Foremilk And Hindmilk: The Two Types of Breast Milk (Sort of)
Foremilk and hindmilk are the names given to the two “types” of breast milk, however the breast does not make different kinds of milk. Foremilk simply refers to the milk that first is pumped or breastfed and hindmilk refers to the milk that is pumped or breastfed after the breast has been somewhat emptied. While the breast only makes one kind of milk, foremilk and hindmilk do have different qualities:
The Qualities of Foremilk
Foremilk is the breast milk that first is expressed from a full breast. It tends to be:
- More watery
- Lower fat content
- Lightish blue in color
This type of milk is hydrating for the baby but contains less calories than hindmilk.
The Qualities of Hindmilk
Foremilk gradually changes into hindmilk as the breast is emptied. Hindmilk is the milk that is expressed after the breast has been somewhat emptied. Hindmilk tends to be:
- More creamy
- Higher fat content
- Yellow in color
Because Hindmilk contains more fat and so it contains more calories than foremilk.
How to Apply Your Knowledge of Foremilk and Hindmilk To Get A Better Sleeping Baby
You’ve learned that hindmilk is more fatty and contains more calories than foremilk. This is important for a number of reasons. Imagine you have just woken up in the middle of the night and you are hungry. Do you grab a glass of water or do you get something to eat? In the same way, you want baby who wakes up hungry in the night to get the higher calorie hindmilk, therefore don’t be in a hurry to rush the nighttime breastfeeding sessions and be sure baby has emptied one breast completely before switching to the other one. This makes sure baby gets as much calorie-rich hindmilk as possible which will allow baby to sleep for a longer stretch.
Switching sides too quickly at night might leave baby with a tummy full of watery foremilk and baby will wake again sooner because he will get hungry faster.
How to Apply Your Knowledge of Foremilk and Hindmilk To Help A Baby Gain Weight
If your baby is struggling with gaining weight, follow the same advice above and breastfeed baby on one side until that breast is completely empty before switching sides. Whenever baby is not gaining enough weight be sure you are giving baby as much hindmilk as possible.
Another strategy for a baby who is not gaining weight is to breastfeed more often. The less amount of time that passes between breastfeeding sessions, the less chance foremilk has to form. When you breastfeed more often, more of the milk will be calorie-righ hindmilk.
Foremilk and Hindmilk Recap
While we use the names foremilk and hindmilk, really a breastfeeding mother only makes one type of milk but due to the sticky nature of fat, it tends stay further back in the milk ducts and this creates the phenomena of foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is a blueish, watery, quick-flowing milk that is great for hydration. Hindmilk is a yellowish, creamy, slower-flowing milk that’s packed with fat and calories.