A pumping mom may sometimes find a weird egg-like smell in her breast milk. But don’t worry, it hasn’t gone bad. Breast milk can be affected by your diet, medication, breastmilk storage techniques, or high lipase level. However, the milk is still safe for the baby and nutritious. You just have to make sure that the milk hasn’t been spoiled because then it’s not good for the baby.
You pump your milk regularly, but for few days, you have started noticing that after few days, your breast milk smells soapy and metallic even after storing it in the freezer.
So now you’re wondering what has caused this? Is it dangerous for the baby? How can you correct it? We know no mom would want her previously collected milk to go to waste. So here we are, answering all your questions.
Why does my breast milk smell weird?
Some women find a “soapy or metallic” smell, some say it’s more like “fish or rancid,” and some say their breast milk smell like “rotten eggs.”
Nonetheless, here are several reasons for these changes:
Food and medication
Your breast milk changes its taste and color based on the meals you take. And not even food, but certain medications also tend to affect its taste.
This is why breastfed babies start solid foods and enjoy a greater variety of flavors than formula-fed babies.
Breast milk that contains high lipase and hasn’t been consumed within 24 will start to smell like eggs. But the lipase doesn’t affect the milk right away.
It means if you’re breastfeeding your little one and not pumping, then lipase will not be activated so that the milk will remain free from any weird smell. However, if you pump and give it directly to your little one, he might not even feel any difference.
It takes few hours for the lipase to get activated, mostly 12-24 hours. The longer the milk sits, whether in the refrigerator or freezer, the more pungent the smell and taste will be.
What is Lipase?
Lipase is an enzyme found naturally in breastmilk. These enzymes are very beneficial for the baby; for example…
- It helps break down the natural fats in breastmilk to ensure the fat-soluble nutrients are available to the baby.
- It also breaks down fatty particles in the milk, so it’s easier for your little one to digest.
However, excess of these enzymes can cause a change in your milk’s flavor and smell. When the milk is stored at a cool temperature, the lipase will break down rapidly, resulting in a pungent taste and odor.
Is the milk with a high level of Lipase safe for the baby?
Yes, even if the soapy smell is detected, the milk remains safe for the baby to consume. In addition, there has been no evidence found that milk with high lipase will cause any health issues in the baby.
Just remember, it is the same milk that your tiny one is drinking if he took it directly from the breast. It’s just the freezing that has made it smell different.
How you store your breast milk can also impact its flavor and odor. For example, if you leave your milk at room temperature for some time, it will start separating into layers.
But it isn’t necessarily gone bad. You can swirl the container to see if the content is mixing back together. If yes, it is then completely safe for your baby.
Ways to treat breastmilk with high lipase
Although high lipase milk is safe for babies, many still refuse to drink it. It happens because when babies are born, they recognize the smell and taste of their mother’s breastmilk which is as same as an amniotic fluid that nourishes them in the womb.
Therefore, a slight change in it can make some of them, if not all, uncomfortable. But we have few ways through which you can eliminate pungent taste and odor caused by the lipase.
One way to minimize the flavor is by mixing the stored breastmilk with a freshly pumped one. It will again sweeten the taste.
You can also mix the stored milk with some solid food if your baby is 6 months and above. Still, there are chances that your little one will refuse to take it, and you may end up throwing it out.
Scald the milk, immediately
It is one of the greatest techniques to de-activate lipase. But before that, test if your milk is getting affected by lipase. Collect 1-2 bottles of milk and freeze it for 5 days. Now check if your little one will drink it or not.
If your baby doesn’t drink it, then scalding it right after pumping is your best bet. Here’s what you need to do:
- Pour the milk into a clean pan and place it on a stove.
- Heat the milk at 180 degrees until you see bubbles around the edges. Do not exceed the temperature or boil it.
- Now quickly cool it down by placing the container in a bowl filled with ice.
- You can now store it in the freezer without having to worry about its smell or taste.
Ways to know the milk has been spoiled
Your breastmilk can easily go bad. So if you’re pumping, be vigilant so you don’t feed your baby bad milk.
Look at your breastmilk closely
Breastmilk, after being pumped, starts separating into layers. Milk rich in fat rises at the top, whereas milk rich in water falls to the bottom.
If the milk is still good, the content will immediately mix with just a gentle swirl. But the content remains chunky after re-mixing then it’s likely gone bad.
Smell your breastmilk
For the scent test, freeze a small batch of your milk for 5 days and then thaw it. If your milk has a metallic or egg-like smell then probably it is because of high lipase.
But if your milk smells like fish a few minutes after pumping then it is probably not safe for your baby’s consumption.
Taste your breastmilk
We know for many parents it isn’t easy to taste the breastmilk, but it will help you know whether it is safe for your little one or not. A fish or onion-like taste, right after pumping, may tell you that you need to throw out the breastmilk immediately.
Guidelines to follow to stop breastmilk from spoiling
To ensure your precious gold fluid doesn’t turn bad you must consider these guidelines.
Freshly expressed breastmilk
- Last up to 4-6 hours at room temperature (60-77°F)
- Last up to 3 days in the refrigerator (39°F or cooler)
- Last up to 6 months in Freezer (0° F or cooler)
- Last up to 2 hours at room temperature (60-77°F)
- Last up to 24 hours in the refrigerator (39°F or cooler)
- Cannot refreeze
When storing the milk in the refrigerator, place it at the back where the temperature is the coolest.
For storage, choose the container wisely. Use a hard plastic bottle or glass baby bottle and place it milk storage bag specifically made for freezing.
How do I know if my breastmilk has high lipase?
Breastmilk has a sweet taste and no odor. So to know if your milk has high lipase, you can conduct a test. Pump out your milk and store it in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Taste and smell it after every few hours, and if it starts to smell like rotten eggs or taste a bit sour, then most likely it’s due to high lipase.
How do I get my baby to take high lipase milk?
Some babies aren’t affected by high lipase but if your baby is sensitive to the smell then you can scald it immediately.
– Place the milk in a clean pan on a stove.
– Heat the milk until a bubble starts to appear.
– Quickly cool the milk and now can store it without any hesitation.
How far away can baby smell mom?
Babies have a superhuman sense of smell this is why the U.S. Department of Women’s Health says “babies turn directly to their mother when they are hungry because they are able to smell their unique scent.” This makes them able to smell their mother from as far away as 1-2 feet.
“My milk smells like eggs” is a common problem among breastfeeding moms. But let us make it clear, milk in high lipase activity doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you or your milk.
It’s a minor hiccup that can be easily solved by masking the flavor or scalding the milk. Just know that your breastmilk is filled with numerous nutrients which will not be affected by any foul smell.