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144. Why Your Milk Smells Bad: High Lipase And Oxidation Plus A Look Into Your Breastmilk

Have you heard of high lipase before? I’m guessing there a good chance you have. Not only are we talking about that today but we’re also talking about oxidation and I’m willing to bet that’s something you’re NOT familiar with. That’s okay. I’m going to break it all down for you today.

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LLL: Storing Human Milk


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Read the full transcript here:

Welcome to the breezy babies podcast. This is episode 144. Highlight pace and oxidation. Why does my milk smell so bad? Could you use more confidence as a parent? Welcome to the happy place for boobs and babies, you're in good hands. Breezy babies is where we ease your transition into parenthood because it's a bumpy road, am I right? I'm your host Bri the IBCLC. And if you'd like to make life as a parent more breezy, you're in the right place. I'm here to deliver small bite sized tips and tricks so you can crush your parenting and lactation goals. I'm honored to be on this journey with you. Let's go. Hey, there. So good to be back with you for another week, I have another great episode for you today, a topic that was suggested by you this, again, like every time I get these comments of hey, do you have a podcast episode about this? I always go to my website and I you know, type in some keywords. And I say, oh my gosh, I actually don't have an episode about that topic yet yet. And this time, it happened to be high lipase and oxidation. So I don't think I have any podcast episode on this topic before. Which is kind of interesting, because this is a pretty common topic, whether you know what it is or not, you probably have smelled your breast milk before after it's been stored and thought, why does this smell so bad or what is going on? So I'm going to do a really deep dive into what high lipases what oxidation is, and just take a deep look into your breast milk and what's in there in general. So it's going to be super cool. I can't wait to share that with you. Before I get into that I want to share a Google review. This is from Rosalind show and filled she said had a great experience so far. As a first time mom I called Bree in a panic when my baby stopped latching and my milk coming in made my breasts so full and painful. I thought they would burst she got me in for a telehealth visit that same evening and provided me with lots of helpful helpful information to relieve my pain while maintaining my supply. By the next day, I was already feeling better. I look forward to follow up home visits to address latching issues. Love that that was a five star Google review that was left for us that breezy babies and I love it when number one someone reaches out to me in need. And then number two, I especially love it when they get approved for free consults. It just makes both of our days when someone truly needs help. And then they find out that they have free unlimited consults through their insurance, it just is the best if you're wondering if your insurance will cover free consults. TLN, the lactation network is who does our billing. If you click the link in the show notes, you can put in your insurance information for you and your baby. And they check to see if you're covered. And if you're approved. You get unlimited free visits with us here at breezy babies, whether it's telehealth in person doesn't even matter. So definitely check that out if you haven't yet. One other thing I want to make you aware of if you're on my email list, you already know this, we are raising our self pay prices here at breezy babies. Why are we doing that? Well, for since the beginning of time of me doing this job, I have always given a pretty significant discount to myself pay clients and I actually get reimbursed more for my insurance clients. In fact, we over the last couple years of raising babies, we have given a 30% discount to our self pay clients. Now, that has been great for herself big clients. But we found it's just not sustainable for us. And the reason that I came to this decision is we had a leak in our house. You probably didn't expect me to start the story like that. We had a pipe that was leaking gives us more of a hose like a hose that was leaking on the top of our water heater that we found it probably had been leaking for at least a full day wasn't leaking a large amount of water but it had been leaking long enough that everything around there was soaked the utility room in our basement was completely soaked with water. And the worst part of this all was number one we had already come off of a long stretch of water issues in our house. And number two, we were leaving the country in less than worked eight hours. So we were a bit panicked, we were like, how are we going to fix this in time, we can't leave with all this water down here, what are we going to do? So we call a plumber. And of course, it was after hours, as always seems to be when things are really bad. And they came, he was here for not even an hour, he took out the hose that was leaking and replaced it with more sturdy hose that was a little bit higher quality, and just kind of looked over the water heater and make sure made sure everything was working right. And he handed us the bill. And that was the moment I realized that we were severely under charging here at breezy babies, because the amount that I paid that plumber to be here and replace one hose was astronomical. So we have made the decision to change our self pay rates to match that of insurance. I wanted to give everyone a heads up though. So if you are wanting to book with us self pay at that discounted rates, it's it's gonna stay that that price until April 10 2023. And then April 10, the price is gonna go up. And so you have until then, if you go to my website, breezy, the price that you see for in home visits, the price that you see for telehealth, that's already the discounted rate. So heads up on that we, we love to support you. And we're need to find that right balance between supporting families and also getting the compensation that we need for our expertise. And for the time that we spend away from our families, really just pouring our hearts into these lactation consultation. So really appreciate you being here and for your understanding with that. Okay, let's get back to our topic. I want to start by asking you have you heard of high lipase before, I actually am guessing that there's a good chance you have heard about high lipase, I see it all the time on, you know, different Instagram accounts and mommy Facebook groups. Not only are we going to talk about high lipase today, but we're also going to talk about oxidation. And I'm willing to bet that something you're not familiar with, I bet you've never heard about oxidation. And that's okay, I'm gonna break it all down for you today. And make sure you're feeling good unconfident on these topics. I am going to be taking some quotes from the Little League website, they have a page that's breastfeeding information and milk issues, I will link it in the show notes if you want to go and read through their full page. Or you can listen to me break it down for you today. While you're driving in the car pulled in your laundry. That's the great thing about podcasts, you can just put me in your ear and go about your day and come away with you know some good tips and tricks that you can put to practice right away. So if you have ever stored breast milk in the fridge or freezer, taken it out, unscrewed the lid, and your heart dropped into your stomach because you realized that your breast milk smelled bad, then this episode is for you. Or maybe you just listen to that scenario and said to yourself, Wow, I never want that to happen to me, then this episode is also for you. I'm going to explain to you today what exactly high lipase and oxidation is how to deal with it, and what you can do if you are dealing with it in your breastfeeding life. Before we get to all that, let's take a step back and zoom in on exactly what's in your breast milk. I'm talking all the parts that are alive. Imagine we have a container of your breast milk on the kitchen counter. Okay, just picture that in your mind for a second. We were in your kitchen, there's your kitchen counter, and there's the container of your breast milk. Imagine that I take out a few drops, and I throw it under the microscope. What would we see? Well, we would see movement because of breast milk is truly alive, you would see white blood cells. In fact, you'd see a lot of white blood cells. If your baby was a newborn. You'd see less as your baby got older but they would still be there. Those white blood cells fight off infection, specifically phagocytes are white blood cells that actually eat bacteria and foreign cells that don't belong.
These and others including mast cells attach and kill infection. Really amazing right? There are also lymphocytes which provide both short term and long term immunity to your baby There's also stem cells inside your breast milk, you would see some of those. And we know stem cells were in amniotic fluid, and the umbilical cord. Of course, if you've ever looked into cord blood banking, where you can save your baby's umbilical cord in case, those stem cells are needed later in life to battle something like childhood leukemia, for example. Basically, a stem cell is an immature cell that can become anything, it can become any other type of cell, that's really valuable. And it turns out that stem cells are not just in the cord, blood and amniotic fluid. They're also in breast milk. That's important because it means that breast milk isn't just for nutrition and calories. It's also for immunity. And believe it or not, a baby can drink between 10,000 to 13 million stem cells per milliliter with every single feed. Let me say that again. Yes, I said 10,000 to 13 million stem cells per milliliter, is a very small amount, just as reference, there are 30 milliliters in one ounce. Okay, let that sink in for a second. So if your baby is drinking three, four ounces, think about how many stem cells there could be in there. Colostrum, that first milk after giving birth has way more of these stem cells than milk for say, my one and a half year old, but they're still there. Antibodies are also in breast milk that's really important for immunity. lactoferrin is in breast milk, which protects against bacterial infections. lactoferrin is in human milk, but it's also in cow's milk. But when you pasteurized milk, only 39% of that lactoferrin remains. One cool thing about lactoferrin is that it can prevent E Coli from binding to your cells and can stop that Ecoli from giving you horrible diarrhea. Just kind of a cool little fact. Bifidus factor is also in your breast milk that lets all the good bacteria grow, which is so important. Oh, I can't even tell you guys how important good bacteria is. There's more like all of those saccharides and cytokines and so much more. But I think you get the idea with all this. I want to tell you more about bioactive components, because that's where the good stuff about lipase lies. You might be wondering what the heck is a bioactive component, let me tell you, these are a specific group of things found on breast milk that promote growth and development of your baby. That's good. We like growth and development of babies. And it's also important to point out that these parts are not found in Formula only in breast milk. One bioactive component are enzymes. Human Milk has a crazy high amount of enzymes. Cow's milk, on the other hand, has several 1000 times less enzymes than human milk has. Lysosomes are one type of enzyme they kill bacteria and fight inflammation through a peroxide effect, which is fascinating. And get this lysozyme increase in your milk as your baby gets older. So this is one that doesn't start high when your baby is born and then get lower lower over time. In fact, it's the opposite, especially after six months post delivery crazy thing, because that's about the same time that your baby starts solids and what do you believe? That's when babies can pick up pathogens, and possibly diarrhea from first being exposed to solids and table food. But these lysosomes are high during that time to offset and hopefully avoid that which never ceases to amaze me how our bodies and our baby's bodies work perfectly together. So so cool. Okay, now to the good stuff here. lipase. We finally arrived at lipase. This is an enzyme case. So we're still in the enzyme category here. And my breastfeeding and human lactation textbook. This is what it says about lipase. For human infants to digest fat, adequate lipase activity and bile salt levels must be present. The bile salts stimulated lipase and lipo protein lipase, present in human milk compensate for immature pancreatic function and for the absence of amylase in babies, especially one born prematurely. I'm going to say this a bit more soon. li so it's easier to understand. But basically they go on to say when human milk is frozen or refrigerated lipase is not affected, however, and this is the important part heating severely reduces lipase activity. Okay. So again, they said when human milk is frozen or refrigerated lipase is not affected, however, heating severely reduces lipase activity. So let's talk more about high lipase or as they refer it into my breastfeeding textbook that I just
that I just quoted for you. There, they actually say, low lipase activity. So let's talk more about about this, what causes it, how to avoid it what to do if your milk is dealing with this high lipase. And let's also talk about oxidation as well. And I'm going to refer to it as high lipase because that's what's a little bit more commonly known. Okay, but we'll, we'll get into it a little bit more here. So we know more about lipase. Now it's in milk. It's in human milk. It's nothing weird or wrong. But let's say you give some of your express breast milk a whiff, and yep, it smells bad. Does that mean it's bad? Is it rancid? Let's jump in now into my top three tips. Tip number one for you is your milk is still safe to feed your baby if it's not spoiled. Let's say your stored breast milk smells soapy, or metallic or fishy or rancid, maybe even sour or spoiled. The La Leche League website says this. Accompanying these changes are concerns that the milk is no longer good for the baby. In addition, while sometimes the baby doesn't seem to care, and drinks a bottle of the expressed milk readily, other times the baby refuses to drink the milk. And sometimes, if it is actually spoiled, it isn't good for the baby. So why would milk spoil? Maybe because of improper storage? Maybe you left it out on your counter for too long. Maybe you left it in your refrigerator for a full week. Or maybe it's something called chemical oxidation, chemical oxidation. That's no good. Not safe to be to your baby. But what about the soapy or metallic or fishy or rancid odors? Let's break that down a bit more. So on the  La Leche League website, they said some people have excess lipase activity. Previously, it was believed that some people have excess lipase in their milk. But recent research has shown that to be a misunderstanding, there's nothing wrong with your milk, lipase and our enzymes found in all milks. Two kinds are well known lipo protein lipase and bile salts dependent lipase probably remember that from a book that I was reading. Each has positive roles to play in digestion and immunological effects for the baby lipase activity number one supports a baby's ability to digest fats by ensuring that the fat molecules remain well mixed into the milk in a small, easy digestible form. Number two, they break down triglycerides to release fat soluble nutrients. Number three, they release free fatty acids that provide immunological effects anti bacterial, anti viral, anti protozoan And number four, they protect against infection by intestinal parasites such such as giardia, and Cryptosporidium. So just to finish up what they say, on the luxury League website, they go on to say here, however, when lipase activity is unusually high and express milk, its work and breaking down the fats can result in a soapy or fishy aroma, and or taste that may be distasteful to the baby. The rate at which this occurs varies from one person's milk to another. For some, it occurs in less than 12 hours, while others find little or no change for up to a few days. Even when soapy milk. When the soapy smell is detected, the milk is still safe and nutritious for your baby. However, if your baby won't take it, you might try mixing it half and half with freshly pumped or expressed milk. Often babies are satisfied satisfied with the mixture and the soapy smell isn't too strong. Sometimes mixing won't work. Okay, so there's some good tips I really liked how they put that the La Leche League website. Let's move on to tip number two and that's test your freezer stash while it's still small. This is something that I tell all my clients to do because I can't tell you how many times I've worked with a client And they've worked their booty off for this huge freezer stash and then they realized that they had high lipase or oxidation. And here's the kicker, their baby refuses to drink the milk all about milk that they work so hard to save major bummer. Which by the way, yes, you can still donate your breast milk even if it has highlight paste, either formally or informally. But what a bummer it would be to discover that so before your freezer stashes large smell test a little bite defrosting it. On Kelly mom, they say, if you have frozen milk in your freezer that your child refuses, you can number one, try mixing the rejected frozen milk with fresh milk. Start with half frozen half fresh and adjust the amount of frozen milk up or down depending on your child's preferences. Or number two, you can consider donating your frozen milk to a milk bank, lipase and other taste issues are not typically a problem for milk bakes. And then they talk about how you can find your closest milk bag. So you really want to be aware of this if you're returning to work. Or if you're exclusively pumping. This would be super important to check for this early on. If you nurse your baby right at the breast, then you would never know if you had high lipase or oxidation because the only happens with stored milk. Let's go back to the La Leche website. They said if your milk turns quickly, within a few hours, and you're pumping at work, you will want to figure out a way to sculpt it before you put it in the cooler to take it home. If it seems to take longer for a soapy smell or taste to develop than waiting until you get home to sculpt it may be fine. You could conduct a smell and taste test as described above on your first batch to make sure if you haven't already done so. Okay. So again, the the highlight paste could happen very quickly. As soon as someone stores their milk, then it has that soapy smell. And for other people it could take longer and they could wait to scald the milk until they get home. If you don't know how to spell the milk. Don't worry, we're getting to that. Let's move on to tip number three. And that's be proactive to find and fix the problem. So for highly active lipase scald the milk before you store it, it has to be before if it's already turned and it has that soapy smell unfortunately, there's nothing that you can do. Let's go back to the Little League website they say you can prevent the problem from occurring with future batches of pumped or express milk. No one wants to lose their precious liquid gold. I agree with that. Freezing will not prevent lipase activity from altering the aroma or taste of your milk but scalding will, here are the steps to deactivate lipase activity. Okay, so these are the steps for scalding. You can scald your milk. Again, let me just explain this before we go into it, you can sculpt your milk before storing it so that that lipase activity isn't high, and it will not turn your milk to have that soapy taste. Okay, so here's how to sculpt number one, you place your milk in a clean pan over low heat on the stove, says you can use another heating device but to not use a microwave number to heat the milk just to the point that is bubbling around the edges, but not boiling, because boiling would destroy valuable immunological properties we don't want to, we don't want to do that. Number three, you place the pan in a larger bowl filled with ice water, use plenty of ice to cool it quickly. Number four, you store the milk in a rigid, they say polypropylene, plastic or Pyrex. And then it says to either use it in the refrigerator if you're going to use it in the next couple of days. Or just put it in the freezer if you're going to store it longer. Okay, so that's pretty easy to swallow. It definitely takes an extra step. It's a little bit of a pain. But again, if that's the difference between your baby taking your milk and not taking your milk, then it's probably worth your time to spilled your milk before you store it.
Okay, so I want to change gears a little bit now. And I want to talk about chemical oxidation since that's also what this podcast episode is about. And I want to talk about how to prevent oxidation. Because remember that chemical oxidation can mean that your milk is spoiled, which is no good. We don't want to do that you've worked hard to store your liquid gold, and we don't want it to be spoiled. So what is the root cause of chemical oxidation will lead to leaks as this. Several factors may contribute to this problem, including a diet containing poly unsaturated fats or rancid fats or drinking water with free copper or iron ions. So anytime I'm working with a family where we feel like oxidation could be a possibility, number one I asked about their water what water do they drink? Do they drink bottled water do they drink tap water. They do drink tap tap water. That's a huge flag for me that the oxidation might be going on. And I also asked about their diet and also what supplements they're taking. Because supplements like fish oil, flaxseed supplements, anything with oils in it can actually trigger this oxidation to happen. And for my clients that are drinking tap water and dealing with this, sometimes we'll talk about drinking bottled water instead. And another thing that they mentioned on the luxury League website that I think is good is increasing your antioxidant intake. So that could be including more beta carotene in your diet or more vitamin E in your diet. And they finish off on their website by saying when chemical Oxidation occurs, the milk is spoiled and must be discarded and sculpting the milk will only make the problem worse. However, the above dietary changes should help you resolve the problem completely without the extra work of heat treating your milk. So there you have it. That is pretty much everything you need to know about lipase and oxidation. I hope that was helpful for you're feeling a little bit more confident going into this and just in case one day you happen to find that your milk is not smelling quite right. Again, those top three tips are number one, your milk is still safe to feed your baby as long as it is as it is not spoiled. Number two, test your freezer stash while it is still small. And number three, be proactive to find and fix the problem. Thank you so much for being here today. I hope you come back next week for another fun topic. And of course I'm going to leave you with you're strong, you're smart, you're beautiful, you're a good friend to all by. If you would like more help, check us out at breezy It's the happy place for boobs and babies, where you can take an online workshop on topics from breastfeeding to baby gas. Learn baby massage, get a pumping plan before returning to work and even get one on one lactation help from our IBCLC we meet with families both in home and also all over the world via secure video and guess what? These lactation consultations might even be covered by your insurance. Click the link in the show notes or visit breezy to see if you qualify. Also connect with us at breezy babies on Instagram and YouTube.

Intro to the episode.

How to get free consults.

What’s in your breastmilk?

Lactoferrin protects against bacterial infections.

What is lipase and what does it do?

Is your milk safe to feed your baby?

Test your freezer stash while it's still small.

Scald your milk before storing it.

How to prevent chemical oxidation of milk.

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