From what I’ve read over the last week I’ve learned excess lipase is pretty rare and there isn’t a ton of information on it. What I do know is that lipase is a normal part of breast milk. Lipase is the enzyme which helps milk fat to be digested. Lipase is the reason breast milk is the most easily digested food for babies. Excess lipase makes pumped/stored breast milk start the digestion process during storage rather than waiting until it’s in baby’s tummy. Once digested the milk’s taste/smell changes. That change isn’t good – either sour, metallic or soapy. Yuck!
Excess lipase isn’t a problem when baby gets the milk from nursing. The problem only arises when milk is pumped/stored. The taste/smell change doesn’t sour the milk, therefore baby can still drink it and reap the benefits of breast milk. But … the taste/smell makes most babies reject the excess lipase milk. Jemma is one of those babies and I don’t blame her!
To stop the lipase, pumped breast milk must be scalded. The heating process inactivates the lipase and allows the milk to be refrigerated or frozen. Every mom’s milk is unique, made especially for their baby, which means the lipase turns the milk at different times. Some mom’s milk will hold for a few hours, others have a few days before they need to scald.
I determined I have this lovely lipase problem when I thawed some of the milk I had pumped/froze in November 2010. It thawed in the fridge, I warmed it up and offered it to Jem. She turned up her nose something awful so I smelled it and about lost it. I wasn’t about to taste it … I was willing to trust my nose. I Googled “frozen milk with a sour smell” and kept seeing “lipase” pop up. Upon further reading and a phone call to my La Leche League Leader I decided to do an experiment. I pumped and separated my milk into 3 containers. I popped one container in the fridge and marked it “fresh”, I scalded the next container and marked it “scalded” and I scalded and froze the final container. I tested the fresh milk every few hours to see if it still had the fresh milk sweetness. By hour 18 it was starting to turn. So now I know any milk I intend to store longer than 18 hours must be scalded.
What about the 200 ounces I froze before determining I have excess lipase? Good question :) I’m in the process of donating it to a milk bank. Since most milk bank milk is given to extremely sick babies the taste/smell doesn’t matter since it is given through a feeding tube. The nutritional value of excess lipase milk is perfect so donating is definitely the silver lining in this whole ordeal.
Excess Lipase Resources …
- Kellymom – the bible of all breastfeeding wisdom
- La Leche League – 35 pages of forum discussions on lipase
- Simply Rebekah – one mom’s lipase story, scalding step-by-step instructions
If you are a mama (or know a mama) who is planning to pump/store breast milk be sure to test the fridge/freezer shelf life of your milk. I had never heard of excess lipase when I started pumping and didn’t know this could happen. So, learn from my mistake! Don’t get worried though, like I said … excess lipase is rare, but it’s better to know than be surprised 200 pumped ounces later :)
If you know of any other resources or reasons behind excess lipase I would love to hear from you! From what I’ve read it isn’t linked to my diet or anything else I can change, but I’m willing to give anything a try.
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