When breast milk smells soapy or rancid: High lipase

Have you heard of high lipase in breast milk? Lipase is an enzyme that helps break down fat in breast milk. The breakdown of the fat in breastmilk by lipase is normal but not noticeable when the baby is feeding directly at the breast. When lipase occurs in excess, this process happens much more rapidly and can make the milk taste off or soapy after a period of time. Milk with excess lipase is safe to drink, but some babies dislike the taste and refuse it.

 

How do you know if you have high lipase?

  • Test prior to freezing – Before freezing large amounts of breast milk, you can test it for odor and taste changes due to lipase. Collect and freeze 1-2 bags or small containers of breast milk for at least 5 days and then evaluate the odor to see if your baby will drink it.

What can you do if you have high lipase?

  • Reduce strong oxidizing agents like iron and copper from your drinking water
    Add antioxidants to your diet
  • Freeze milk as soon as you pump it whenever possible
  • Reduce intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Consider going on a Whole 30 diet
  • Scald you’re milk prior to freezing 
  • To scald fresh milk: Heat it in a pot until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan (approximately 180° F) but don’t boil it. Remove the milk from the stove and allow it to cool before freezing.

Scalding fresh milk will stop the enzymes from breaking down the fat, preventing that soapy smell and taste. Scalding milk does reduce some of the beneficial components in breast milk, however, so give your infant fresh breast milk whenever possible.

Have a ton of freezer milk with high lipase? Some babies don’t mind the flavor and will drink it anyway. If you’re won’t, Before pitching it, consider trying the following:

  • Mix frozen milk with fresh milk to make it more appetizing to baby
  • Some moms find adding a few drops of alcohol free vanilla extract can mask the lipase flavor. 
  • Use it for a milk bath which can help with dry skin