Lipase and Breastmilk

As a mother of two and a Mama Coach, I believe breastmilk is the optimal way to feed your baby in the first year of life and I do whatever I can to help mothers reach their feeding goals for their babies. If you are breastfeeding now or intend on breastfeeding in the future you may have wondered what breastmilk actually tastes like. As a lactation counselor, I have heard mothers compare the taste of their breastmilk to sugar water, melted ice cream, sweetened almond milk, and honey. I, myself, would describe it as sugar water. However, every so often I will get a call or an e-mail from a mama who describes the taste and or smell of her breastmilk as soapy or metallic. If this is something that you are noticing in your breastmilk, you may have an excess of lipase in your breastmilk.

What is lipase?

Lipase is an enzyme present in your milk that helps break down fat so your baby is better able to digest it. When lipase is present in excess the process of breaking down fat can happen at a much faster rate and this can sometimes cause your milk to smell and taste soapy or metallic after a period of time. An excess of lipase would not be noticeable when the baby is feeding at the breast but after the milk has been stored in the fridge or freezer for a period of time. Sometimes this occurs in expressed milk after a couple of hours but usually it takes about 24 hours for the fat to breakdown, altering the taste of the milk.

If I have excess lipase is my milk safe?

Women who have excess lipase in their milk are often concerned their breastmilk is still safe to drink. Milk with excess lipase is perfectly safe but because of the smell and the taste, some babies may refuse it.

If I have  excess lipase what can I do?

Fortunately, lipase can be deactivated in a mother’s milk. This is done through a process in which the milk is scalded. Milk that has been scalded, which means heated near boiling (bubbling around the edges), prior to freezing or refrigeration should not develop a soapy taste or smell. Once milk has been scalded it should be immediately cooled and then frozen. 

Here are some great storage guidelines and tips for storing your breastmilk.

Breastmilk can be stored:
  • At room Temperature (16-25 degrees) optimally for 4 hours and at lower temperatures for 6-8 hours.
  • In Insulated cooler bags with ice packs for 24 hours.
  • In a refrigerator (4 degrees) optimally for 4 days but 5 days is acceptable
  • In your refrigerator freezer (-15 degrees) for 2 weeks
  • In your freezer (separate compartment with door at -18 degrees) for 3-6 months
  • In your deep freezer (-20 degree) for 6-12 months

It is important to note that if your milk tastes sour or rancid this may be caused by a chemical oxidization (usually from an excess of copper or iron in local drinking water or a high intake of fish or flax oils) or bacterial contamination and may not necessarily be related to an excess in lipase.

If this is the case for you, your breastmilk may not be safe to drink and you should contact your healthcare provider for advice. As a Mama Coach and lactation counselor, I am passionate about helping breastfeeding mothers navigate any issues that can arise during their breastfeeding journey. If you are struggling or suspect you may have an excess of lipase in your breastmilk, reach out to a Mama Coach in your area.  We are here to help.


Share this post

Are you looking for support in your parenting journey? Click here to chat with a registered nurse.