Well-meaning relatives would probably advise us to offer both breasts in one feeding because your left breast is your baby’s food and your right is your baby’s drink.
There’s actually a variation of this. Some say that one breast is rice and the other is “ulam” (any food that you can pair with rice). It won’t be a complete meal if the baby doesn’t drink from both in one feeding session.
It is actually advisable that you offer one breast, and let the baby empty it in one or two feeding sessions before switching to the other. I will explain a bit more below.
How did this belief start?
I have a theory. In the Philippines, a meal is not complete if you don’t have “panulak” (something to push down) to your “pambara” (something that fills you up). That is what water is for. The ancestors probably associated having two breasts to having “pambara” and “panulak” hence the need to offer both in one feeding session.
Also in the Philippines, like in most Asian countries, rice is a staple in every meal. It’s like you’re not full, no matter how much you eat, if there’s no rice. So, they probably think that if you don’t offer the rice side of the breast, the baby won’t be full. But which side is the rice? Nobody knows! That’s probably why they are suggesting to offer both… just to be sure.
Why offer just one?
Our breastmilk has two parts. Nope, it’s not rice and some ulam. Neither it’s pambara and panulak. Your breastmilk has foremilk and hindmilk. And yes, both sides have them!
Foremilk (from the word Fore meaning first or front) is the first part of the milk, while Hindmilk (from the word Hind meaning last or end) is the last part of the milk. They are both important. Foremilk is high in lactose which is important in your baby’s energy and brain development, while the hindmilk has more fat content, which is essential to baby’s growth. So, it’s always advised that a mom feeds her baby longer on one breast to ensure that the baby gets the complete parts of the milk. Note that they are not two different types of milk and both our breasts contain both.
“Because every baby varies in the amount of time it takes him to receive his fill of the higher-fat milk at the end of the feeding, it is important not to switch breasts while a baby is actively nursing.” – Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC
So, if someone tells you to switch breasts immediately while feeding your baby, tell them you don’t need to because one breast already contains both pambara and panulak. 😀
Bonyata, K. (January 7, 2017). Foremilk and hindmilk – what does this mean?. Kellymom: Parenting, Breastfeeding. URL: http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/basics/foremilk-hindmilk/
La Leche League International (2008). What is the difference between foremilk and hindmilk? Is my baby’s fussiness caused by the lactose in my milk?. La Leche League International. URL: http://www.llli.org/faq/foremilk.html