The Best or Works For Us?
If you read a book, or magazine article, or check the all-knowing internet, you will find advice on the best of breastfeeding. The best way to breastfeed. The best bottle for a breastfed baby. The best breastfeeding accessories.
Why does there always have to be a best?
Why can’t there be a “works for us”?
It’s not a competition!
There is rarely something that should be done exactly the same way for every single breastfeeding mom and baby. Sometimes, actually, most of the time, it’s just figuring out what works best for you and your baby, at that point in time!
Foremilk and Hindmilk
The latest thing out there that has mamas stressing out is the whole foremilk and hindmilk controversy.
Mamas are told they “need” to make sure their baby gets to the hindmilk. Some moms are even calling it the “good” milk.
Stress usually equals guilt, and no mama needs to feel guilt over how she is breastfeeding her little one. For sure you don’t need to stress if you and your little one are happy and he is gaining a normal amount of weight.
Especially when those little ones are big. And some are. Big.
Nothing makes me giggle more than a mom who brings a baby who looks like this, to my breastfeeding group.
And asks how she makes sure he gets her hindmilk. I tell her that I’m pretty sure that she makes straight up cream
If you haven’t been caught up in this whole tidal wave of different kinds of milk, let me fill you in. Or, just don’t worry about it. Keep doing what you are doing, because if your baby is happy and gaining weight at a normal rate, there’s no need to give it a second thought.
However, if you want to sound like you’re in the know when other moms start talking about it, read on. Or maybe you are just darn curious what all the fuss is about.
Foremilk is the milk your baby gets when he first starts nursing. As the breast drains, the fat content increases and it’s called the hindmilk.
You may have seen stress inducing pictures of watery looking foremilk, compared to creamy looking hindmilk.
This picture shows the difference in fat content in the same bottle. Sometimes you will see two different bottles, one with a thin, bluish looking milk and the other with milk that is thicker and a more yellow color. The foremilk might be referred to as skim milk, while the hindmilk is referred to as cream.
I always have wondered why nobody talks about the middle milk?
Is it a Thing?
Moms worry that their bundle of baby isn’t nursing long enough to get the hindmilk. They worry that they aren’t producing enough of it or something else that the vast majority of moms just don’t need to even think about.
Most of the time, for most babies, it’s not a thing.
Bottom line, if your baby is happy and gaining weight then it’s not a thing for your baby.
But, what if it is a thing?
What if your baby has green poops?
Is he still happy and gaining weight? Not a thing.
But what if he’s cranky? Not gaining weight? Could be a thing. It may not necessarily be this thing though.
If you are worried about fussiness in your baby, or low weight gain, the best thing to do is work with a lactation consultant. She can help you figure out if this is your thing.
If you are worried it’s this foremilk/hindmilk thing, you can try block feeding.
Block feeding is where you offer the same breast every time your baby wants to eat for a period (i.e. block) of time. The thinking goes that this will help thoroughly drain the breast and your baby will get to the hindmilk.
The blocks of time can vary widely though. Usually, a mom will start with a three or four hour block of time.
Block feeding is appropriate when a mom has oversupply.
True story…I worked with one mama who had to eventually go to an eight hour block. Neither she nor her baby were very happy for a couple weeks. We finally got her supply under control and they went on to have a long nursing relationship. That is by far the longest block of time I’ve ever had to have a mom do.
She only had to do that for a short time, but for her, it was what her baby needed. I don’t recommend doing something this drastic unless you are following the advice of a lactation consultant who has done a thorough consult.
Sometimes oversupply is referred to as hyperlactation. Gotta love those long, professional sounding medical terms. Oversupply works just as well in my opinion. I like terms that everyone knows what I’m talking about.
Too much milk for my baby is a good way to phrase it as well.
There are some books and articles (I’m not going to call anyone out) that recommend everyone block feed. If it works for your baby, go for it. But if this is not a thing for you, that is going to result in underfeeding, and possibly, a decrease in your supply.
It sure wouldn’t have worked for me or a lot of the mamas I have worked with.
One size does not fit all!
One Side or Both Sides???
You may find other books and articles that recommend feeding on one breast per feeding. Other sources might tell you to always feed on both sides.
This again will depend on you and how much milk you can store in your breasts.
You always want to let your baby finish on the first side and if that fills him up, he may not want the second side.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s not one size fits all. Do what results in a happy baby who grows well. That is really the bottom line.
Also, remember that a healthy baby is not always a chubby baby. I have never quite figured out why we are so concerned about rising obesity rates and yet we are not happy unless a baby has more rolls than the Michelin Man.
These are healthy, non Michelin babies.
In those first few days, I do recommend offering both sides at a feeding. Once your milk comes in your baby will decide if one side is enough, or two sides does a better job of filling him up.
It can also depend on the time of day. Moms tend to have more milk in the morning hours, and it often is lowest in the late afternoon. This is the time of day that babies often cluster feed.
And just to make things interesting, a baby wanting one or both sides can change over time as your milk supply regulates.
Confused? Don’t Be!
If you are confused by now, go back to my tried and true advice. If what you are doing is working and you have a happy baby who is growing well and you are a happy mom, then don’t change a thing.
Because for you and your baby, these things are not a thing.
I’ve worked with breastfeeding moms for my whole professional career. Even before I became a lactation consultant. I’ve seen all kind of trends come and go. I often wonder what it is today that we will look back on and say, “I can’t believe we told moms to do that.”
Tried and true advice is to listen to your inner voice. It is usually very wise
Why you need to find your breastfeeding tribe.
Have you had concerns or conflicting information? What was the most confusing thing you were told about breastfeeding? Share in the comments below.
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