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Any studies disproving the popular fore/hind milk misconception?

(9 Posts)
TruthSweet Fri 07-Jan-11 14:50:50

Has there been any studies done to prove that fore/hind milk doesn't exist as such as per kellymom's article? I've had a look around her site and found one from the Food & Nutrition Bulletin (Vol 17 No.4) which says:-

We also have shown that the difference in the fat content of breastmilk between the beginning and the end of a breastfeeding is related to the degree of fullness of the breast, rather than to whether it is either fore or hind milk [63]

The thing is it's still talking about fore/hind milk as though they are fixed concepts when they have found something that contradicts the 'theory' of milk production consisting of fore milk then hind milk being produced.

Has the fore/hind milk production been disproved and we are now supposed to just refer to milk or are we still supposed explain things using the terms? I worry when I hear women or HCP saying things like 'you must empty all the fore milk out before you get to the hind milk' or 'squeeze some milk out to check whether your breasts have started to make hind milk' and am not sure if it's now common knowledge or if it's still an accepted explanation of milk production?

Does this make any sense to anyone? I hope so as I'm confusing myself*

* I understand that breasts make one kind of milk but depending on the length of time between production and extraction the fat content decreases so I'm clear on that - I'm just not sure how to refer to it!

BarryShitpeas Fri 07-Jan-11 15:00:04

There have been some discussions about this on Lactnet recently.

Are you asking for your own info or are you writing a paper/article about it?

tiktok Fri 07-Jan-11 15:03:38

Truth - AFAIK there's never been a theory that foremilk and hindmilk are separate 'bits' of production - all that is just the crappy way people who should know better have interpreted it (and written about it, and told mothers about it).

It was/is Hartmann's group of researchers in Australia that named it foremilk and hindmilk, and I do think understanding that milk changes is useful. I find calling it 'foremilk' and 'hindmilk' without the 'the' in front helps dispel the idea there is a sort of cut-off.

It drives me crazy as well. A few times a week on mumsnet we hear someone being told/telling someone that they have to ensure the baby gets 'the hindmilk' or even 'through to the hindmilk' as if you have to drill down, and as if everything but 'the hindmilk' is dishwater

This is the origin of the daft notion that babies should only ever have one breast per feed 'so they get the hindmilk'

japhrimel Fri 07-Jan-11 15:35:17

I don't know of specific research, but it isn't two seperate kinds of milk. An infant feeding specialist explained it to that your boobs produce some fatty milk throughout the feed, but at the beginning there is more watery milk too, so it's runnier. As the boobs empty, less watery milk comes out but the same amount of fattier milk comes out, so overall, the milk is fattier. She also said that the baby needs to get its chin into the boob to help dislodge the fat molecules from the milk ducts.

The more watery milk not only contains more water (for hydration) but also contains more sugars and proteins afaik. So your LO needs a good balance to get a balanced diet.

tiktok Fri 07-Jan-11 15:38:32

I think the OP knows it's not two sep. milks, japhrimel - she was wondering how this misconception began and how to disprove it.

I have not heard that about the chin into the breast dislodging the fat, but that sounds like a good attachment, and that might well be another benefit of getting a good attachment - it gives a 'deeper' latch.

MigGril Fri 07-Jan-11 16:03:16

I've been told by my suppervisor that the terms formilk and hindmilk actualy originated from the dairy industry and reffure to a sample of milk taken from the cow at the start of milking and then at the end of milking.

MigGril Fri 07-Jan-11 16:04:16

Should have added that the milk actualy gradualy changes during a feed though. Also fat content depends on other factors to.

Dropdeadfred Fri 07-Jan-11 16:07:19

I always wondered abou this if I ever expressed and could only get a couple of ounces..always worried it wasnt the 'best stuff' ie hind milk

TruthSweet Fri 07-Jan-11 16:27:48

Barry - I'm a peer supporter (and the group I volunteer for's research/info bod) so I'm interested in how it came about and how I/we should correctly refer to the differing stages of milk as consumed by a baby when talking to mothers.

Tiktok - Thank you for your reply. So no referring to 'the hind milk' as though it is a separate entity to breast milk just hind milk.

I've read some of the Human Lactation Research Group's work before so I must have missed that one - must read more throughly in future blush.

To clarify I was using 'theory' in laymans terms (i.e. to mean 'idea that sounds plausible', rather than to mean 'many serious studies done and masses of data analysed to give a thoroughly researched and cohesive understanding').

MigGril - I have some vague notion I read that fore/hind milk was a research artifact (i.e. only existed because it was being studied not because it actually exists normally IFYSWIM) due to milk being examined from before and after a feed and it being posited that the breast manufactures different milk at different times through the feed. Can I find where I read that? Of course not.....

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