Upon discovering that my properly-stored breast milk consistently tasted sour, I talked with other moms and did research to try to solve the mystery of what was making it taste so bad. I discovered that the likely cause was an excess of lipase.
Lipase is an enzyme contained in breast milk that breaks fats down into individual fatty acids. Lipase is part of why breast milk is so easily digestible for babies. It’s good that we have lipase in our breast milk. However, too much lipase results in fat being broken down too quickly. (The fat in milk is apparently what makes it taste good.) The end result? Sour-tasting milk.
My first suspicion was that my milk, for whatever reason, had too much lipase – more than the average breastfeeding mother. I wondered what was making my milk that way. Was it something I was eating or drinking? Was it the vitamins I was taking?
The solution offered for too much lipase in the actual breast milk is to briefly scald the milk before storing. To do this, a mother needs to heat freshly-pumped breast milk on the stove until small bubbles form around the outside of the pan. When breast milk is scalded on the stove (not scalded in the microwave, not boiled in the microwave or stove), it stills retain its amazing properties, but the lipase will be inactivated.
I’m a little wary of this, because I figure God put lipase in breast milk for a reason. I don’t like the idea of inactivating any part of breast milk. If you’re able, feeding your baby directly from the breast is probably healthiest. However, if you need to pump, scalding is definitely a better option than switching to formula, and is still good for your baby.
After doing a little more research, I found another explanation for excess lipase. Many mothers blame the excess lipase found in their breast milk on metals found in their tap water. They feel that, when the breast pump and/or bottles are washed in tap water, the metals in the water stick to the pump and containers and get into the breast milk when it is stored.
The solution offered for excess lipase caused by water is to simply wash the breast pump, storage containers, and bottles in distilled water.
I like this idea much better, because nothing has to be done to alter the actual milk.
I haven’t tried either method, because I’m at home all day with my baby, and there’s no immediate need for me to do so. If I decide to test these methods, I’ll keep you posted on the results. In the meantime, I’m hoping this blog will help other mothers who have suffered frustration because of excess lipase.