The Language of Breastfeeding Glossary

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As you learn more about breastfeeding, you may come across some unfamiliar terms. Here is a handy list of definitions for terms often found in breastfeeding support materials.

This  glossary of common breastfeeding terms is a great resource for when you come across unfamiliar terms while learning about feeding your baby.

Areola — The darker skinned area around the nipple.

Colostrum — In the first few days after delivery, before “mature” milk comes in, your body produces this liquid that is loaded with calories and infection-fighting proteins. Although the breast secretes only a small amount of this thick, yellowish fluid, it is very important for your newborn.

Engorgement — A few days after giving birth (following the colostrum period), your body produces the “mature” milk. Because the breasts become very full of milk (engorged) it can be uncomfortable for the mother. However, this goes away once the body better regulates milk production. It can also happen if the child suddenly nurses less than usual (for various reasons), and the breasts are producing more milk than the lessened demand.

Hindmilk — This is the higher-in-fat breastmilk that is available at the end of the feeding. The cells within breasts (alveoli) produce milk all the time. Between feedings, breastmilk stays in the milk ducts within the breasts, and the fat globules in milk tend to stick to the walls of the alveoli and to each other.

When  milk is being continually produced, it moves towards the nipple, leaving more of the fat near the back of the breast. At the next feeding, the baby will receive the lower-fat foremilk first and will get the milk with extra fat (hindmilk) toward the end of the feeding. While mom sometimes thinks that the baby is not getting enough hindmilk, there’s no reason to worry. Moms don't have to be concerned about this distinction - simply feed your baby on demand and trust the baby is getting the nutrients he needs.

IBCLC — This is an excellent resource for breastfeeding moms. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants provide assistance for all breastfeeding issues, including the most challenging ones. The IBCLC is an international group that ensures a consistent standard throughout the world. To become a member of the IBCLC, a person must pass an exam in addition to many hours of clinical experience working with breastfeeding moms and babies.

Lanolin — This cream is a savior to many breastfeeding mothers who experience sore, cracked nipples. It can soothe and protect, but make sure that you only use a pure form of lanolin to prevent allergies to the toxins that come in impure forms. Lansinoh® HPA® Lanolin is the safest, purest lanolin available.

Latching On — Latching on is when the baby takes the nipple and areola properly into his mouth to begin nursing. Proper positioning is critical (see below) because your nipple needs to touch the roof of your baby’s mouth to stimulate him to latch on, suck and swallow.

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The Language of Breastfeeding Glossary