When you breastfeed there are 2 different types of milk your baby gets. These are called foremilk and hindmilk. That doesn’t mean that your body produces two different kinds of milk, it is just is labeling the different properties found in the breastmilk and when they are given to your baby during a feeding.
Fat in breastmilk is made in the milk ducts and then sticks to the milk making cells. The watery part of the breastmilk flows through the ducts toward your nipple and mixes with the milk that was left over from the last feed. If there has been a long period of time between feeds, then the more watery and diluted the breastmilk will be.
Foremilk is the milk that comes out at the beginning of a feeding, This milk is usually more watery and can look bluish in color. This milk is also high in sugar because it contains lactose which is a carbohydrate. Lactose is a large molecule and needs to be broken down to be absorbed. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down the lactose.
When a baby consumes milk that is higher in fat then digestion slows and their body is able to digest the lactose. If the baby is consuming milk that is lower in fat then the lactose goes through the system faster than the body can digest it. This can cause the baby to suffer from excess gas and discomfort. The baby may also have green frothy stools.
This increase in foremilk can be because the timing between feeds to long, or because of an oversupply and the baby is continually consuming the foremilk and never is able to get to the hindmilk.
This is why draining your breasts is important. Not only for milk supply reasons but for the babys digestion as well. When a baby drains the breast they are able to get to the hindmilk which is higher in fat and keep the baby fuller longer and also helps with the digestion of the foremilk.
Many babies will be able to consume an entire feeding from one breast. This is why the amount of ‘time’ at the breast isn’t important and switching sides isn’t always necessary. It’s more about the baby being satisfied and draining at least one breast completely.
If you have any questions or concerns please reach out!
For more information visit www.LLLI.org