How long does it take to access hindmilk?

My one month-old son would stay on my breast all day if I let him. My doctor advised to limit him to 20 minutes on each side. He weighed 10 lbs. 5 oz. at birth. At 1 month, now weighs 11 lbs. 1 oz. How long does it take to get to the hindmilk?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Dear Alice,

My concern is the amount of time your little one is staying at your breast. Though many young babies love camping out at their favorite place, and have no problem whatsoever, there are several things you might want to keep an eye on.

First, it seems as if your baby has been gaining weight normally. Most babies initially lose some weight (less than 10%) following the birth. By the second week most are back to birth weight. Since your baby has gained 12 ounces, he has gained an average of 6 ounces each week over the past 2 weeks. That's smack in the middle of what is considered to be a normal weight gain for a baby of this age(4 to 8 ounces per week).

Are you experiencing any nipple soreness? If so, there may be a problem with positioning and attachment. See my article, Back to Basics: Nursing Your Newborn for some help in this area. You want to hug your baby close as he takes a good mouthful of your breast.

How long does a feed actually last? It is not unusual for a baby to spend 40 minutes nursing. It may seem like all day if you have a lot you would like to accomplish. I would not recommend limiting your baby's feeds to 20 minutes on each side, particularly at this time. If positioning and attachment isn't too great, if your baby's suck is not very effective (for one reason or the other), or if your milk supply is on the low side, your baby may not receive the amount of milk he needs during limited feeds.

How frequently do you nurse your baby? Young babies need to nurse at least 10 to 12 times each day. Allow him to remain at one breast until he comes off on his own. You both will know when he has gotten to the hindmilk. He will be relaxed and satisfied. Actually foremilk transitions to hindmilk throughout a feed, so it is impossible to say exactly when your milk becomes lower in volume and higher in fat. The timing of this transition depends on how full your breasts are, the effectiveness of your baby's suck (older baby's are very efficient nursers, often finishing their meal in 5 minutes), how long since the last feed... This is why it is important to allow your baby to control his feed.

If you don't see any improvement within a few days of trying these suggestions, I would highly recommend working along with A Board Certified Lactation Consultant to determine what is going on in your particular situation. Best wishes!

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