A mother’s breastmilk is the first food any baby has once he is born. From balanced nutrition to better immunity, breastmilk provides it all. Which is why, an imbalance in its constitution can be a matter of concern and needs to be understood better.
What Is Foremilk and Hindmilk Imbalance?
Foremilk-hindmilk imbalance or dairy allergy might tend to have similar signs and symptoms but are quite different. When the milk that a baby receives during breastfeeding does not have a good mixture of both hindmilk and foremilk, such a scenario is termed as foremilk-hindmilk imbalance.
What Causes Imbalance Between Foremilk and Hindmilk?
Breastfeeding the right way offers the baby a good mixture of foremilk and hindmilk, allowing good digestion and quick nutrition. But if a baby is hungry and tends to drink milk quickly or switches breasts, the milk doesn’t get time to mix properly, leading to higher consumption of foremilk as compared to hindmilk.
Symptoms of Foremilk and Hindmilk Imbalance
Many mothers tend to worry about the baby’s feeding tendencies; an imbalance in milk can make it even worse. There are some substantial foremilk-hindmilk imbalance signs that can be looked out for and are easy to spot as well.
1. Baby Passing Blood Along With Poop
When a baby ends up getting his milk in an imbalanced proportion, there is an undue pressure on the digestive system as well. Passing gases frequently also causes their tender anus and intestines to be stretched more often than required. This constant movement can lead to blood spots occurring in the poop of your child.
2. Consistent and Repetitive Digestion Problems
Doctors usually tend to look for problems related to digestion when it comes to milk imbalance. The strongest sign for that is problematic gastric activity. Babies tend to fart frequently and may even burp more than usual in such situations.
3. Reduced or Delayed Increase in Weight
Breastmilk forms an important part of a baby’s diet primarily because it helps them put on weight and develop the fat content required to keep their bodies healthy and warm. However, it is the hindmilk that contains majority of those constituents and not the foremilk, and an imbalance can lead to your baby not gaining enough weight.
4. Necessity to Feed More Frequently
Since the hindmilk of the mother is what has the highest fat content and is thick in nature, it helps fill up the baby’s stomach properly and make him feel content. In the absence of it, your child might repetitively ask to be fed as the thin and light nature of foremilk isn’t enough for him.
5. Presence of a Diaper Rash
At times, the imbalance of foremilk and hindmilk can change the nature of milk itself. It can make the milk slightly acidic, which isn’t the best choice for a baby’s body. Such feedings can result in troublesome poops, leading to frequent diaper rashes.
6. Stomach Aches Due to Gastric Problems
A common sign of babies struggling with milk imbalance is gas in the stomach, which can easily become painful and result in colic attacks. While some babies might fart and burp to pass the gases, others may not be so lucky. The stomach muscles might tighten and spasm, causing your child to cry loudly, close fists and try to sleep in a foetal position to reduce the pain. If the gases fail to pass successfully, his belly might show a slight swelling, too.
7. A Tendency to Poop Right After Breastfeeding Has Finished
The right proportion of breastmilk gives the baby’s body the necessary boost of energy as well as enough content to be digested by the stomach. However, in case of an imbalance, a larger proportion of foremilk barely leaves the stomach and intestines any time to do their job. It instead passes directly ahead, leading to near immediate movement of the bowels, with babies sometimes pooping even while breastfeeding.
8. An Unnatural Nature and Texture of Baby’s Poop
The baby’s poop is a strong indicator of how well your child is and whether the body is receiving the right kind of nutrition or not. Imbalanced breastmilk usually contains more lactose than any other constituents. This lends a green hue to the baby’s poop as well as distort the nature of it, making it less solid and more liquefied.
How to Deal With Foremilk and Hindmilk Imbalance?
An imbalance in the proportions of your breastmilk can make it seem like there’s nothing that can be done about it. Thankfully, there are some easy foremilk-hindmilk imbalance solutions that can be put into practice right away and help resolve the situation for you.
1. Give Breastfeeding the Time and Patience it Deserves
For many mothers and all babies, breastfeeding is new and something that is being tried out for the very first time. Adjusting to each other’s preferences, time schedules, and positions can require multiple trials and errors before you land on the one that works for you. Be patient with the baby and yourself so that the breastfeeding experience itself is comfortable for both of you.
2. Pump Out a Little Milk Before Breastfeeding Your Baby
The foremilk usually flows out first before the fatty hindmilk. If your baby tends to get full in the foremilk itself, it makes sense to pump out some of it beforehand. This would help in establishing a good balance of foremilk and hindmilk, giving your baby the right kind of nutrition.
3. Take a Break During Your Breastfeeding Cycle
Many mothers choose to finish the milk from one breast first before switching to the next one. This can be a great time to give yourself and your baby a small break, before continuing the feeding. By burping your child and letting them rest for a while, he would be able to feed for a longer time and get a good proportion of hindmilk, too.
4. Try Out a Different Breastfeeding Position
In cases of milk imbalance, there are certain breastfeeding positions that are highly recommended to correct it out. Lying on your side not only helps provide a better milk flow, but also allows your little one to take a tiny nap in the middle of the feeding, allowing him to drink more. Alternatively, you can place your child on top of you while you lie down or adopt an upright sitting position, which tends to give the baby more control over the feeding.
5. Initiate Breastfeeding the Moment Your Baby Is Hungry
The longer your child stays hungry, the more aggressive and devouring his breastfeeding technique will be. This usually leads to drinking more foremilk than hindmilk. Start off early once you know your child is hungry and he’ll have a better chance to get a healthy balance of both kinds of milk.
6. Extend Your Feeding Duration as Much as Possible
A breastfeeding cycle for a baby is no less than a three-course meal. The foremilk kick starts the appetite, while the hindmilk suffices the major meal proportions. Biologically, the hindmilk also takes some time to start flowing out of your breast. Therefore, by extending your breastfeeding time periods, you can ensure a good meal for your little one every time.
7. Stick to One Breast at a Time
Since foremilk tends to flow out first from each breast, it makes complete sense to let your child feed from one breast fully during a breastfeeding session. Switching breasts even before your child has had a good proportion of milk from the first, can lead to excess foremilk consumption and cause problems. Switch to the other breast only when the first one is fully done.
Myths Regarding Foremilk and Hindmilk Imbalance
With all the terms surrounding breastmilk and the numerous signs and solutions to it, there are a few myths floating around regarding the imbalance of milk. Here are some myths and the actual facts to debunk them with truth.
1. Myth – If a baby seems disturbed, keeps farting constantly, and has green coloured poop, it is a clear sign of major foremilk consumption.
Truth: The symptoms could indicate a different issue.
While imbalanced milk consumption does at times cause the previously mentioned conditions to take place, in many cases, this could also be due to lactose intolerance in the child, which is not dependent on the proportion of milk as such.
2. Myth – If a baby is not putting on the right amount of weight as needed, it is because there is milk imbalance.
Truth: Weight gain is reliant on overall milk consumption.
The weight gain of a baby is dependent on the total milk consumption; if the child itself is not drinking enough milk, there won’t be an increase in weight as it should be.
3. Myth – Feeding a baby frequently and constantly increases the chances of him consuming more foremilk than hindmilk.
Truth: Continued breastfeeding provides an ample amount of hindmilk to the baby.
Although the initial milk from a full breast has foremilk, but in the consecutive feedings, the baby will begin to consume hindmilk and have a good input of nutrition in the form of calories and fat.
When to See a Doctor?
In case your baby continues to have colic attacks, decreased weight gain, and has a continued sense of irritability, it is best to show him to a doctor and look for possible lactose intolerance or other illnesses as well.
Breastfeeding is a mutual activity between the mother and the baby. Your child is a better judge at how much food it requires. By letting him drink to his fill and maintaining the appropriate breastfeeding practices, you can ensure that chances of milk imbalance are kept at a minimum.