If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you may be feeling unsure if your breast milk supply has all the nutrients your baby needs. Are you looking for ways to make your breast milk fattier for your little one? That is a common concern to have, and there are ways to increase fat in your breast milk.
You might be wondering if there are foods that can up your fat content or protein or vitamins to take. Not to worry, Greater Than has you covered with ways to increase the fat content of your breast milk and why it might be helpful for you to do so.
Why Is Breast Milk Fat Important for Your Baby?
Did you know that your breast milk fat can help your baby gain the weight they need? Your baby will triple its birth weight and grow nearly ten inches all by their first birthday.
Their bodies need the energy and calories to grow, which can be provided by the fat content in your breast milk. Fats help their physical growth and the development of their brain, eyes, and nervous system.
How Many Calories and Fat Content Are in Your Breast Milk?
Breast milk contains around 11 grams of total fat in one cup of breast milk. The composition of breast milk shows that fats make up to 3 to 5 percent of all the nutrients found in breast milk.
These numbers change throughout the day and can be caused by a variety of factors. This can be from decreasing fat levels, how full your breasts are, and your baby’s age.
What Causes Fattier Breast Milk?
Fat in your breast milk can constantly change throughout the day and as your baby ages. Your fat content in your breasts is usually determined by how full and empty your breast is. If you have a newborn, they require nursing around the clock, so your fat content is likely to be much higher in your breast milk than a toddler who occasionally gets their fats from table food and nurses.
You may be surprised, but your diet does not have a huge impact on the quantity of your breast milk. It only changes the type of saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.
How Do You Know If You Need to Make Your Breast Milk Fattier?
It’s a normal fear to think your breast milk may not be enough. Here are some of the signs you should look out for if you believe you need to increase the fat content in your breast milk:
- Your baby is not gaining the necessary weight as expected despite the frequent feeding sessions.
- Your baby is losing weight. Although it is normal for your baby to lose weight in the week after their birth, your baby should be regaining weight through your breast milk. Consult with your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you believe your baby is showing signs of losing weight.
- Your baby is easily cold, which could be a sign of hypothermia. If your baby is losing heat quickly, it could be from lack of fats to maintain and regulate their body temperature. This can be a sign to increase the fat content in your own breast milk in order to help give them the necessary facts they need.
What Is Foremilk and Hindmilk?
The most important thing to know about your breastmilk are the two different types of milk your breasts store. Both are important to your baby’s growth and development, but one is typically higher in fat than the other.
Foremilk is the milk that your baby drinks at the beginning of a feeding. It is mostly water combined with other nutrients. It is thinner and can fill your baby up, but it won’t keep them satisfied for long.
Babies who drink only foremilk tend to have to nurse more often, leading to overeating. Too much foremilk is also believed to cause stomach and gastrointestinal issues in babies.
Hindmilk is the milk that follows foremilk, typically at the end of a feeding, and is highly fatty. It usually takes ten to fifteen minutes for your baby to get through the first milk, and as your breast empties, the milk flows slowly and becomes richer.
You may be wondering if there is a way to get rid of foremilk, but it’s actually necessary if your baby has both because foremilk and hindmilk contain lactose and nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop.
Over the course of a full feeding, your baby will ingest all the foremilk and hindmilk they need.
If you believe your baby is suffering from a foremilk and hindmilk balance, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider, but know there are steps you can take to correct it.
How Can You Make Your Breast Milk Fattier?
Fat does play a critical role in helping your little one develop. That’s why Greater Than has provided a helpful mini guide on ways to make sure your body is making fattier breast milk. This can help increase the fat content of your breast milk.
Incorporate More Healthy Fats into Your Diet
Although we mentioned that your diet does not necessarily impact the quantity of fat in your breast milk, it does affect which type.
Unsaturated fats are a healthy fat. They are typically found in nuts, salmon, avocados, seeds, eggs, and olive oil. These types of fats are important for both you and your baby’s diet. What you eat, your baby will also eat in some form.
If you focus on increasing your fat intake through unsaturated fats and limiting saturated and trans fat, you can increase the fat content in your breastmilk.
Everything in moderation, though! You do not have to cut out every single bit of saturated or processed foods. You deserve to eat what you want, whether it’s a bacon cheeseburger or a buttery biscuit, so long as it’s done in moderation.
Consider Eating More Protein
Protein is an essential part of your diet and your little one’s, too. It also makes up a part of your breast milk as well.
If you consume more protein, it can help to increase your breast milk supply. This means more milk and more protein for your baby, which can then help to make your breast milk fattier.
The best way to incorporate protein into your diet is through chicken, lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and seeds. If you are a vegetarian or need help upping your protein intake, consider getting a protein supplement or powder for a shake. This can be a great way to meet your protein goals in an easy manner.
Drain Your Breast After a Nursing Session
Your breast milk production comes from within the alveoli, which are clusters of cells within your breast. Once your milk is made, it is squeezed through the alveoli and into your milk ducts.
Your baby should drain your breast during a feeding session because once the thin, watery foremilk is ingested, the denser and heavier hindmilk helps them grow and become more sustained.
Wait until they are done emptying one breast, and if they are still hungry, switch to the other. Switching can help build up a healthy supply of breast milk, keep them nursing for longer, and provide more milk at each feeding.
If they do not drain your other breast, it can be helpful to pump in order to have a supply for later, prevent a clogged milk duct, and increase your milk supply.
Consider the Time of Day and Use a Journal
Consider getting a journal and documenting notes about each breastfeeding session if you do not already have one. You can start to notice patterns of when your breasts are more full. Perhaps your breasts are fuller during the morning, afternoon, or evening.
This is different for every mother, but typically, the overall fat in breast milk is highest in the evening and at night. If your baby is sleeping when your breasts are full, that would be a good time to pump in order to store your breast milk for later, especially if it’s higher in fat during this time.
Using a Breast Pump for Extra Pumping
Using a breast pump can be a helpful tool to help you increase milk production and have a higher fat content. An empty breast usually correlates to fattier breast milk, but we know this might not always be possible, so pumping can help with this.
Consider the times you pump throughout the day. It may help to pump prior to feeding. Some mothers find it helpful to pump out the thinner foremilk, save it, and then have their baby nurse for the hindmilk.
Doing this a few times a day can be an easy way to have your baby get more fat in their bodies, especially if you are concerned they are not growing or eating enough.
Consider Separating Your Breast Milk
If you pump more often, you can separate your breast milk when you make bottles.
To do so, start pumping like normal, and after one or two minutes, when your breast milk begins to flow steadily, turn off the pump. We know that the first few minutes are your foremilk, so consider feeding your baby your hindmilk right away or starting a new bottle.
When you switch off the pump, this should only be about a third of the usual amount you pump. Continue pumping with a new bottle until your breasts are drained.
You should be able to see an obvious difference between the consistencies of the two bottles.
Incorporate Breast Compressions
Breast compressions and massages are another easy way to make your breast milk fattier and prevent uncomfortable blocked ducts and mastitis.
Place one hand on your breast and squeeze gently, so it pushes the milk out easier through the nipple. This is done while your baby is breastfeeding.
Is Your Baby Frequently Eating?
Although it may sound strange, it's true that the more frequent the feedings, there is a higher amount of fat content.
The fat content in your breast milk corresponds to the number of times you feed your baby. When you nurse your child faster than your breast milk replenishes, your baby is more likely to get the hindmilk.
Consider breastfeeding on demand or upping the amount of times you feed your baby throughout the day.
When Should You See a Doctor About Your Breast Milk?
The most important sign to watch out for is your baby’s weight. This can be the biggest sign that points to a possible issue with the fat content in your breast milk. If your baby is not gaining the weight they need, or losing weight, then reach out to your doctor.
Let Greater Than Help Promote Healthy Lactation
Although it’s normal to have concerns, feel anxious, or overwhelmed when you’re new at breastfeeding, it’s important to remember that you are doing a great job. If your baby is growing and your doctor agrees that they are making the necessary weight gains, then chances are your breast milk is sufficient.
Reach out to your doctor or healthcare provider if you are concerned about a foremilk and hindmilk imbalance or your baby has an aversion to eating. Don’t be discouraged by any hiccups you may experience on your breastfeeding journey, it is normal and expected!
If you’re looking to increase the fat content in your breastmilk, remember that most of the fatty milk is found in your hindmilk and is towards when your breast is near empty. Be sure to pump or nurse often and let your little one finish one breast before moving to the other.
Greater Than has your back when it comes to providing you with refreshing and hydrating drinks for you and the whole family and providing you the information you need to make the best choices for you and your little one.