How do you know when your baby has emptied your breast? in Breastfeeding

Posted by Anonymous on - 1 reply

My baby is just over 2 weeks old and we are exclusively breastfeeding. He is gaining weight.
A few days ago I found my breasts were getting very big (full feeling) and quite red. I went to to nurse to check I wasnt getting mastitis and she advised that if I had no fever the redness could just be my skin adjusting to the sudden growth. A friend also mentioned that I could be transferring the baby over to the other breast to feed too soon and to try giving the baby the same breast for at least one if not two feeds to really make sure he is getting the hind milk. I have tried this for two days and my breasts feel much more comfortable, however I am still not sure how best to assess when to transfer over to the other breast. For example sometimes he will feed.for a good 15/20 min and I feel like that's a good feed time, other times he just seems to want a top up of 5mins. So in the times he seems to only have taken a small amount from one breast I try to make sure he goes back.on that breast for the next feed (even if that's a few hours later) and I am wondering if he will get the hindmilk from that breast or will my body have made.more foremilk after an hour or so and will the hind.milk build up at the back of that breast ??
I hope this query makes sense.
Thank you for your help !


Users' Replies

Oct 8, 2017 09:20 AM

Thank you very much for your question to Wellvine. It sounds like you’re doing a fantastic job with your new baby and have already achieved a huge amount in your first 2 weeks. It sounds like your milk supply is good and is responding to your baby’s needs. As well as your baby’s weight gain I imagine you’re seeing lots of wet and dirty nappies to show how your milk is being transferred so well.

There are no strict rules about switching breasts. As you’ve already observed, your baby sometimes would just like a cup of tea and other times might stay on the breast for longer as they would like roast beef with all the trimmings! Our babies’ needs are the same as ours. We don’t want to eat a big meal all the time and as babies receive all their drinks as well as their food at the breast sometimes they might just spend a short time there. We also understand from research that babies gain so much more than just nutrition at the breast. It is a place of safety, bonding, temperature regulation, heart-calming etc etc.

The information you have heard about foremilk and hind milk refers to the slight changes in breastmilk composition that take place as the breast becomes emptier. As the breast becomes emptier the milk becomes more fat-rich. This does not mean that the earlier milk was less good – it’s all fantastic stuff! Our babies are very capable and instinctive about what they need. We cannot force them to breastfeed if they don’t want to. They will sometimes stop feeding on 1 breast and start moving across a mother’s chest to the second breast themselves. It sounds like you are learning what works for you and your baby. Your strategy of coming back to the same breast if your baby had a short feed there last time sounds like a good one. If you forget sometimes however it doesn’t matter and if one breast feels fuller and uncomfortable then start there first. Your milk supply is just learning to respond and it’s very early days. Over the coming weeks you and your baby will have found a pattern that works for the two of you.

I hope that this information is helpful.

Best wishes, Sharon George IBCLC, WellVine