A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. This has never been so true as in the ongoing debate about foremilk and hindmilk and their impact on breastfeeding. The misunderstandings around these concepts have caused anxiety, upset, and even led to breastfeeding problems and premature weaning.
The 2003 edition of The Breastfeeding Answer Book defines these terms this way:
“The milk the baby receives when he begins breastfeeding is called the ‘foremilk,’ which is high in volume but low in fat. As the feeding progresses, the fat content of the milk rises steadily as the volume decreases. The milk near the end of the feeding is low in volume but high in fat and is called the ‘hindmilk’” (Mohrbacher and Stock, p. 34).
It goes on to explain that by simply letting the baby “finish the first breast first”—switching breasts when the baby comes off the breast on his own rather than after a set time—the mother can be sure her baby receives the “proper balance of fluid and fat.” Since this book was published, research has expanded our understanding of foremilk and hindmilk and answered many of the common questions mothers have about these concepts.
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