Breastfeeding is vital for your baby as it provides all the necessary nutrients. It includes carbohydrates, fat, and protein as well as antibodies that help a great deal in fighting infections. The structure of a mother’s breast milk is intended to change as the infant nurses; it is because the baby can get the right amount of fats and calories.
Nevertheless, sometimes a mother encounters a situation in which she produces and feeds the baby with too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. This problem is known as foremilk hindmilk imbalance.
What are foremilk and hindmilk?
Foremilk and hindmilk are not different types of breast milk. When a mother feeds her baby, she produces only one kind of milk. However, due to a long gap during feeding, the high-fat creamy portion of the milk sticks back to the walls for some time and because of this, what the baby initially gets is foremilk, a low-fat watery part of the milk.
When the mother isn’t nursing her baby, her body continuously makes and stores milk for feeding the baby in the future. Milk is made from the milk-making cells known as alveoli. After that, it goes through the milk duct, where it is stored in the lactiferous sinuses. When the milk is produced, the high-fat part of it sticks to the walls of the alveoli. Therefore, when the mother feeds, her baby initially gets the foremilk which is low-fat milk because all of its fatty portions stick to the alveoli. After a while when the baby triggers a letdown, which is a forceful milk ejection, it pushes out the fat and the milk that was sticking to the walls of the alveoli.
You won’t be able to see the symptoms in yourself, but you can recognize them through the digestive issues of your newborn. If your baby has persistent green and frothy explosive stools, blood in stools, bowel movement right after feeding, or slow weight gain and wants to breastfeed all the time, there is a possibility that you are encountering foremilk hindmilk imbalance.
It can be caused when a mother changes breast sides too early and doesn’t let her child finish on one breast first. When a mother shifts sides even before the baby finishes, her baby gets an overdose of lactose, which is stored in the foremilk and hard to digest for the baby’s tiny stomach. Although lactose is essential for the baby’s growth, it is so only in a sufficient amount. Too much consumption of lactose can cause many digestive problems in infants.
It can also be caused due to long gaps between feeding since it can lead to more storage of foremilk. The baby won’t be able to get the fat sticking to the alveoli or the hindmilk which contains a high percentage of fat and other nutrients since the mother already has a lot of stored foremilk which can dilute any fat in the milk.
Some women who have a low milk supply often prefer changing sides as it stimulates the breasts. That is, however, only partially correct. It is a fact that breasts can produce more milk if the mother switches sides after every ten minutes, but it also allows your breast to produce more foremilk due to which the baby doesn’t get hindmilk at all.