Why Is My Breast Milk Watery?

Breast milk is the most nutritious thing you can feed your baby, and if it’s watery, you may think it is lacking nutrients. Breast milk is definitely a different composition than formula, and this may cause some concern. If you choose this method of feeding, you will want to make sure your milk is healthy for your baby. This article will help you understand why breast milk looks watery, and if this is normal. You will also learn about foremilk and the higher fat hindmilk. Plus, foods to include or avoid to make your milk healthy for your baby.

 

Why Do I Have Watery Breast Milk?

Once your milk supply comes in it is known as, “mature milk.” Mature human milk is naturally thin and watery, but no less nutritious. No worries, the breast milk has everything your baby needs to be healthy.

When you nurse your baby, you may not even notice it is watery or thin. Most moms notice this when they pump their milk for bottles to send to daycare. As you begin to pump, the milk may look thinner. Then, when the last of your breast empties, you may notice the milk looking a bit creamier/thicker. The beginning of a feeding is known as the “foremilk,” and lower in fat. Later in the feeding your baby gets the “hindmilk,” which is higher in fat.

The Foremilk and Hindmilk

The watery milk you see in the beginning is the foremilk that your baby gets as your milk “let’s down.” This milk is lower in fat, but higher in milk sugars (lactose). This gives your baby adequate fluids, increases their energy, and gives the brain nutrition for development.

When your baby begins to nurse, your body releases oxytocin and the breasts let down this thinner milk. No worries, if there is any of the higher fat “hindmilk,” in the ducts they tend to mix together. However, if your baby is sensitive to lactose too much of the foremilk may cause an issue. They may develop gassiness, and fussiness. In a small amount of babies, lactose issues can cause dehydration, but this condition tends to be rare. They may also “fill-up” too quickly on the watery breast milk and not want to nurse long enough.

After you nurse your baby for about 5 minutes, the hindmilk begins to move forward. This milk appears thicker and creamier. It has a high fat content that is good for baby’s weight gain and overall growth. This is why it is important to try to get your baby to nurse at least 10 minutes on each breast to make sure they get this important milk.

Note: If you are noticing that your breastmilk is too watery most of the time, you may not be feeding often enough. If too much time passes between feedings, your breast milk may become diluted.

Do I Have Healthy Milk? 

It is recommended that infants be exclusively breastfed the first few months for the best health benefits. Children who are breastfed have lower risk of childhood obesity, diabetes, and childhood asthma. It also lowers your risk for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.

As stated above, the normal first milk your breasts produce is watery. You can gauge how your baby is doing on your milk by checking these three things:

  1. Wet Diapers

Newborns usually have one wet diaper for each day of life until milk comes in. Then, after mature milk comes in babies should have 5 to 6 wet diapers a day over 24 hours. It is important to monitor for signs of dehydration like; excessively sleepy, no tears, dry mouth, less than 5 wet diapers, and soft spots sunken. If this occurs, contact your pediatrician as soon as possible.

  1. Bowel Movements

If your baby is getting good breast milk, you will often notice a bowel movement with each feeding. At a minimum, your baby should have at least 3 bowel movements a day. These stools appear watery, yellow and seedy.

  1. Weight Gain

Even if you have watery breast milk, the best way to tell if it is healthy is if your baby is gaining weight. Breastfed babies usually gain weight at a rate of 6 ounces per week. Keep in mind they do lose a little weight the first week, but should start gaining after your milk comes in.

Tips for Breastfeeding

If you are worried, there are some tips you can try to ensure that your baby is getting the best milk possible. Try these things for a better breastfeeding experience:

  • Nurse frequently. It’s not necessarily the color of your milk, but the amount you produce. If you nurse your baby frequently, this will increase your milk supply. Try to feed your baby at least 10 times daily. Learn baby’s cues for hunger like; sucking on hands, rooting, or lip smacking. Try to start the feeding before your baby cries (makes getting them latched easier).
  • Wake your baby to feed. Breastfed babies need to feed every 2 to 4 hours, even during the night. If your baby is sleepy, you will need to wake them to feed. You may need to set an alarm. Never allow your newborn breastfed baby to go longer than 4 hours between feedings.
  • Breastfed infants under 6 months of age should not go through the night without at least one feeding. They also may fall asleep during night feedings. Make sure you keep them stimulated to stay on each breast until it is empty. This will also help prevent you from becoming engorged.
  • Don’t put them on a schedule. Scheduled feedings work for bottle-fed babies, but ca be hard on breastfed babies. Since watery breast milk is not as high in fat, breastfed babies need to eat more frequently than bottle-fed babies.
  • Eat a variety of foods. Your milk is what you eat. Literally! If you want to make sure your breast milk is rich in nutrients eat things like; fresh vegetables high in iron, lean proteins, fresh fruits, and whole grain breads. Grains are also responsible for building a healthy milk supply.