse baby more often. Shorter intervals between feedings may help baby get less low-fat milk and consume the fattier milk easier and earlier in the feeding.
- Empty your breasts more often. Sylvia Malabanan of L.A.T.C.H. advises to massage breasts before feeding or pumping to help loosen fat globules in the milk ducts. Warm compress can also help.
- Count soiled diapers. It's your baby's total milk consumption that affects his weight, not hindmilk. If your baby isn't producing enough wet or dirty diapers, talk to a lactation consultant.
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