Q: How can you tell if the quality of milk that is being produced is good?
A: There are no reasons to suspect that human milk would not be of the finest quality. Sometimes mothers might look at the first drops of milk they can squeeze from the breasts and see that it looks thin and watery. This is the early foremilk, a wonderfully nutritious milk that is just a bit lower in fat content. As the milk is removed from the breast, the fat content becomes higher and higher, so if the same mother looks at her milk later during a nursing, she would see a thicker, whiter looking milk.
In times past, physicians would look at this early milk and tell the mothers that their milk was too thin. They did not understand the physiology of milk production, and their lack of knowledge caused many women to doubt their milk and their body’s ability to make just the right milk for their baby. I have heard many grandmothers sadly tell me that they had to stop breastfeeding because their physician told them their milk wasn’t nutritious enough.
Fortunately there is much more information today. Even poorly nourished women in third world countries make excellent milk. If a baby is not gaining weight on breast milk, it is not because the milk is not good, it is because the baby is not getting enough of it.
By Ann Calandro
BSN, RNC, IBCLC Lactation Consultant