Bad breast milk: How to Know when Expressed Breast Milk is Spoiled: 9 Steps

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Frozen Breast Milk Tastes Bad! Now What? — Milkology®

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What does normal breast milk taste like?

Freshly expressed milk tastes a bit like cow’s milk, but more mild and slightly sweeter.

Many people say it tastes like sweetened almond milk.  The exact taste can change slightly depending on what foods you ate recently.

4 Reasons Frozen Breast Milk Tastes Bad

1. Spoiled Milk

Spoiled milk happens when breast milk isn’t stored properly.

You can tell if breast milk is spoiled by the appearance and the smell.  It’ll have a strong “off” smell and might have chunks in it, similar to when cow’s milk is spoiled.

When freezing breast milk the BEST way to preserve essential nutrients is to use glass containers. Not all glass containers can freeze without cracking, but
these can! (and they’re perfect for breast milk)

2. Something in your diet

Chemical oxidation of breast milk might be the culprit if your breast milk has a metallic taste to it.  This is thought to occur from something in a mother’s diet such as eating too many polyunsaturated fats or drinking water with too much iron and copper in it.

3. Mastitis/Blocked Ducts

Does your breast milk taste salty?  If you’ve had mastitis, clogged ducts, or were engorged around the time of expression it can make your breast milk taste slightly salty. This is due to your breasts retaining more sodium and water when they’re swollen.

4. High Lipase

If your thawed, frozen breast milk has a sour, metallic, fishy, or soapy taste, it’s possible that the enzyme lipase is to blame.

All breast milk naturally has lipase in it because it helps break down the milk fats into smaller particles for baby to digest.

Some women have higher levels of lipase in their breast milk than others. When levels are too high, the enzyme continues to break down fat in the breast milk the longer it sits out, even after it’s frozen.  This leads to the breast milk eventually tasting bad.

If your baby doesn’t mind drinking the milk with high lipase, they can continue to do so because it won’t harm them.

But if they refuse to drink the milk because of the taste, you can scald the milk to deactivate future lipase activity.

Once the milk becomes sour, there’s no way to reverse the smell/taste. Scalding breast milk only works to deactivate lipase BEFORE it starts to break down the milk.

To scald milk:

Gently heat breast milk on low heat in a pan on the stove. (Do NOT boil.) Once the milk starts to bubble around the edges, take off the heat and cool quickly by placing the pan in a large bowl filled with ice water. 

NOTE: Scalding milk removes some immune-boosting components of breast milk so if your baby willingly drinks high-lipase milk, it’s best not to scald the milk.

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Related Article — 12 Things You Can Do With Leftover Breast Milk

What to Know About How Breast Milk Tastes

Written by Alyssa Anderson

In this Article

  • What Does Breast Milk Taste Like? 
  • What Can Make Your Breast Milk Taste Change?
  • How to Test Your Breast Milk’s Flavor
  • What Are the Benefits of Breast Milk? 
  • How Does Breast Milk Compare to Cow’s Milk?

It’s natural to wonder about your newborn’s taste experiences. Since the first flavors that most children experience come from breast milk, many parents find themselves wondering, “What does breast milk taste like?” 

The answer is that the exact flavor of breast milk varies from person to person and from day to day. It’s affected by factors like what you eat and how fresh it is. In general, many people say that it tastes like skim cow’s milk.

Many adults know so little about the taste that they couldn’t even guess if breast milk is salty or sweet. Breast milk should be slightly sweet.

But — under the right conditions — other flavor profiles can develop. Most of these flavors aren’t bad or unhealthy for your newborn. For example, if strong spices or lots of garlic are a regular part of your diet, then your milk will take on mildly spicy or garlicky smells and flavors, and that’s fine. 

If your child is ever fussy about a particular taste in your breast milk — particularly some that’s been in the fridge for a while — then you can try mixing it with a different batch of milk. Usually, a fifty-fifty blend will reduce any unwanted flavors enough for your child’s tastes.

The one thing you need to keep an eye out for is spoiled milk. Human breast milk can spoil just like any other kind of milk. This leads to a sharp, sour smell and flavor. There’s no way to save spoiled milk. You should be able to tell it’s spoiled by tasting a sip of it yourself. 

Milk is fresh when you produce it. But many women choose to pump for a variety of reasons. Breast milk is only safe for up to eight days in your fridge and lasts a bit longer in the freezer. Discard it as soon as you realize that too much time has passed.

A variety of factors can change the flavor of your breast milk. These include: 

  • Your diet. The foods that you eat can greatly influence the taste of your breast milk. This is particularly true for foods with strong flavors — like garlic. 
  • Timing. The precise composition — and therefore the taste — of your breast milk can vary even from the start of one feeding session to the end. For example, your milk tends to get fattier as the feeding session continues. The nutrient composition of your milk also changes as your baby grows up. The milk that you produce the first few days after birth is packed full of nutrients and tends to be thicker and yellower than normal milk. 
  • Enzyme activity. All types of milk contain an enzyme called lactase. Lactase helps your body break down the fats in milk and even provides immune benefits. But some people have overactive enzymes that move faster than normal. This can create a fishy or soapy odor in breast milk that you pump and save for later. It can even affect the taste. Sometimes your baby won’t have a problem with the milk, but other times they may refuse to drink. The milk is still safe. You can scald your milk to restore good flavor by gently heating it for a brief period. 
  • Certain chemical reactions. Sometimes your milk can smell and taste sour. This can happen very quickly if you have certain additives in your diet — like polyunsaturated and rancid fats or water rich in copper and iron ions. If you notice that your milk is spoiling very quickly, then you’ll likely need to change some aspects of your diet. Talk to your doctor as soon as you notice the problem.

You may be concerned about your breast milk developing unusual flavors or just curious to see how the taste changes over time. In the case of an unusual flavor, you should double-check that all milk-pumping and storage devices are clean and free of bacteria. Certain bacterial contaminations can cause serious health problems for your child. 

If everything is clean, then you should taste your milk when it first comes out and store it normally in the fridge. The less desirable flavors from lactase overactivity can develop over hours or days. This means that you should taste it every few hours for the first day and then once a day afterward. Take note of when you start to notice soapy or fishy flavors. 

If the flavors set in quickly, then you may need to figure out how to scald your milk in diverse places when pumping away from home.

There are many myths and rumors surrounding the benefits of breastfeeding your child compared to other early feeding solutions. 

The flavor of breast milk is one of its benefits. Most formulas are only one flavor. That’s the only flavor that your child will experience from one meal to the next. Breast milk provides a more varied experience. 

The other flavor advantage is that breast milk specifically introduces your child to the flavors that they’ll experience in your home as they grow. It adjusts your child to the particular herbs and spices that are most present in your diet. Most of the time, this directly reflects the flavors that they’ll grow up with. Breast milk gets them used to these ingredients right from the start.   

Other, non-flavor-related benefits of breast milk include:

  • Lower risk of diarrhea, stomach problems, and ear infections for your child
  • A fantastic bonding experience — since newborns can only see 15 inches in front of them, this gives them a chance to study your face and meet your eyes
  • Exposure to a lot of immune-system components, like antibodies, that are relevant to their environment

Even though they’re both mammalian-made milk, there are some important differences when comparing breast milk vs cow milk.  

The nutrients in cow’s milk vary depending on whether or not it’s a whole or low-fat variety and whether or not it has added nutrients, like vitamin D. 

Both have fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. They’re also both packed with micronutrients like calcium, potassium, and a variety of minerals. 

But the nutrient balance in breast milk is specifically designed for a human baby, while the ratios in cow milk are right for a baby cow. Cow’s milk, for example, should never contain human antibodies or human-specific immune components.  

As you transition away from breast milk to cow’s milk, keep in mind that lots of young children are allergic to traditional dairy products. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think that your child is having an allergic reaction to any new food. 

Symptoms of a dairy allergy include: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing and tightness in the throat
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Watery eyes that may also itch
  • Hives

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Myths about breastfeeding

The article was prepared by pediatrician Melnikova Uliana Vladimirovna

Many young mothers often face numerous rules for feeding a newborn child, which are passed down from generation to generation. They are so common that in many books for expectant mothers and in magazines for parents, it is actions based on prejudice that are described as correct and necessary. Not all statements should be believed and not all advice should be followed. To clarify what is true and what is fiction, let’s discuss the main myths regarding breastfeeding.

There are «dairy» and «non-dairy» women

As a rule, the thought that a woman is «non-dairy» visits her when she encounters difficulties in breastfeeding of various nature. And immediately I recall the experience of feeding the children of mothers, aunts, grandmothers, which confirm her thoughts about «non-dairy». In fact, the real problem of «non-dairy» — deficiency of breast milk (hypogalactia) — is observed only in 3-5% of women, but if you are a healthy woman who carried and gave birth to her child — you definitely cannot be «non-dairy»! It is important to adjust the attachment of the baby to the breast in time and properly organize breastfeeding, and then the result will not be long in coming.

After each feeding, you must express the remaining milk, otherwise the milk will be wasted

It is not necessary to express breast milk after each feeding. There are certain indications for this procedure. Of course, if you feed your baby 6 times a day and do not express, indeed, milk can “disappear” very quickly. When feeding a child on demand, the mother always has as much milk as the child needs and there is no need to express after each application. Expressing breast milk is recommended only in cases where the baby is not sucking out the entire volume of milk for various reasons, or when pumping completely replaces the attachment of the baby to the breast. Therefore, in order to provide the child with a sufficient amount of milk, it is necessary to organize frequent breastfeeding and then pumping will be completely excluded.

My milk is “bad”

One can often hear complaints from breastfeeding mothers that their milk is “empty”, not rich enough, and blue in color. In fact, the composition of milk is ideal for exactly the needs that her child is currently experiencing. Therefore, a priori, a mother cannot have bad milk for her child — which means that this is exactly what it should be for him at the moment. The composition of milk varies from feeding to feeding, from the time of day and season, the age of the child and many circumstances.

There is no real basis for the statement of some experts and the older generation that if the expressed milk has a bluish tint, then it is low-fat and it is better to feed the baby with formula! Immediately I would like to remind nursing mothers about the anterior (early) and hind (late) milk produced during each feeding. Foremilk is rich in sugar, more watery, and is produced between and at the beginning of feedings. It provides the child with liquid and fast carbohydrates, allowing to satisfy hunger immediately. As suckling progresses to hindmilk, rich in fats and thicker, which saturates for a long time and gives the baby the necessary enzymes to assimilate nutrition. Roughly speaking, the child drinks and snacks with the front portions of milk, and eats tightly with the back portions! The front portion of milk is usually expressed — it will be bluish and not so fat. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad!

If there is a problem with satiety of the baby, then the reason is not the quality of milk, but the wrong organization of breastfeeding, namely, insufficient duration of feedings, improper attachment of the baby or health problems. Therefore, in the first six months, you need to exclusively breastfeed your child, despite the color and other qualities of milk, it is ideal for a child just like that! Breast milk is the best food for your baby!

The child is sleeping, no need to wake up

As a rule, a newborn baby wakes up for feeding every 2-3 hours during the first weeks after birth. But there are situations when a longer sleep leads parents to choose whether to wake him up or not. Especially many questions arise about night feedings. It often happens that the baby sleeps for a long time and does not wake up even when the mother puts it to the breast. In this case, it is necessary to consult with a pediatrician and discuss with him questions about the correct organization of breastfeeding and assess whether the child receives enough breast milk. If the doctor has determined that the child receives insufficient breast milk and gains weight poorly, but at the same time sleeps soundly and for a long time, saving his energy, then it is imperative to wake the child!

Of course, these are not all the myths that nursing mothers encounter about breastfeeding. Therefore, try to get information from reliable sources that are based on the research and recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) in their content.


How to help breastfeeding: questions and answers

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Milk rivers and jelly banks are an image of a magical and abundant country from folk tales. Probably, there are fewer allergy sufferers in this marvelous region, because the role of breastfeeding (HF) in the primary prevention of atopic (allergic) diseases is undoubted. How to make milk rivers drink and feed the baby, and bring only joy to mom and dad? We will answer the most frequent disturbing questions of novice parents.

Is the baby getting enough milk?

There are only 2 reliable signs that there are NO: weight gain less than 500g / month (for the first half of life) and a small amount of urine (less than 6-8 urination per day). For a newborn baby, the criterion that nutrition has improved is the restoration of weight in the second week of life after a natural (in the language of doctors — physiological) loss of body weight at birth.

How to help a mother who thinks she doesn’t have enough milk

To understand why the mother lacks confidence, it is necessary to listen to her and give truthful information about how lactation (milk production) and the feeding process occurs, what is the normal behavior of the child. During the conversation, it is necessary to accept the mother’s opinions and feelings about breast milk and feeding, note all the good points in the feeding technique and in the development of her child, check the correct attachment to the breast (correct possible shortcomings by providing practical assistance to the mother), evaluate the effectiveness of suckling (tell the mother !) and give tips to help you cope with fatigue. It is often helpful and even necessary to talk to family members.

Why might a baby not get enough breast milk?

The most common causes are related to breastfeeding and the condition of the mother — these can be:

  • delayed start of feeding (optimally — the first application of at least half an hour in the first 20 minutes after birth, right in the delivery room),
  • infrequent feedings or short feedings (feeding «by the clock», «by the rules»), especially — no feedings at night or night breaks for more than 5 hours,
  • poor attachment to the breast (see below) and ineffective suckling,
  • giving a child before 4-6 months of other foods, other drinks, using bottles with a pacifier (if necessary, it is better to feed from a cup), pacifiers,
  • maternal self-doubt/anxiety/stress,
  • rejection of the baby, dislike of breastfeeding, fatigue, pain during feeding (eg, fissures, thrush),
  • taking combined contraceptives (estrogens in their composition suppress lactation; nursing mothers need drugs selected by a doctor), taking diuretics = diuretics (including tea and coffee), smoking, the onset of a new pregnancy in the mother.

Rare causes are those associated with the condition of the child: illness, developmental anomalies, in which there are difficulties with effective sucking and fatigue, weakness.

There are factors that definitely do not affect the amount of milk: the age of the mother, premature birth, operative birth (caesarean section), menstruation, sexual life, return to work (if the child continues to suckle frequently or the mother expresses milk regularly), the age of the child , large families or the birth of twins / triplets, a simple (regular) diet.

How can I help increase lactation?

You have to let nature work on it. The mechanisms of lactation are very reliable, unless the mother and her immediate environment interfere with their anxiety.

Firstly, the mother needs to eat, drink and rest enough, and let the child be next to her, so that it is the mother who does everything for him now.

Secondly, when feeding, the mother needs to learn to relax, using these wonderful minutes to focus on the baby, eye-to-eye and skin-to-skin contact, gaining good thoughts and feelings about the baby. It will be useful for mom to drink something warm, soothing (but not coffee) before applying, sit comfortably in a warm corner, warm the chest (for example, a warm shower, a warm compress on the chest), and not be distracted by the phone and TV. Therefore, at first, it is useful to slightly distance the family and take a bunch of useful things in the kitchen, around the house and beyond; this will give mom and baby time and peace — what you need for mom’s lactation hormones to work.

The most important advice is to allow the baby to breastfeed as often as possible: as soon as he shows interest (this is called «baby-initiated feeding»), in the first 1-2 months — approximately every 2 hours during the day and every 4-5 hours at night. To increase or maintain lactation, even pumping (imitation of another attachment to the breast) can be useful: the mother’s body will respond to an increase in “demand” with an increase in “supply”. It is IMPORTANT not to limit either the frequency or duration of breastfeeding!

The second most important tip is to make sure that the baby is attached to the breast correctly and suckles effectively (see below).

How do you know if a baby is properly attached to the breast and suckles effectively?

Just watching the feeding process. Breastfeeding is a skill that mom and baby learn together, both sides of the process learning. And we — doctors and sympathetic family members — can help our «students». Here is the cheat sheet:

Signs that everything is RIGHT Signs that there are DIFFICULTIES with attachment
  • when sucking, the baby’s mouth is wide open,
  • his lower lip is turned out,
  • the child’s tongue «hugs» the mother’s breast from below, it is visible,
  • baby’s cheeks are round,
  • the child covers with his mouth not only the nipple, but almost the entire areola, and especially from below (the areola may be more visible above his upper lip).
  • sucking slow, deep, with pauses,
  • can see and/or hear swallowing,
  • the mother is comfortable, she is relaxed, calm, looking at the child, stroking him, “cooing”
  • breasts appear round during breastfeeding,
  • the child’s body is pressed against the mother’s, his chin (and often his nose) touches the chest, the child’s head and body lie in the same plane,
  • the mother supports the baby by the buttocks (important in the first months of life)
  • the child’s mouth is not wide open, lips are pulled forward,
  • lower lip not turned out,
  • child’s tongue not visible,
  • cheeks tense and drawn in,
  • the areola is more visible under the baby’s mouth
  • sucking — only fast,
  • smacking and clicking can be heard,
  • the mother is uncomfortable: her shoulders are tense, she bends over the child,
  • mother and child do not look at each other, the mother shakes the child, touches him little, supports him only by the head and shoulders, presses her finger on the chest
  • the child’s body is not pressed against the mother, his chin does not touch her chest, the child’s neck is turned
  • breasts seem to be stretched out during feeding,
  • possible breast engorgement, milk duct obstruction, mastitis, cracked and sore nipples, flat and inverted nipples

How to deal with breast engorgement, blockage of the milk duct, the initial stage of mastitis?

Signs of breast engorgement: the breast is painful, swollen, dense (especially the nipple), milk does not flow out, the skin may become shiny, reddened, body temperature may rise up to a day. What to do? — Do not let the breast «rest»! If the baby is able to suck — feed often, help to properly attach the baby to the breast (if the baby is not able to suck — express milk manually or with a breast pump). To facilitate feeding — before feeding (pumping): a warm compress or shower, massage of the neck and back, light self-massage of the mammary glands, and after feeding — a cold compress on the mammary glands to reduce swelling.

For blockage of the milk duct and mastitis: first improve the outflow of milk. To do this: first of all, correct poor attachment to the breast, eliminate the pressure of clothing (underwired bra) or fingers (incorrect support of the breast during feeding) on ​​the mammary gland, try to change positions during feeding, breastfeed more often (option — pumping) , before feeding and at the beginning of feeding, do a light self-massage of the breast towards the nipple, a warm compress on the chest; if there are nipple cracks, start their treatment. Then discuss the need for medication with your doctor.

When is expressing milk useful? And in general — is it necessary to express «to the last drop» after each feeding?

Pumping as a routine recommendation (to everyone and everyone, after each feeding, “to the last drop”) is not necessary! However, you may come across a situation where the skill of pumping is very useful to you, in particular:

  • to relieve the condition and help the baby adjust to the breast during engorgement
  • with lactostasis, blockage of the milk duct
  • when feeding is difficult — with inverted nipples, difficulties in coordinating sucking, or immaturity / prematurity / low birth weight, if the baby is sick and cannot suck on his own (what is the «banal» rhinitis!) or «refuses to breastfeed»
  • to maintain lactation while the mother or child is seriously ill
  • to maintain lactation and leave breast milk to the baby when the mother needs to be away or at work
  • to create a “gold reserve” in your freezer and build self-confidence.

In what situations is breastfeeding still contraindicated?

The World Health Organization names only six situations when a different way of feeding a child should be chosen, namely:

  1. Mother has psychosis
  2. The mother has an open form of tuberculosis
  3. Mother has HIV/AIDS
  4. The mother was treated with cytostatics; antithyroid drugs; taking radiopharmaceuticals.
  5. The child is planned for adoption (adoption).
  6. The child has metabolic disorders: phenylketonuria, galactosemia.

At the end of this article I will say: breastfeeding is such a short period in the life of your baby, but extremely important and full of meanings. The theme is almost inexhaustible! The main thing — with questions, anxieties and doubts, listen to yourself, pick up the baby’s signals, look for reliable information in reliable sources. It is good if there are girlfriends / relatives with successful (recent) breastfeeding experience, an interested caring pediatrician, a breastfeeding consultant.

By alexxlab

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