Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative

I wrote an slightly different post this morning but in my early morning haze, I realized that I was mixing up my sources and facts. So here is the revised (and corrected) version!

Breast milk is an amazing thing and something we may not ever fully understand because its mysteries are infinite. The properties of its makeup can be dissected and broken apart, but there is an uncountable number of connections and interactions between the properties themselves and things that we cannot see that it would be almost impossible to fully unravel. It’s a whole food that has evolved specifically for the purpose of nourishing a baby.

Just like if you took an apple and broke it apart into only the seemingly beneficial ingredients, it would never have the same nutritional impact as the whole apple itself because there are so many connections that we can’t see.

A great example that I came across that shows that we are still learning about all the benefits of breast milk was in a small section of another article I just read by Michael Pollan. He writes about how for years researchers have tried to unravel the mystery of breast milk. In their breakdown of the makeup of breastmilk, they found it contained a complex carbohydrate that babies were in fact unable to digest. Without any apparent benefit to the baby, these complex carbohydrates weren’t taken into account until recently.

Upon further research, it turns out that there is actually a very good reason for the existence of this particular property and the baby’s inability to digest it. It is a very important aspect of a baby’s development. This component was undigested by the baby so it could be a source of food for a certain type of bacteria that helps to keep the baby healthy and to promote the development of the intestinal lining.

When it comes to Nature – there are reasons for everything!


P.S. And, as always, this post is coming from a point of love and support for those Mamas who are thinking about nursing, are currently breastfeeding, or have in the past and want to encourage others to give it a shot. In no way am I trying to discourage or make anyone feel bad about the decision they made/make. Either way, I SUPPORT YOU.

[Image via Flickr]

After my long breastfeeding post, I thought it would be a good idea to start a tip section on nursing. I realized afterwards that there were so many other tidbits that I had forgot to mention. Breastfeeding is a learn-as-you-go type of journey, with different things popping up at different milestones. It’s hard to remember everything, especially after you’ve settled into it and it becomes second nature.

This tip actually came to me after seeing a post by BirthRoots on Facebook about nursing and the importance of a foremilk and hindmilk balance.

So, just a brief description: Foremilk is the thinner milk with a lower fat content that comes out first during a nursing session (usually blueish/clearer in appearance). Hindmilk is the high-fat, creamier milk that follow and comes usually during the end of a nursing session (usually white/cream colored and opaque) If you pump, you will be able to see this distinction very easily. In my mind (which might not be completely accurate) but I see it as Foremilk being like a beverage – used for hydration- while the Hindmilk is the food that is used for nourishment and weight gain. Below is a photo for comparison:

[Image via Wikipedia]

With both my kids I had issues with a fore/hind milk balance when they were very young because they had a tendency to fall asleep at the breast before fully draining it. This resulted in gassy babies that didn’t gain as quickly as they could have in those early weeks. But with that said, it’s something easily remedied if you can read the signs.

For me, a good indicator on whether my babies weren’t getting enough hind milk was their diapers! If their poop was greenish rather than the normal seedy/yellow, I could tell they weren’t getting enough hind milk. Another indicator was if they were gassy, or fussy, or seemed unsatisfied shortly after nursing. If these things seemed to occur in tandem, I would be sure to not switch breasts during feedings and to continue nursing longer on each side.

The first time I saw the green poop, I called my sister Maria and was like – ack! what’s going on? She was the one who mentioned the foremilk/hindmilk thing, which I had never heard about! And, sure enough, after nursing longer on each side it went away.

Anyone else have issues with foremilk/hindmilk imbalance with their babies?