Hindmilk: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Definition, Information, and How To Collect Hindmilk

What is Hindmilk? Definition, Information, and Collection of Hindmilk
Hindmilk makes your baby feel full and sleepy. dm909/Moment Open/Getty Images

What Is Hindmilk?

Hindmilk is the high-fat, high-calorie breast milk that your baby gets toward the end of a feeding. It's richer, thicker, and creamier than foremilk, the breast milk that your baby gets when he first starts to breastfeed. The color of hindmilk is creamy white.

Hindmilk satisfies your baby's hunger and makes your baby feel full and sleepy. It also helps your baby feel fuller longer.

See Also: Mature Breast Milk

How to Get to the Hindmilk

When your baby is a newborn or a young infant, you should breastfeed for about 10 to 15 minutes on each breast. In the early days of breastfeeding, it could take longer for your breast milk to let-down, which is an important part of your baby getting enough breast milk. If, instead of watching the clock, you allow your baby to breastfeed longer, you will give your baby more time to empty your breasts and get to that higher calorie hindmilk.

As your baby gets older, he won't need to breastfeed as long to get to get a full feeding of foremilk and hindmilk. You may find that your baby can nurse for less than 10 minutes and get all that he needs.

Not Enough Hindmilk or Too Much Foremilk

Your baby needs to get enough hindmilk to feel satisfied between feedings and to gain weight and grow. If your baby does not breastfeed long enough at each feeding, he may not get enough breast milk, and he certainly won't get enough hindmilk.

Another issue that can prevent your baby from getting enough hindmilk is an overabundant milk supply. When you have an overabundant supply of breast milk, your baby may get a lot of foremilk and fill up before getting to the hindmilk.

If your baby gets too much foremilk or not enough hindmilk, you may notice the following symptoms:

If your baby shows signs of too much foremilk, you can try to breastfeed from only one breast at each feeding to help your baby get more hindmilk.

Hindmilk for Babies Who Are Not Gaining Weight Well

You should always talk to your baby's doctor if you have any concerns about your baby's weight. The doctor will keep track of your baby's weight and growth and let you know if you need to take any special measures to help your baby gain more weight. If you do not have a low breast milk supply, you can ask your child's doctor about breastfeeding your baby more hindmilk. You can do this by pumping for a minute or two before you begin to breastfeed your baby. By pumping before you breastfeed, you will remove some of the foremilk and your baby will get more of the high-calorie, high-fat hindmilk.

However, if your breast milk supply is low, you should not pump before you breastfeed to try to give your baby more hindmilk.

Instead, you want your baby to get as much breast milk as possible, so nurse your baby on both sides until both breasts are empty. If your baby is still not satisfied, you may need to give your baby a supplement along with breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about supplementing your baby with your expressed breast milk that you pump after each feeding or with an infant formula.

Hindmilk for Premature Babies or Babies with Health Issues

Premature babies and babies who are born with certain health issues can benefit from hindmilk. If your baby is premature and in the hospital, you can talk the hospital staff about collecting and feeding your preemie hindmilk. Since hindmilk is higher in fat and calories, it can help your preemie to gain weight.

Hindmilk may also be helpful for infants with heart, lung, kidney, and stomach problems. Discuss the use of hindmilk with your baby's doctor.

How to Separate and Collect Hindmilk for Sick or Premature Babies

  1. To collect hindmilk for your premature baby, you should use a breast pump and separate the foremilk from the hindmilk as you pump.
  2. When you begin pumping your breast milk, it will be thin and watery. Pump for about 2 minutes then remove the collection container from the pump. This collection will contain foremilk.
  3. Now, place a new collection container on your breast pump and continue pumping until your breast is empty. The thicker, creamier breast milk that you get at the end of your pumping session is your hindmilk.
  4. Label your foremilk and your hindmilk collections.
  5. Give the container of your hindmilk to the hospital staff to use for your baby now, and place your foremilk in the freezer to store for the future.

Pumping After Breastfeeding and the Collection of Hindmilk

If you pump after you breastfeed your baby, it provides extra stimulation to your breasts which can help to increase your milk supply. But, it also removes a little bit of breast milk, as well. The breast milk that you collect when you pump immediately after breastfeeding on the breast or breasts that you nursed from is hindmilk. Since this hindmilk is high in calories and fat, it makes an excellent supplement if your baby needs it.

Note: If you only breastfeed from one side at each feeding, then the breast milk that you collect from the unused breast after breastfeeding will be foremilk for the first few minutes of pumping.

How to Find Out More About Hindmilk

If you have any questions about hindmilk or your baby's growth or health, talk to your doctor or your baby's doctor. A lactation professional or a local breastfeeding support group can also provide advice and assistance.  

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

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