For a lot of breastfeeding moms, research is key to know what's going on with their body and to make them feel more comfortable with the entire process. There's a lot more to nursing than getting a baby to latch on to your boob, but it also seems like the more information you read, the more overwhelmed you can become. Like moms researching their breast milk's color and hearing about foremilk and hindmilk. But does foremilk look different from hindmilk or is this the type of research that confuses a new mom even more?
Totally stumped about two different kinds of breast milk? Been there. According to La Leche League International, it's not too confusing. Foremilk is a thinner milk that your baby gets first when they latch on to nurse and the hindmilk is a high-fat, creamier milk that follows. Your body's not making two types of milk though; this is the same milk, but the fat content varies depending on how long the milk has been in your ducts and how much of it is removed from your breasts.
According to Kelly Mom, knowing about foremilk and hindmilk helps you make sure to let your baby finish nursing on one breast before moving to another so that they are getting all of that high-fat milk that comes later in the session.
But none of this should worry any breastfeeding mom. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Tori Sproat, owner of Tiny Tummies Lactation Services, tells Romper that the "foremilk and hindmilk theory was disproven." Meaning, the theory that your body is making two different types of milk isn't true. Foremilk is simply the milk at the beginning of a nursing session and hindmilk is what follows.
Sproat shared an article with Romper about foremilk and hindmilk, which argued that showing the difference in appearance of foremilk and hindmilk can be misconstrued. Many moms believe they are making two different types of milk and that foremilk and hindmilk look very different from each other, but when combined, all of the milk is the same. Because most samples showing the difference are taken right at the beginning of a feeding and right at the end, there's no way to see how your breast milk changes in appearance throughout an entire nursing session.
An article from Nancy Mohrbacher, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, noted that foremilk isn't always low-fat either. The fat content in both your foremilk and hindmilk can vary depending on how long it's been since you nursed your baby last, if your baby is nursing more than usual, or if your breasts have been fully drained.
The only difference you may ever notice about foremilk and hindmilk is when you pump. Kelly Mom noted that, sometimes, when refrigerated, your breast milk can separate with a watery milk on the bottom as the creamier, fattier content rises to the top. But again, this will vary depending on your breastfeeding patterns for the day, so you shouldn't worry at all about it. The two don't look different, they just have a slightly different make-up, depending on the fat content.
If you're truly concerned about foremilk and hindmilk and how it affects your baby, reach out to an IBCLC. But as Sproat noted, the theory that you need to make sure your baby is getting both foremilk and hindmilk and that one is always fattier than the other has been disproven. Feed your baby, nurse when they want to nurse, and you should be more than OK.