Breast Feeding a baby

From the birth of the baby, feeding becomes the most significant topic for mothers and much before they start food, the first feed is the mother’s milk for which a lot of knowledge is shared by elderly ladies and the motherly people but it is always better to get the correct and actual related knowledge as little knowledge can be alarming and risky.

Lots of people talk about breastfeeding but not all are clear with the concepts of foremilk and hindmilk. Not having proper knowledge regarding the same can lead to a lot of worry and problems in relation to breastfeeding and weaning off early. It is recommended by the doctors to breastfeed the baby for the initial six months as it helps in building a strong bond between the mother and the child, and is beneficial for the mother as helps in fighting diseases like ovarian cancer, breast cancer etc. and good for the baby as offers all nutrients to the baby and helps in minimising respiratory infections, asthma etc.

It is thus important to get a proper insight while feeding and know the effects of foremilk as well as hind-milk on breastfeeding. If one is unaware of the impact of these two types of milk, it can make the task of breastfeeding a taxing and difficult one for the mother as well as the child. So going forward we will be studying what is the meaning of foremilk and hind-milk, what is the imbalance between the two, the symptoms, causes, the time when one needs to worry about the imbalance, the measures to deal with the imbalance or methods of prevention.

What Are Foremilk And Hindmilk?

Foremilk refers to the first milk taken by the baby. It has a watery consistency and is low in calories as well as fats but good enough to satisfy a hungry baby. It comes from the front milk-producing cells present in the breastfeeding mother. It is mostly blue in color and resembles the skimmed milk yet rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, and proteins. As it is enriched with lactose it is good for brain development and even offers good energy but is low in fats and calories.

As time passes and the feeding process progresses the milk starts changing to the hind-milk which is thicker and has a good fat content. This milk comes from the back milk-producing cells in breastfeeding women and is opaque in its appearance. This milk, however, is enriched with calories as well as higher fat content. After consuming this milk, the baby starts to feel full and even helps in enhancing the growth process of the baby.

What Is Foremilk/Hindmilk Imbalance?

It is mostly seen that the mothers are always worried to know if the baby is able to get sufficient hind-milk. This worry can lead to weight gain and gastric troubles as well as loose stools. The baby might get excessive foremilk supply in the start which might make him not consume the hind-milk, so the imbalance is that condition where the milk production is on a higher side due to which the baby satisfies the hunger with foremilk and hind-milk is left out.

The condition in which imperfect milk is produced by mixing of the hind-milk that is enriched with fat with the foremilk which is enriched with lactose is referred to as the imbalance.

What Are The Symptoms Of Foremilk Hindmilk Imbalance?

It is generally seen that many a time a mother lets her baby breastfeed for few minutes from both the nipples. This is the situation that can lead to imbalance as the baby fills the hunger with foremilk only, which offers an abundant supply of lactose leading to other complications like gastric troubles etc.

Let us have a proper insight into the symptoms that help us in identifying foremilk hind-milk imbalance and they are as follows:

  1. Green And Frothy Stool: In case the color of the baby’s stool changes to green and frothy color which is on account of the high amount of lactose.
  2. Immediate Bowel Movement After Breastfeeding: If the baby takes too much of foremilk during the feeding session, it does not enough time for digestion thus leading to instant bowel movements after the fed but a mix of both the foremilk and the hind-milk makes the milk movement slow giving it enough time to be digested.
  3. Colic Attacks: In case the baby gets hit by the imbalance they would cry quite often, would clinch the fists, will have tight muscles on the stomach, will bend legs as well as hands closer to the belly, and will have a swollen tummy also.The Colic situation arises when the gases get stuck in the baby’s stomach
  4. Baby Develops A Diaper Rash Due To Stool: In case the milk taken by the baby is acidic in nature, the baby is bound to develop diaper rashes on account of that.
  5. Baby Demands Feed At Frequent Intervals: The baby will keep asking to be fed in case they have been only feeding on foremilk as it is very light in density and is watery in appearance as well due to which the baby’s stomach is not full totally.
  6. Very Slow Weight Gain: It is no doubt said that babies who are fed on mothers milk gain healthy weight yet if they are only fed on foremilk, the weight gain is really slow since this milk has very less or no fat content which is an important constituent during the growing phases of the baby.
  7. Gastric Troubles: The babies infected with the imbalance will keep passing gasses frequently either from the backside or from the mouth.
  8. Presence Of Blood In Stools: Some babies are seen to have blood stains in their stools due to the passing of the wind thus stretching the intestine.

What Are The Causes Of Foremilk/Hind-Milk Imbalance?

We now know how to identify if the baby is experiencing foremilk-hind-milk imbalance, yet it is also important to know the reasons behind this imbalance which is exceptional and quite scientific as well. When the baby sucks the milk from the mother’s nipples, a special hormone called oxytocin is released in the blood that leads to the milk moving from the ducts towards the nipples. This milk then mixes with the leftover milk from the session before. As every breastfeeding session elicits the milk reflex which could be either ejection or let go reflex.

So in case the mother’s milk is too full of milk and the baby sucks rigorously then it ends up filling the tummy with the foremilk prior to the hindmilk even reaching the nipples, leading to an inadequate mix of the two types of milk resulting in the production of imperfect milk which is not suitable for the baby at all,

When Should You Be Concerned About Foremilk/HindMilk Imbalance?

The symptoms mentioned afore are definitely the identifiers for the foremilk hind-milk imbalance yet many of them can be confusing as well.

Babies getting a green stool are not always due to the imbalance but could also be due to the intake of green leafy vegetables, teething issues, viruses or even at times happens when the baby starts solids. Unless the baby’s stool is frothy and consistently green with the baby crying endlessly and feeling discomfort, there is nothing to worry and just to be on the safer side, it is advisable to visit a medical practitioner as well.

How To Prevent Or Deal With A Foremilk/Hindmilk Imbalance?

The foremilk hindmilk imbalance is usually the result of the excess of milk production. This generally happens when the mother feeds for few minutes on both sides. Also, happens when the baby fills his stomach with the foremilk and not the hind-milk, which leads to mixing and creation of imperfect milk that is totally unfit for the baby.

Given below are some of the measures that can be taken to avoid the occurrence of foremilk hind-milk imbalance and they are as:

  • The Feeding Time Should Be Increased At Frequent Intervals: It is important to Increasing the full span of a feeding in case one is experiencing an imbalance as that will also enhance the proper mixing of the milk that has been left over.
  • Always Pump Off The First Ounce: It is important to take off the first ounces before feeding the baby so that some of the light and watery milk is out and when the baby sucks it gets good milk.
  • Preserve Milk After Pumping It: It has been seen that if the mother feeds an extremely hungry baby, he would suck aggressively which could let the mother’s milk let down during the feeding session, also influencing the foremilk hind-milk mixing in the ducts leading to abundant supply. So it is always best to preserve it.
  • Don’t Rush In Switching The Breasts: It is better not to be too quick in changing from one breast to another as the condition worsens within five minutes of switching the breasts so the ideal way is to finish the milk from the first breast before moving to the second one.
  • Switch The Feeding Positions: As per medical experts, there are few positions that can help with the occurrence of the imbalance between foremilk and hind-milk. One of them includes putting the baby upright so that the head of the baby is higher on the breast while feeding. Another one is to lean at the back with the baby on the top as long as they latch on. Yet another position that can be tried is while lying on side relaxing the baby and the mother, that also increases the feeding time as the babies and the mother drift in a sleeping mode without being aware.

Thus, it can be said that babies are quite knowledgeable as far as feeding is concerned, without anybody teaching them. It comes naturally to them so permitting them to feed till they leave it themselves and even following their cues prudently can help in fixing the foremilk and hindmilk imbalance. And in case of confusion, it is better to consult a doctor as no risks should be taken with a small baby