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Baby never empties breast

(14 Posts)
wukter Tue 11-Aug-09 14:00:39

I wonder can one of the BF experts here claify something for me? I was advised to ensure baby empties one breast at a time to get a proper balance of foremilk and hindmilk. I see other people being advised to switch breasts during a feed. But if your breasts never switch off - someone on another thread compared them to a running tap - what difference does it make? DD (7 wks) is a v efficient feeder 10 - 15 mins on one breast every 3/4 hrs seems to do her and afterwards there is still milk when I squeeze nipple. So not "empty". She is gaining weight though slowly, plentiful nappies and alert & happy.
This site is a godsend for me- v little RL support, have sorted a few issues already from other threads so thanks.

peachsmuggler Tue 11-Aug-09 14:19:26

Am no expert, but as far as I understand it, there is no such thing as emptying a breast, as it will always have some milk left, and as long as you feed whenever the baby wants, you don't need to worry about foremilk and hindmilk as the baby will get exactly what they need from the feed. Your breasts make milk as the baby feeds so you will never be "empty".

Your baby is gaining weight and has plentiful nappies and is happy. Seems you are getting on fine! smile

HoppityBunny Tue 11-Aug-09 14:21:12

I agree

CMOTdibbler Tue 11-Aug-09 14:21:29

You can't empty a breast as milk is always being made. However you can get to a point where all the reserves have been drunk, so the baby is only getting milk as it's being made. In that case, if they are still hungry, swapping to the other breast will enable them to drink more, more quickly.

The foremilk/hindmilk thing is something normally only produced by people who don't really understand human lactation properly. Apart from in a very few cases, it all just works out

If your DD is happy with one breast, thats great, but mostly its a good idea to offer both per feed

tiktok Tue 11-Aug-09 14:21:35

wukter - anyone who advises a baby 'empties' one breast at a time to get a 'proper balance of hindmilk and foremilk' can safely be ignored Who said this, BTW? Or did you read it somewhere - it is in one or two (rubbish) books.

This advice is a real give away - the person does not understand how bf works.

When bf is going well (and it certainly seems to be doing so with you) the breast will not empty. There is always something there you can squeeze

There are other threads which explain this.

If you dd is doing fine, then you don't need to be concerned. Offer her the other side if you think she might take it - there is no point in deliberately not offering

thisisyesterday Tue 11-Aug-09 14:23:15

you are right, breasts never "empty" although they do get emptier iyswim? but you produce milk constantly.
as your baby feeds the milk does gradually become fattier. so it is important that you allow the baby to have a full feed from each side, coming off when s/he is ready.

basically what i am saying is that although breasts produce milk constantly the composition of that milk changes throughout the feed. it starts off more watery and then changes to a fattier composition. if you switch sides too early your baby will fill up on more of the less calorific stuff or "foremilk"

tiktok Tue 11-Aug-09 14:30:08

Hmmmmm.....I've seen this quite a bit on mumsnet, this idea that the breasts produce milk 'constantly' and it's not really true. Milk production does cease at times, and then starts up again.

It's also not really true that the milk becomes more fatty as the feed progresses - it can be true, but not necessarily. A baby feeding very often for shortish periods of time will typically have milk that's relatively higher in fat because the breasts are less full...and less full breasts = fattier milk. A baby who has left a few hours between feeds will typically have the 'progressively fattier feed' as he removes the milk, because fuller breasts = less fatty milk, at first.

Honestly, if the baby's doing fine, we don't need to even think about the engineering of it all

wukter Tue 11-Aug-09 14:49:25

Thanks for the replies smile
Tiktok - a few weeks ago dd's nappies went BRIGHT green (not tinge of green), I brought her to GP <<panicking new mum>> and mentioned it to HV, it was one of them that suggested it, nappies then returned to normal.
I think I had oversupply/fast letdown issues also, and because her feeds are only 10-15 mins usually, I started giving her 2 feeds on left then 2 feeds on right boob. She seems to be coping better with the flow of milk now, less gagging and wind though maybe she is just that bit older and bigger of course.
I've had some painful blocked ducts too and this approach seems to clear them also.
Its all a bit hit & miss - thanks everyone for your help (even when you didn't know you were helping).

thisisyesterday Tue 11-Aug-09 14:59:48

yes, a baby who feeds for a short time, but frequently will have higher fat content milk, but that fat content will still increase as the baby feeds for the precise reason you state. the emptier the breast the higher the fat content. obv the difference is much smaller than in a baby who has gone a long time between a feed tghough

the emptier the breast the faster you produce milk too, so just because a baby has only fed a short while before does not mean the breast has not had a chance to "replenish" so to speak

tiktok Tue 11-Aug-09 15:49:08

Yes, I see, thisisyesterday...the fat content still increases as the feed goes on

wukter - green poo is normal, and most babies probably have this occasionally and some all the time, but it can give you a fright! If it's associated with over supply - gallons of milk, baby overwhelmed, colicky symptoms, huge weight gains - then sticking to one side in a block of time reduces over supply and increases proportion of fat in milk, so it sort of makes sense what they told you.

But it's not 'emptying' the breast.

earplugs Tue 11-Aug-09 16:09:23

Blimey, it just goes to show how many bf 'myths' there are out there. I too was told that green nappies = too much foremilk and if there were a bit 'explosive', then it was probably due to too much lactose from the foremilk and shouldn't switch sides (my HV btw)

I seem to have read most of the rubbish books for bf (baby whisperer etc), and have picked up a lot of duff knowledge along the away. Is there a good bf book that you would recommend that gives the real facts? I like Kellymom but a book I could keep in my bag for a spare mo would be even better.

tiktok Tue 11-Aug-09 16:32:13

Green nappies may reflect 'intestinal hurry' - the poo has not stayed in the gut long enough to turn yellow. Now this may be because of a minor tummy bug, or it may be because the breastmilk is lower in fat than it might otherwise be, and whisks through the gut a tad more quickly ('cos fat slows down the digestive process). If it is a problem - say, the baby is unhappy and colicky - then the way breastfeeding is 'organised' can be looked at. This might mean suggesting the baby stays on one breast without switching sides. This will reduce the volume of milk, and therefore increase the fat.

If it's not a problem, then nothing needs to be done about it!

To talk about 'too much lactose' or 'not balanced' is to make it sound like there's some sort of perfect composition to aim at, and that's just not true . Usually babies can be relied on to get what they want and need and as long as they are responded to appropriately, all will be well

thisisyesterday Tue 11-Aug-09 17:50:27

earplugs, the womanly art of breastfeeding is worth a read IMO

earplugs Tue 11-Aug-09 22:52:51

Thanks for the info. I'm learning so much on here, Tiktok you deserve medal for your services to MN! It really is fantastic to be able to ask a professional all those Q's I'd never got the chance to before.

Reading through so many posts and realising that the baby already has the skills to know when, how and for how long it should feed with little interferance from well meaning mummy is a revelation (to me!) I can see with hindsight that many of the problems I had experienced were probably partly due to me 'meddling with the system' rather than having the confidence to trust myself and my baby to do the right thing. Sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing!

Will def get a copy of Womanly art, many thanks!

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