Hind Milk: What Nursing Mothers Need to Know
Find out more about this type of breast milk…
When you hear the terms “foremilk” and “hind milk”, you may be thinking, “Does the breast produce two kinds of milk?” The answer to that question is “absolutely not!” The breasts produce one type of milk: breast milk. The terms foremilk and hind milk simply describe two of the different stages of breast milk production.
Below is everything you need to know about hind milk and its relation to foremilk:
- Foremilk is the first of the milk produced. It’s thinner and more watery because the fat cells from the previous feeding cling to the breast ducts.
- Hind milk has a much higher fat content than foremilk. It’s the last of the milk produced, which means all the fat cells clinging to the breast ducts have been absorbed into the milk.
- Hind milk has a lower lactose content than foremilk. On the flip side, there is more fat, meaning it will take longer for the baby’s digestive system to break down and absorb.
- The fat calories in hind milk are needed for the child’s growth. Fat provides the energy the body needs to produce new muscle, nerve, and tissue cells, as well as to keep their organs and internal functions running. The higher-fat hind milk is vital for a child’s healthy development.
- The fat in hind milk plays an important role in the growth of the infant’s brain. Fat is one of the brain’s primary energy sources, so it needs a lot of fat cells in order to work properly.
- Hind milk isn’t the type of breast milk that will cause indigestion in your child. Babies’ digestive systems are more than capable of breaking down the fatty acids. It’s only an excess of lactose (in the foremilk) that may be causing digestive upset.
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- If your child stops nursing before the milk is fully drained, they may get primarily foremilk. The hindmilk is only available at the end of the nursing, once the fat cells have fully mixed into the milk.
- Hindmilk helps to reduce the risk of lactose digestion problems. The higher fat content of hindmilk balances out the higher sugar content of foremilk.
- It’s important to let the child nurse fully on one side before switching to nurse on the other breast. That way, the child will get all the nutrients from both the fore and hind milk.
- The fat content of the milk increases the more the child nurses. Infants who are picky eaters or who don’t nurse fully will usually stop eating before they reach the hind milk.
- Fat content in the breast milk may actually be higher before your child starts to nurse. If a lot of hindmilk remains unconsumed after a feeding, the fat cells will remain in the breast ducts and be available for the next feeding. However, the child may not receive the nourishment they need.
- Both hind and foremilk contain all the essential antibodies the child needs to develop a healthy immune system. The only change between these two types of milk is the fat content.
- Neither fore milk nor hind milk are fully balanced. It’s only when the foremilk has been consumed and the breast is producing a balance of lactose and fat that the baby receives proper nourishment. Hind milk simply makes up for the higher lactose concentration of the fore milk.
The human body is an amazing machine, one that produces everything you and your child need to survive. Understanding the difference between these two types of milk will help you take better care of your child.