- How to tell if breast is empty
I wondered if anyone could help me?
My daughter is 3 weeks old and I've been breastfeeding her quite well (most of the time!) since she was born. I usually express in the morning too so DH can feed her, which is working out well.
My question is, how do I know if I'm empty or not? The HV told me to always make sure she empties one breast before offering her the other. When I squeeze them a little comes out, DH says that I'm squeezing them too hard and they are empty and I should offer her the other breast but to me if some came out its not empty no matter how hard I'm squeezing?
I want to make sure I'm doing it correctly as I want to avoid future problems.
Thanks in advance,
Scatter and Ella xxx
Isn't this just typical? You get some well-meaning advice and hey presto - it's useless.
Your breasts are NEVER empty. Your body makes milk in response to you feeding. The more you feed, the more milk you make. Milk comes in two stages - foremilk which is watery and high in sugars and acts as a drink, and hindmilk, which is creamy and high in fats and proteins, which is the baby's food. What your HV was trying to tell you was that you need to make sure your baby gets the hindmilk. This does NOT mean that you keep feeding on one breast until you can't squeeze out any more milk. It means feeding until your baby stops gulping what comes and settles down to swallowing more slowly and carrying on from there until your baby stops feeding of her own choice. You can then wind her and offer the second breast. A lot of babies will only take one breast at a time until they are older. Indications that your baby is getting enough hindmilk are:
- Lots of wet nappies
- Runny yellow poo - you may get this at every feed or as rarely as once every 10 days, this is all normal)
- Times when your baby is awake and alert
- Steady growth both in length and in weight. Don't get hung up on centiles or on how many ounces per week, you're looking for steady weight gain over a longer period. Your baby may gain little or nothing one week then put on loads a week later. Gain in length is also important - if she's outgrowing her clothes every now and then you're doing fine.
Indications that your baby may only be getting foremilk are:
- Continuous green poo
- Being windy, unsettled and constantly hungry
- Being unsettled at the breast
Though just to confuse you all of these may happen anyway and be due to colic and growth spurts. If you do get some of these signs you can try offering the same breast for two feeds in a row, that way your baby will definitely get hindmilk.
To be honest it sounds like you're doing really well and remember, all babies cry and have unsettled periods. It's also normal to feed continuously through late afternoon/early evening.
Hope this helps, sorry it's long.
Another point to make is that in the early days, your baby may well fall asleep at the breast and wake, wanting feeding again, within the hour. The main thing to do is to only offer one breast in any 3 hour period, so you can be sure baby is getting to the creamier hindmilk rather than just getting the foremilk from each breast each time they wake to feed.