Foremilk Hindmilk Imbalance
imbalance is one of the most common breastfeeding problems, and usually
occurs due to incorrect information and misconceptions about how breastfeeding works.
Colostrum is produced for only a few days before and after giving birth. It is the clear liquid that is very rich in nutrients and antibodies.
Read more about colostrum and its benefits.
What is Foremilk?
Foremilk is the milk that lies in
the front of your breast's milk producing cells (alveoli); this is the first milk that your little one drinks during a
breastfeeding session. This milk is watery when compared to hind milk and
is usually bluish in color. Foremilk is also abundant in carbohydrates,
protein and vitamins.
What is Hindmilk?
Hindmilk is the milk further back in your breast's milk producing cells (alveoli). It is calorie loaded and has a much higher fat percentage. It also looks thicker and darker in color.
So, Why this Difference in Milk?
milk is produced, it passes the alveoli (milk producing cells). Most of
the fat in the milk then sticks to the back and sides of the alveoli (the fatty hindmilk), while the rest of the milk collects in the front of the alveoli (less fatty
So, the fat gets stuck further back in
the breast's alveoli, and this is what causes the large difference between the milk
at the beginning of a feed and the milk at the end. The fat content in the milk
increases gradually during a feed as the fat globules are released from
The longer a mother waits between feedings, the more
foremilk is allowed to collect and the longer it will take before her baby
receives the hindmilk.
The high lactose level found in the
foremilk is important for energy and brain development and also
quenches the baby’s thirst. The hind milk is important for growth and helps
the baby feel full.
Foremilk hindmilk imbalance
~ Interesting Fact ~
The less breast milk a Mom has in her breast, the higher the fat content will be.
What is a Foremilk Hindmilk Imbalance?
happens when a mother allows her baby to breastfeed for only a few minutes on
each side. This results in her baby filling up exclusively on foremilk, which provides an oversupply of lactose. This, in turn, causes gassiness and foamy
green, explosive stools.
It is so important that the mother allows her baby to drink from one breast until it "seems" empty, (breasts
are never completely empty because they are constantly producing milk) before
offering the other breast. This will ensure that the baby receives the foremilk
and hindmilk. The hindmilk will fill a baby more and decrease colic
symptoms and explosive stools.
Sometimes the mother might have an
oversupply of foremilk, which will also result in a foremilk imbalance
problem. What causes this? Not allowing the baby to finish one breast at a time.
How can you fix this? Do not allow your baby to comfort feed, if you already have an oversupply of milk (flutter sucking usually indicates comfort sucking).
Foremilk Hindmilk Imbalance Symptoms
- Green frothy explosive stools.
- The baby spits up a lot.
- Baby wanting to breastfeed all the time; not becoming satisfied.
- Blood in stools.
- Slow weight gain.
- Diaper rash due to acidic stools.
- Baby has a bowel movement immediately after a feeding.
The Causes of a Hindmilk Foremilk Imbalance
How to Prevent or Stop a Foremilk Hindmilk Imbalance
To prevent this, a mother should breastfeed only from one breast during each breastfeeding session. If the other breast becomes a bit engorged (overfull), the mother can express some of the milk, until her breast feels less full and tight.
- To remedy the imbalance, a mother can breastfeed from each side for a separate 12 to 24 hours. (To prevent engorgement you can express some milk).
- How to reduce breast milk supply: If the mother has an oversupply, she can try reducing milk supply by drinking Sage tea or using cabbage leaves.
Sometimes, an oversupply is accompanied by a forceful letdown. (Read more on overactive and underactive milk let down here).
Lovely Video that explains Foremilk/Hindmilk
Other pages on “breastfeeding problems" in connection with foremilk hindmilk imbalance
- Lactose intolerance in the breastfed baby
- Breastfeeding on demand
- Breast engorgement
- Overabundant milk supply
- Breastfeeding overfeeding
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