{Mama Mondays}: High Lipase in Breast Milk

Something else I’ve dealt with during breastfeeding that isn’t too common is high lipase in my milk.  Some women naturally make higher levels of the enzyme lipase in their breast milk, this enzyme is one that helps in breaking down the fat molecules in the milk.  While “normal” breast milk can be refrigerated for three days or frozen for three months, breast milk with high lipase can’t do either without developing a rancid taste and smell.  It is okay for the baby to drink, it isn’t actually spoiled milk, but it tastes so bad generally the baby won’t want it.

During my maternity leave we would bottle feed Esteban once every couple of days so he was used to a bottle and would be able to take one once I was at work.  Generally I would pump and then give the milk to Epi to feed Esteban.  Once though, I was at the gym and Epi un-thawed some of the frozen milk I’d been stocking up to give Esteban.  Esteban would not have it and while we knew he was hungry he just screamed and cried when we’d offer it to him.  This kept happening once I went to work too but only with milk that had been frozen first.

Within a week of Esteban refusing to eat over and over I remembered the little blips on high lipase in each of the breastfeeding books I read and thought maybe that was the problem.  I started doing some research on high lipase, ways to tell if you have it, and what to do about it.  I tasted the milk once it was thawed out (that was a kind of weird to do).  Sure enough, all of the milk tasted spoiled once frozen or if it sat in the fridge more than a day or so.

I was so frustrated! I had built up a large reserve of milk in the freezer for when I was at work and as a “just in case.”  ALL of it was bad and I had to pour it down the drain. (I did learn later you can donate the milk to a milk bank and it’s mixed in with enough other milk and whatever else they do to the milk takes care of the taste) Since Esteban had so many food allergies we couldn’t substitute formula very easily in the times he would get hungry and I wasn’t around.  I still needed to find a solution for storing the milk and deactivating the lipase.

The way to deactivate lipase is to raise the solution it’s in to a high temperature.  High heat deactivates the enzyme so it won’t break down the fat molecules.  If I scalded the milk I could then freeze it.  Scalding reaches that temperature without getting so hot all of the good things in the milk are killed.  Fresh milk is better, but scalded milk is still okay nutritionally for baby.

Here is the method I use for scalding:

  1. In a double boiler heat the milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (I use a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature).
  2. While milk is heating, prepare an ice bath close by to transfer the milk to. Also have a container that can handle high temperature shifts well to hold the milk.
  3. Once the milk reaches 140 degrees set timer for 1 minute. Keep temperature around 140 degrees for that minute.
  4. At 1 minute remove the milk IMMEDIATELY from the heat, pour into the container in an ice bath to cool the milk quickly.
  5. When the milk is cool enough to not melt the storage bag/container, transfer it into the bag and place in freezer.

Scalding is a lot of work so my main method is to pump at work what Esteban needs for the next day while I’m gone.  Friday’s milk is the only milk I scald so that there was some for him on Monday.   This way I’m only doing that work once a week and most of the milk he drinks has its full nutritional value.

Here are some links to sites I found helpful in troubleshooting high lipase:





There you are! My thoughts and experience with high lipase.  Hope this is helpful to those dealing with it.  It’s frustrating at times but still totally doable!

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