If you’re looking for ways how to make breast milk fattier, you’ve come to the right place!
As new moms, we always want to ensure our baby gets the right combination of nutrients to grow and develop properly.
To be honest, I feel like proper nutrition is a concern that will be ongoing throughout your kiddo’s life. It’s one of the reasons why I became a registered dietitian. I believe every child needs access to good nutrition, and their parents deserve to have credible, evidence-based resources to help guide them.
A question I get asked a lot is how to make breast milk fattier. Odds are, if you’ve made it to this page, you have the same question! (By the way, I’m so glad you’re here!)
Know that you aren’t alone, mama! I honestly struggled with my first son and had so many questions myself. Heck! I’m still learning.
But—the good news is— the milk you produce for your baby contains adequate fat, protein, and carbs to meet your baby’s needs and support healthy development.
However, it’s natural to worry! It would almost be more concerning if we didn’t worry about our little ones.
if you believe your child isn’t, there are ways to increase the fat content in your milk. And I’m so excited to share my tips with you today!
In this article, I want to talk to you about the nutritional composition of breast milk, how to know if yours is lacking in fat, and teach you natural ways how to make breast milk fattier.
Hindmilk VS Foremilk
I want to start by telling you a little about the two types of breast milk you’ll often hear. They are called foremilk and hindmilk.
The foremilk is the milk that first comes out of your breast during a feeding session or when you pump.
It is rich in protein and other nutrients. However, it is primarily made up of water. Foremilk usually has a low-fat content.
However, it’s not always considered “low-fat.” It really depends on how long it has been since your last feed. It’s not uncommon for fat levels to vary at the beginning of each feed.
As you continue to nurse your baby (or pump), the milk from deep inside the breast where the fat is stored begins to come out. This is known as hindmilk and has a higher fat concentration.
It’s not like an on and off switch, but the milk gradually transitions from foremilk to hindmilk, which is more fat-filled and contains more calories.
The fat content in breastmilk changes depending on how frequently you nurse and the time of day. For many mothers, the fat content is lowest in the morning and when the overall milk supply is high. The fat concentration often gradually increases as the day goes on.
How Do I Know If My Breastmilk Has Enough Fat?
It can be challenging to tell if your breast milk has enough fat. As long as your baby is gaining weight and having wet and dirty diapers, you shouldn’t have to worry. It’s likely your breast milk is perfectly fine, momma!
One study found that breastfeeding infants should be encouraged to feed on demand regardless of the time or fat content as long as they grow appropriately.
How Much Fat Does Breast Milk Have
Although it varies throughout the day, on average, one ounce of breastmilk has:
- 20 calories
- 1-1.2 grams of fat
- 0.3-0.4 grams of protein
- 2.2-2.6 grams of lactose
Overall, breast milk is made up of around 87% water, 1.0% protein, 3.8% fat, and 7% carbohydrate.
Most of the time, breastmilk has a consistent and adequate supply of fat. However, if you notice that your fat content is lower at the beginning of a pump or feed after a longer period of feeding, this is entirely normal.
Why Fat Is Important When Breastfeeding
Your baby needs fat for neurological development and brain function. It also helps them gain weight appropriately and follow a healthy growth pattern.
If your baby isn’t getting enough fat, they may lose weight or not gain weight as appropriate for age.
However, most studies have shown the overall volume of breastmilk matters most when it comes to growth in exclusively breastfed babies.
If your baby takes in too much milk that is low in fat, it can rush through their stomach faster than the lactose can be digested. This can lead to fermentation in the gut and cause explosive diarrhea, greenish stools, gas, and pain.
Fat helps slow down the time it takes the milk to digest, which reduces the chance of lactose overload.
How to Make Breastmilk Fattier?
So, if you feel as if your breastmilk is still lacking in fat, there are several ways to increase the fat concentration in your milk.
Because we now know that a baby who has inadequate weight gain has a problem with the volume of milk, not the fat content.
According to La Leche, tips should center around the effectiveness of milk removal, feeding management, and steps to increase milk production.
Here are the best ways how to make your breast milk fattier and increase your milk production.
Related: Dairy-Free Breastfeeding Diet
Add Healthy Fats To Your Diet
Contrary to popular belief, eating more fat does not lead to more fatty milk. However, adding healthy fats to your diet can enhance the quality of the fat your little one gets and help nourish your body. Mommas need healthy fats, too!
Because, ultimately, the nutrients you eat will be passed on to your baby in some form.
Healthy fats include:
- Cold-water fish (salmon, tuna)
- Chia seeds
- Whole eggs
- Olive oil
- Vegetable oils
- Nut butter
You can absolutely still enjoy your favorite foods that may not be considered “healthy fats.”
I do recommend that everyone, including breastfeeding mothers, try to limit unhealthy fats from heavily processed foods in their diet.
Instead, focus on eating healthier types of fats like monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. They are both linked with a lower risk of heart disease as well as overall health improvements.
One study found that infants who are fed breast milk high in one type of fat known as omega-3 fat DHA — found in coldwater fish — have better neurodevelopmental outcomes and vision.
Nurse More Frequently
The more often you feed your baby and empty one or both breasts, your baby will get more of the hindmilk. As I mentioned earlier, full breasts are often lower in overall fat.
The more frequently you nurse, your breastmilk will have a higher fat concentration because you are nursing faster than your breast milk replenishes. It increases the odds that your child receives hindmilk.
The longer you go without nursing, the more likely it is that your child will get larger volumes of “low-fat” milk.
This is because, as your boob becomes emptier, fat globules are forced out of the breast as your baby continues to suck.
Try to nurse at least 8 times per day. This will also help prevent engorgement and discomfort.
Empty One Breast First
Let your baby completely empty one breast before switching to the next. This will allow them to reach the end of the milk content, which contains the most fat.
If your baby nurses on one breast but does not empty it and then moves to the next breast, they may be getting too much foremilk and not enough of the fatty hindmilk.
Massage Your Breasts
The fat globules often stick to each other and on the walls of the alveoli. Manually stimulating your breast can help get some of the fat that may be stuck on the walls in your breast.
It can also help increase milk flow through your milk ducts, allowing the fattier milk to get to your baby.
Breast compressions may also help the milk flow better and allow the fat to flow through.
Use Hands-On Pumping
Hands-on pumping is a technique that may help mothers produce more milk during a pumping session. Basically, it combines pumping, hand expression, and breast massage.
Some studies show that it can increase the total volume of milk by 48%. This ultimately can lead to an increase in hindmilk to help your baby grow and thrive.
To perform hands-on pumping, you simply use your hands while pumping instead of entirely relying on the breast pump.
Pump A Little Out First
You can also pump some foremilk out by using a breast pump to increase your child’s chance of getting more hindmilk during their feeding session.
However, I do not suggest making this a habit or pumping too much first because foremilk comprises protein and other essential nutrients that your baby needs.
Have Time On Your Side
As I’ve mentioned, the fat concentration in human milk varies throughout the day. For example, you may notice that your breastmilk is fattier in the evening compared to the next morning if your baby is sleeping through the night.
Many times, fat content is higher in the evening. Jot down and take notes of any trends you notice that may help you provide fattier milk to your baby.
Separate Your Milk
If you are pumping more than your baby needs each day, you can increase the ratio of fat in your milk.
This also may be a good idea if you produce a lot of milk (over 900mL per day) or over 200 mL in one pumping session.
A good rule of thumb is to remove the first one-third of the milk you pump. Don’t worry, you can always freeze or store it for later!
As an example, if you normally pump 90mL on each breast, you can remove and save the first 30mL for later. This will increase the overall fat content in your milk.
Step-by-step instructions on how to separate your breastmilk like a champ!
- Have multiple storage containers on hand and something to label it with
- Pump for around two minutes after you notice a steady flow of milk. Pour this milk into a separate storage container. This is the less-fatty, foremilk. You’ll want to be sure to label it so you won’t get it mixed up. It should be about one-third of the amount you usually pump.
- Continue pumping until your milk flow stops and continue on for an additional two minutes. This is the hindmilk and will have a higher concentration of fat.
The two should visually appear different. The foremilk will be clearer and the hindmilk will be more creamy, similar to regular milk with a slight yellow color.
Eat Enough Food
Trying to lose weight too quickly can negatively impact your breast milk production. You should wait a minimum of two months to make sure your milk supply comes in before trying to lose weight.
In fact, most breastfeeding moms need an additional 500 calories per day.
After your breast milk supply comes in, if you want to lose weight, aim for a healthy loss of no more than 1-2 pounds per week. A large cut in calories or too much weight loss can reduce your milk supply.
Aim to eat a well-balanced diet and include healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and vegetables.
Eat More Protein
In particular, be sure to eat enough protein. Lactating mothers need additional protein. Studies suggest that low-protein diets can result in decreased milk production. Focus on high-quality protein such as lean meat like chicken breast, greek yogurt, eggs, and fish.
Current daily reference intakes for protein suggest that during lactation (up to six months postpartum) mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding need 1.05 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. However, one small study from 2020 found that breastfeeding mothers may need closer to 1.7-1.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Focus on high-quality protein such as lean meat like chicken breast, greek yogurt, eggs, and fish.
You can also try collagen while breastfeeding to increase the protein content or drink a protein supplement shake to help milk production. Of course, always have it cleared by your doctor first.
Express Milk After Feeding
If the breast isn’t completely emptied after your baby’s feeding session, consider pumping the remainder into a storage container. The amount you pump after should have higher concentrations of fat. I recommend pumping until your breast is emptied every three hours or so.
Expressing milk after feeding will also increase your overall milk production. In fact, two separate studies found that milk production increased by 15-40% when a breast pump was used to remove additional milk after feeding.
If you’re like me, my breast milk was like gold. I never had a high breastmilk supply, so this technique I personally found helpful.
Does Sunflower Lecithin Work To Make Milk Fattier?
One of the most popular supplements that are often talked about to increase the fat content in breastmilk is sunflower lecithin.
Unfortunately, there is no strong scientific evidence to support this. There is one older study from 2003 that used sunflower lecithin as an additive in breast milk given through a plastic tube to help the milk hold onto more fat. Keep in mind, this was used as an additive in breast milk that was already pumped given through a feeding pump. It didn’t actually increase the amount of fat the mother produced.
However, supplemental lecithin is occasionally recommended to use for clogged milk ducts. It is believed to prevent clogging by increasing polyunsaturated fatty acids in milk and decreasing its stickiness. According to the National Institutes of Health, no scientific studies exist on the safety and usefulness of high-dose lecithin supplements in breastfeeding mothers. At this time, lecithin is considered to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA.
With that said, if it’s safe and your doctor gives you the OK, it may not hurt to try and see if you notice any difference.
Infants need adequate fat for healthy growth and brain development. Many women, understandably, are concerned about their breastmilk and its amount of fat. Luckily–our bodies are pretty amazing– and it’s likely that your breastmilk is not lacking any of the nutrients your little one needs.
However, if your baby isn’t gaining weight or you notice he or she is losing weight, it’s important to have a conversation with a certified lactation consultant, a registered dietitian who specializes in breastfeeding, or your child’s pediatrician.
To promote a healthy breastmilk supply and fat content, be sure to nourish your body with enough calories, eat a well-balanced diet, and feed or pump often.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I increase the fat content of my breast milk?
To ensure your breast milk has adequate fat, be sure to always empty one breast before moving to the other one. This enables your child to get the “hindmilk”, which is the fatty part of the milk. You can also try pumping more, massaging your breasts, and eating a well-balanced diet.
What foods increase fat in breast milk?
There aren’t any certain foods that can increase fat in your breast milk. Instead, focus on eating a healthy diet with enough calories to support healthy milk production. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein.
Why isn’t my breast milk fatty?
The amount of your breast milk changes frequently throughout the day. Many times, the fat content of milk increases as the day goes on. As the milk empties from your breast, the breast milk fat globules are forced out. You’ll likely notice at the end of your pumping sessions (or nursing session) the milk appears creamier and fattier. This is completely normal.