Breastfeeding Challenges: Imbalance Between Whole Milk and After Milk - Sunday Hug

Breastfeeding Challenges: Imbalance Between Whole Milk and After Milk

A baby girl wearing pink diapers with polka dots. She is crawling on a white fluffy blanket with a bear on it.

Question of the Day

“I heard a story from the postpartum care center telling you to be careful about the imbalance in breastfeeding. They said that it is enough to breastfeed for at least 15 minutes.”

You might have been breastfeeding your baby and your baby has had poo that resembles diarrhea all day. Seeing this, the elderly sometimes say that 'Mom's milk is wet milk'. However, you should not approach the mother's milk with the concept of 'wet milk', or ‘water milk’.

'Water milk' does not exist. The frequency of bowel movements may increase because of unbalanced types of milk during breastfeeding rather than 'water milk' alone. Furthermore, the stool of a breast-fed baby is thinner than that of a formula-fed baby, so it is more like diarrhea.

Tip: Common symptoms of a child who only eats whole milk from the breast:

- Watery and frequent stools.

- Some green stools.

- Pain in the stomach.

- Frequent passing of wind.

- Hunger, as they do not receive the fat content of after milk.

From whole milk to after milk!

So, what is whole milk, and what is after milk? The difference between 'whole milk' and 'after milk' is due to the fact that the fat content of milk varies slightly depending on the feeding time. At the beginning of lactation, whole milk is produced with a lot of water and carbohydrates, and as time goes by, after milk with a lot of fat content is produced.

We should not approach it with the notion that whole milk is unconditionally bad, and after milk is unconditionally good. Whole milk quenches the child's thirst because it has a lot of water, and the after milk is high in fat and calories, which gives the child a feeling of fullness. Whole milk also helps your baby's digestion.

How to avoid the all-you-can-eat imbalance?

Both of these types of milk are important to a child's growth. If only whole milk is fed, a rash on the buttocks may occur from diarrhea-like bowel movements, and if only after milk is fed, it will be difficult to quench your child's thirst properly.

Understanding the lactation time is important to avoid a whole milk imbalance. If you take 15 to 20 minutes to breastfeed your baby sufficiently, you will reach the natural balance between the whole milk and the after milk without any worries.

If possible, feed until one breast is empty (the mother will be able to experience the feeling of emptying herself), and then change the milk and give it directly to the child. If your child sucks too often or too short, consider whether they are consuming whole milk.

It could be that your child has a weak sucking power or doesn't know how to suck properly. In this case, they should not only latch onto the nipple when feeding, but you might also have to open the child's mouth wide to help them latch. If the baby eats only whole milk, which is low in fat, they will always be hungry. They may not gain enough weight either.

# Parenting advice from Director Hyang-Hwa Kwon

Do not stop breastfeeding because your baby’s stools are loose.

It is normal for breastfed children to have softer stools than formula-fed children. Also, the number of stools can vary widely. Even if breastfeeding children pass up to six stools a day, it may be normal for newborns.

Your baby's intestines may be immature, and they may have frequent bowel movements, so please be patient. If your baby doesn’t have more than one bowel movement per day, that too may be normal. If your child is gaining weight well, don't worry too much!


Author: Kwon Hyang-hwa

- Newborn Childcare Coach
- IBCLC International Breastfeeding Specialist
- Worked as the director of a postpartum care center for 10 years.