Foremilk hindmilk imbalance is one of the most common breastfeeding problems and usually occurs due to incorrect information and misconceptions about how breastfeeding works.
Before and after giving birth, colostrum is produced for only a few days. It is the clear liquid that is very rich in nutrients and antibodies.
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 hindmilk and is usually bluish. 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.
When the milk is produced, it passes the alveoli (milk-producing cells). Most of the fat in the milk then stick 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 foremilk).
So, the fat gets stuck further back in the breast's alveoli, and this is what causes the significant 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 alveoli.
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 essential for energy and brain development and also quenches the baby’s thirst. The hindmilk is vital 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?
When a mother allows her baby to breastfeed for only a few minutes on each side, it can cause issues; this results in her baby filling up exclusively on foremilk, which provides an oversupply of lactose; resulting in 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 continually 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 may indicate comfort sucking).
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 decreasing milk supply by drinking Sage tea or using cabbage leaves.