If you have followed proper guidelines of expressing and storing your breastmilk and your milk smells/tastes soapy, metallic, or sour, you may have high lipase.
I did a survey recently and I was so surprised how many moms have high lipase! If you directly latch or feed only freshly pumped breastmilk, you may have high lipase and have no idea because the process of lipase breaking down the fat in your milk too quickly (which occurs with high lipase) only happens over time. Sometimes it’s only with frozen milk, sometimes it’s with milk that’s been in the refrigerator > 24 hours. Every mom is different.
Also, you may have high lipase and your baby doesn’t care and consider yourself LUCKY! Some babies reject the taste of high lipase milk and some moms may not know they have it until it’s too late and they have a freezer stash of milk that their baby won’t drink.
What is lipase?
Lipase is an enzyme that is naturally found in breastmilk.
Lipase helps to break down fats in breastmilk and that helps babies to digest the fat more easily.
Some moms produce high/excess lipase which makes the process of breaking down fats occur faster. this leads to the off-smelling milk.
WHEN DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Depending on the amount of lipase you have, you may find that this happens within hours to days of being in the refrigerator. Or it may occur only when freezing/thawing your milk.
WHY WILL MY BABY DRINK MY MILK STRAIGHT FROM MY BREAST OR FRESHLY PUMPED?
Lipase is not activated immediately. It takes hours to days for the taste/smell to change.
IS HIGH LIPASE BAD FOR MY BABY?
NO! Some babies are completely unbothered by the off taste and it absolutely won’t harm them and if they take it, you’re lucky!
Figuring this out EARLY in your breastfeeding journey will save you a LOT of headaches.
Here is a quick test you can do:
- Pump fresh milk
- Pour that into 2 breastmilk storage bags
- Freeze one of those bags and put the other in the fridge
- Leave for 1-2 days
- Thaw the frozen milk
- Test both samples (smell and taste)
- If the frozen sample smells bad, it is most likely due to high lipase.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU HAVE HIGH LIPASE?
There are a few options if your baby refuses Try and see what works for your baby.
- SCALD your milk right away (details below on how to scald).
- Mix 50/50 with fresh milk. If it doesn’t work the first time, keep trying with different increments of fresh to frozen milk. (And frozen milk from different times).
- Add 1-2 drops/bottle of alcohol-free vanilla extract. (Ask baby’s PCP first).
- Freeze milk immediately. This may not always work but give it a try.
SCALDING AT WORK/WITH A BOTTLE WARMER
- If you’re at work, you likely don’t have access to a stove and since milk has to be scalded right after pumping, you can’t wait until you get home.
- However, you can use a bottle warmer to scald your milk using the same process.
- There are a few bottle warmers that work for this because it can’t have an automatic shutoff (Avent).
- Put milk into a stainless steel cup or bottle and scald in bottle warmer. Use a food grade thermometer and watch for milk to get to 180 C (82 C), then put stainless steel bottle into a cold water bath.
WHAT IF BABY DOESN’T TAKE FROZEN MILK MIXED WITH FRESH MILK AND I HAVE A FROZEN STASH THAT HASN’T BEEN SCALDED?
- Mix with purees or oatmeal. This helps to disguise the soapy taste.
- Add it to smoothies.
- Use it for milk baths. Breastmilk baths can be amazing for dry skin, eczema, cradle cap, rashes, etc.
- Make breastmilk lotion or breastmilk soap.
- Donate to a local milk bank. Most milk banks take high lipase milk.
I outlined above what happens when you have high lipase, why it occurs, what you can do if you have a freezer of high lipase milk, and what you can do moving forward to stop the process of high lipase when storing milk (scalding). The scalding process doesn’t take too long, maybe 5 minutes total.
A question I personally had was about destroying the nutrients when scalding breastmilk to inactivate the lipase. It does lower nutritional value but as long as all of the milk the baby is getting isn’t scalded, it should be okay. So try and feed freshly pumped milk as much as possible so you don’t have to scald all of your milk.
I also outlined how to scald milk if you’re at work. There are only a few bottle warmers that will work for this (that don’t have an automatic shutoff button) and I will link them in my stories and save it to a highlight. One is the Phillips Avent Fast Bottle Warmer.
I hope this was helpful. Figuring out if you have high lipase early on in your breastfeeding journey will save you a huge headache.
I hope this was helpful. Figuring out if you have high lipase early on in your breastfeeding journey will save you a huge headache!