My breastfeeding journey: from bad latch to oversupply.
My first breastfeeding journey with Elijah was truly a breeze from the beginning: he latched properly right from birth, he fed for 30 minutes at a time every 3 hours, and he was always content afterwards. Though the journey abruptly stopped after 6 months for various reasons, it was an amazing journey without complication.
This breastfeeding journey with Noah is nothing like my first. First, he had a hard time to latch properly; it took us two weeks of struggle to get an efficient latch and one week of excruciating nipple pain. But we made it, and his latch is now close to perfection. Unfortunately, we are now facing another challenge: a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance due to an oversupply.
What's foremilk and what's hindmilk?
The foremilk is the first milk to come during a feeding. It has the consistency of skim milk -very watery-, low in fat and calories but it appears to be very sugary and abundant in lactose. The foremilk helps satisfy your baby’s thirst and stimulates energy and brain development.
The hindmilk is the milk at the end of a feeding. It's compared to whole milk -quite creamy-, very rich and high in fat. The hindmilk helps stimulate your baby’s growth.
If both are important, too much foremilk can result in less hindmilk being ingested.
How to determine if you have a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance?
There is a great chance of oversupply if your baby:
only feeds for short period of time -between five and ten minutes,
is fussy and restless after a feeding,
is very gassy and/or
has green-coloured, watery or foamy stools.
You may also notice a very forceful letdown -which can result in your baby swallowing lots of air and choking while feeding.
With an imbalance between the two, your baby may be full before reaching the hindmilk; he will get too much lactose at once and will not have enough lactase -the enzyme responsible for breaking down and digest the lactose.
Noah checked all of these boxes. Even though he is gaining enough weight, it interferes with his sleep and therefore his happiness.
How to fix an imbalance due to oversupply?
There are different ways to adjust the imbalance: allowing your baby to nurse on the same breast twice in a row, pumping one ounce of milk prior to feeding, shorter times between feedings, longer feeding sessions.
Personally, I chose to pump and only feed Noah by the bottle for a whole week to try to regulate our feeding schedule. This prevents him from falling asleep on the breast before the hindmilk kicks in, as well as choking on my letdown and swallowing air. This helps him to get a mixed amount of foremilk and hindmilk, to be less gassy, which results in better and longer sleep, and inevitably in a happier baby. After only one day of pumping, his stool is back to a mustard yellow colour, he is a lot less gassy and fussy, and he sleeps for longer periods of time. My goal is to have a good feeding pattern so my body doesn't oversupply. Eventually, I will slowly ease back into breastfeeding, only pumping prior to feeding if my letdown seems too strong.
I am not ready to give up on my breastfeeding journey yet!