This subject has some mothers thinking that the breast produces two types of milk. This is not true at all.
The reason why we talk about fore and hindmilk, is because of the difference in fat content.
During the production of breast milk, the milk is exactly the same. The difference comes in when feeding your baby. When milks collects in the Alveoli (milk producing cells), the fat tends to stick to the cells. When your baby feeds until the breast is empty, the fat is then released into the milk again. When your baby doesn’t ‘finish’ each breast properly, the hindmilk stays in the Alveoli and only gets released when the breast is emptied.
When talking about foremilk, we refer to the first milk that your baby drinks when feeding. The foremilk has less fat and more lactose in it, stacked with carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins and might even appear bluish in color.
Foremilk is perfect for quenching a baby’s thirst and essential for brain development and providing energy.
Hindmilk is thus the last bits of milk your baby feeds on. This milk contains more fat and is higher in calories. The hindmilk appears darker and even thicker. Hindmilk is important for a baby’s growth.
Some mothers are under the impression that the hindmilk is more important for a baby’s growth. This is a misperception caused by too little knowledge about the subject.
In fact, it’s not the fat content that causes your baby to grow, but the amount of milk he/she gets in.
A hindmilk foremilk imbalance simply means that the baby is consuming too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. Also often referred to as a lactose overload.
This imbalance can cause a lactose and Lactase imbalance. Lactase is an enzyme that helps with the digestion of milk. If there is too much lactose and too little Lactase, the milk is not digested properly and can cause discomfort and gas in a baby.
The imbalance may cause some unwanted symptoms in a baby, such as gassiness and even slower weight gain.
When the foremilk-hindmilk imbalance continues for long periods at a time, the large amounts of undigested lactose can irritate a baby’s intestines, and may even cause bleeding that will show in the stool.
The imbalance is caused by only two things: Sporadic feeding patterns and an oversupply of milk.
* In both cases, it’s just a matter of educating yourself and changing a few things to get the correct balance again.
Look out for the following symptoms:
Make sure that you feed your baby one breast at a time, until it feels empty. If your other breast needs relief, express the extra milk and store in the fridge. (Stored milk can be used in many different ways)
REMEMBER: Feeding baby on demand allows nature to take care of any breastfeeding problems such as Foremilk Hindmilk Imbalance. Don’t keep track of time. Your baby will stop feeding when satisfied.
A more detailed explanation of lactose overload here ( External link to La Leche League International )