Breast milk is generally known to have two components – foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is the milk that comes at the start of breastfeeding while hindmilk is the milk that comes at the end. Let’s understand more about it.
What are Foremilk and Hindmilk?
The breastmilk that the baby receives at the start of a breastfeeding session is known as the ‘foremilk,’ which has more water content, is higher in volume but has low-fat content. As the breastfeeding goes on, the fatty content of the breastmilk increases gradually, and the volume goes down. The breastmilk towards the end of the breastfeeding session is lower in volume but very high in fat content and is known as the ‘hindmilk.’ If you are thinking about foremilk vs hindmilk, the major difference is the fat content of the milk.
The breasts only produce one type of milk which has high-fat content. The different types of milk are the result of the mechanics of milk release. The fat content of the milk gradually increases as the breastfeeding session progresses. When the milk is being produced in the breast, the fat globules present in the breastmilk stick to each other and to the alveoli walls (where the milk is made). Milk gets collected in the breasts and slowly moves out through the nipple, leaving behind more and more of the fat content in between the breastfeeding sessions.
What is Foremilk-Hindmilk Imbalance?
If your breasts have more milk than your baby can comfortably consume, your supply will gradually go down over time to correlate to your baby’s actual breastmilk needs. Some babies might get an overdose of foremilk which is rich in lactose. This is known as a foremilk-hindmilk imbalance. Infants might also get foremilk-hindmilk imbalance if you have a healthy milk supply and you take your baby away from the breast before he has finished feeding or you switch sides too soon.
Confusion About the Green Nappies
Healthcare providers typically believe in the idea of sticking to one single breast for one feeding session (known as block-feeding), so that the baby can get more hindmilk. These healthcare providers (and mothers of this opinion) might observe the babies passing green stools. however, the common scant green nappy of your child not gaining weight is not as same as the abundant frothy green nappy of a child with an overload of lactose. Sticking to one breast is definitely not the solution for a baby suffering from green “starvation stools”. Check with your International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for more queries if you are unsure about what your child’s nappies mean or whether block-feeding is a good thing for your child.
Temporary Lactose Intolerance
In these circumstances, the child might find it problematic to digest all the copious amount of lactose that is plentiful in the foremilk causing lactose overload or temporary lactose intolerance. They might get uncomfortable and fussy with copious green, foamy and frothy nappies. The sheer volume and high sugar content of milk generally mean that infants gain weight quite well with foremilk-hindmilk imbalance. However, it may be possible that some babies might not gain enough weight in this circumstance. It is advised to breastfeed your baby on one breast per feed or for a period of time because this can be very beneficial with foremilk-hindmilk imbalance to make sure that babies intake a fine proportion of milk with higher fat concentration.
It doesn’t matter whether it is hindmilk or foremilk or something in the middle of the session, all your baby needs is lots of milk to grow healthy. It is the quantity of breast milk that determines the baby’s health rather than the fat content in a particular feed. So, don’t worry about the quantity of hindmilk that your baby is receiving.
Also Read: Content and Composition of Breastmilk