High Lipase in Breastmilk & How to Fix It?

How to Fix High Lipase in Breastmilk

Most mothers know that breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both the mother and the baby. Apart from health benefits, it helps in strengthening the bond between the mother and child. Young mothers know feeding their baby with breast milk is the healthiest diet for their child. However, breastfeeding can have a few challenges for young mothers. Sometimes, they struggle with the right latch or adjusting to some issues like mastitis. One other common issue faced by young mothers is when their kid refuses to drink breast milk due to it smelling or tasting a bit “off”. This off taste or smell is due to high lipase in the breast milk. Read on to know more about lipase and how to fix it.

What is Lipase?

Lipase, an important enzyme found in everyone is helpful for young babies to break down breast milk. This enzyme helps babies to digest breast milk and absorb the essential nutrients found in breast milk. Lipase is produced in people of all ages in their pancreases. This enzyme eaten working in the intestine helps to break down fats in food. In newborn babies, it is found in their digestive tracts.

Breast milk with a high amount of lipase has a different and “off” smell and flavour. Expressed high lipase milk, stored in cool temperatures, sometimes causes fats present in the breast milk to break down quickly, changing the smell and flavour of the milk. Though, sometimes the sour smell of the breast milk could be due to low lipase as well. To determine whether the sour smell and flavour are due to high lipase in milk, store the breast milk in the refrigerator immediately after pumping.  Let it be there for a day or two, and then you can check the odour. If the breast milk smelled okay when pumped but is now smelling soupy or off, then it is highly possible your breast milk has high levels of lipase.  Don’t worry though, the milk with excess lipase is absolutely safe to drink or be consumed by your baby. It just tastes and smells different.

breastmilk in bottle

Causes of High Lipase in Breastmilk

Lipase is a natural enzyme found in breast milk. It works as an emulsifier for milk fat and breaks the fat found in human milk to make the fat-soluble nutrients readily available for the young baby. It also makes the milk easily digestible for the baby. The excess lipase in breast milk cause is not known apart from that some women produce more lipases than other women. It is a natural production caused by no other factor. High lipase content in milk hastens the breaking down the process of fats present in the human milk and alters the taste and smell of breast milk. Such milk is completely safe for your baby to consume.

What Does Breastmilk With High Lipase Taste Like?

Breast milk with high lipase content has a different taste than breast milk with normal lipase content.  It develops a slightly off or rancid or soapy flavour and smell. Some babies don’t notice the altered smell or taste and drink it without any fuss. However, some babes notice this and are fussy about drinking expressed milk with altered taste.

Effect of High Lipase in Breastmilk

Most new mothers worry that there might be some effects of high lipase in their breast milk for their baby’s health. They wonder whether it is safe for them to feed their baby high lipase milk. Lipase is a naturally found enzyme which is necessary for breaking down the fats present in the breast milk for easy digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. In some cases,  milk has more than normal lipase content, which alters the taste and smell of the expressed milk. As per several studies, there is no evidence found that breast milk with high lipase is bad for the babies.

There is no issue of taste or smell in breast milk with high lipase content when you nurse your baby directly from your breast. High lipase changes the smell and flavour of the expressed breast milk after a few hours or days of storage in the refrigerator. As a working mother, you may have to store the expressed breast milk for future feeding.  Your baby will have no issues in digesting the expressed milk, though he might not like the altered smell or flavour of the stored breast milk. The pumping of breast milk and storing process, makes the same breast milk seem different. So if your baby is not drinking the expressed breast milk, then you’ll have to treat the high lipase to make your baby consume the breast milk.

high lipase in breastmilk

How to Treat High Lipase in Breastmilk

The excess of lipase content may alter the smell and taste of the expressed breast milk still high lipase breast milk diet is good for the baby.  Though the taste and smell are different for stored express breast milk, it is completely safe for the baby to drink. However as some babies make a fuss drinking the express breast milk with a different taste, the mother needs to eliminate the smell and flavour issue of express breast milk caused by high lipase content. Few ways to treat high lipase in breast milk are:

1. Don’t Keep the Expressed Breast Milk for Long

Lipase enzyme breaks down the fat present in breast milk to change its taste and smell. This activity takes many hours or days. So to eliminate the expressed breast milk changing taste and smell, feed the expressed breast milk within a few hours or the same day of pumping or storage.

2. Note the Timings

To eliminate the expressed breast milk tasting or smelling different, track the hours or days it takes to change its smell and flavour. Mostly the flavour change happens as quickly as 23-24 hours or it can take a few days’ time. You can employ the trial and error method to know the flavour changes. For this, you need to see when your baby starts refusing the stored breast milk, whether its two days or four days and accordingly adjust the duration for stored breast milk. This method will work well when you use the stored breast milk quickly or within days of storage. However, if you keep milk for a longer duration, then you need to find out exactly how many days it takes for the expressed breast milk to change flavour and smell. For this, you need to keep checking the stored milk for changes and noting them down, till you arrive at the accurate number of days.

3. Adjust the Pressure and Speed of the Breast Pump

Sometimes, adjusting the pressure and speed of the breast pump to a lower level also helps in improving the smell and taste of the expressed breast milk.  So, follow the breast pump operating guidelines properly and adjust the pressure if needed.

4. Mix the Expressed Breast Milk With Fresh Milk or Other Foods

You don’t want to waste the expressed breast milk stored in the refrigerator which tastes or smells soapy. You can mix lipase breastmilk with freshly pumped breast milk to make the taste sweeter or better. Mixing with freshly pumped milk also masks the soapy smell.  Another way is to use that stored breast milk with solid foods. However, this is possible if your baby is old enough to eat solid food. The flavour of high lipase milk gets masked by the flavour of solid food and tricks your baby into consuming it. You can use it with oatmeal, baby cereals or smoothies.  Another effective way to mask the smell and flavour is adding vanilla to breast milk with high lipase. This is apt for young babies who are still not on a solid diet.

5. Scalding the Breast Milk

One of the most effective ways to eliminate the soapy smell and flavour from expressed breast milk high in lipase is scalding. The scalding breastmilk lipase is the best method to store your breast milk for a longer duration.  Scalding is heating the milk to a point till bubbles are formed but the milk doesn’t start boiling. Boiling the milk destroys its nutrients. Also scalding should be done to freshly expressed milk, quickly cool the milk to room temperature and then it should be stored. You can scald the breast milk in a pan or in a bottle warmer, as per your convenience.

Foul-smelling or tasting breast milk may seem like a big issue for young mothers, especially for working mothers. Though the truth is, it can be easily managed with help of few easy methods. Just remember, your little one should get the essential nutrition which is there in your breast milk. For that, make a few changes in your pumping and storing methods.  An adjustment in a breast pump, scalding the expressed milk or masking the flavour is required to make a new mother’s life easy.

Also Read:

How to Tell if Breast Milk Is Bad for Your Baby?
How Antibodies in Breast Milk Help a Baby?
Colours of Breast Milk 

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Gauri Ratnam completed her Masters in English Literature from the University of Pune. She began her journey as a German translator soon after completing her graduation, but later moved on to pursue her passion for writing. Having written for both digital and print media in a varied range of industries, she has the ability to write relatable and well-researched content, benefical for anyone seeking advice or direction.