Excess Lipase: An Emotional Struggle

Update October 2014: I have taken my experiences with excess lipase activity, combined it with interviews with trusted medical professionals, and turned it into a 40+ eBook. If you are looking for more information about excess lipase activity and support from a mother who has been there, then this eBook is for you.

Click here to learn more about my eBook “Why Does My Breast Milk Taste Bad?”

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Excess Lipase: An Emotional Struggle

Don’t know what lipase is? Read Excess Lipase: An Introduction.

Grace has always been a very good sleeper at night. From day one she only got up once or twice at night. She has been sleeping through the night since she was a month and a half old! We have been extremely blessed in that department!! Since she has always slept well, I would find myself with some “extra” milk after her first morning feeding. So I started pumping once a day after her first feeding.

Quickly I got into a simple routine. We wake up. I feed Grace. I let Grace play while I pump and then I eat breakfast. Some mornings I would tell Grace, “Now be good while Mommy pumps. I’m pumping milk for later. I pump because I love you!”

Since I am a stay-at-home mom, that milk truly was meant to be for “later.” My goal was to be able to give Grace breast milk in a sippy cup after she had weaned. I also planned on using breast milk in her cereal or to help dilute her baby food. Each morning I was pumping an average of 4 oz that was being put into Grace’s personal milk bank for the future. I haven’t added it all up yet, but I’m guessing there are over 400 oz of frozen breast milk in my freezer.

That is 400 oz of milk that tastes bad. 400 oz of milk that Grace doesn’t want to drink. 400 oz of milk that I can’t use. My heart is broken…

After all of the work that I did to collect this milk for “later”, I am devastated that I won’t be able to use it. I am upset that I might not be able to give Grace breast milk in a cup or in her cereal. I’m mad that this has happened to me instead of to a mother who doesn’t want to breastfeed.

This condition seems to be so rare that there isn’t that much information about it out there. I’ve had more than one lactation consultant tell me incorrect information on what steps I should take to “fix” my milk. They have suggested that I pump, freeze and then scald. However, once the bad taste as formed there really isn’t anything you can do about. That is why I need to pump, scald and THEN freeze.

It also doesn’t help things that I don’t seem to be getting along with my main lactation consultant. We simply don’t communicate well together. I ended up getting extremely frustrated with her during our last phone conversation. I let her know it, too! That shouldn’t happen. I should feel supported. Instead she made me feel like crap.

I seem to have figured out how I can continue to store milk now that I am scalding it first, so the big question now is: what should I do with all that frozen milk? I have 3 options:

1) Many women have found success in mixing half of the bad tasting milk with half of the fresh milk. I tried that once with Grace so far and she didn’t like it. I’ll try it again before I give up on it. I can also try mixing it with her cereal, although I don’t have much faith in this. The milk tastes nasty!

2) I can throw it all away. I simply can’t do that. I just can’t.

3) I can donate it to a milk bank. I’ve been in contact with the Human Milk Bank of American and they are interested. Right now I think this is the best option for me.

The emotions of this whole thing might be very hard to understand if you aren’t a breast feeding mother. The best way I can explain it is this: Imagine that you have worked one extra hour of over time every day for the past 5 months. You saved every penny and planned to use that money to go on a dream vacation or buy something you have always wanted. Then one day someone comes along and tells you that the money you have worked so hard to save isn’t real. Your dream for the vacation or special purchase is gone and you have to throw all the money away.

It all just sucks big time.

Want to learn more about excess lipase? Click here to check out my new eBook!

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Comments

  1. Angela says

    That really sucks! I’m sorry that you are having such a hard time. But you are creative! I’m sure you’ll find a way to incorporate it into Grace’s food. Perhaps mixing it with a stong juice to dilute it to help with the tast. Could you mix it in with formula? Don’t give up!!

  2. Stacie says

    I JUST discovered I have this same problem yesterday and found your blog by googling the lipase issue. I’m still praying that not ALL of my frozen milk is destroyed and it’s only the older stuff, but I’m still looking at well over 100 oz, and that’s best case scenario. I COMPLETELY understand how devastating this is. I’m wondering too about whether there’s any sort of flavoring I could add, but that tangy, nasty aftertaste is hard to imagine disguising. And mixing with fresh milk is risky, too, because you risk wasting the precious fresh milk. It takes so much work to pump this milk, and you feel so proud when you’re doing it. For me, I work and was planning to use this for when I have to take work trips, which is also a scary prospect for me now. Anyway, just wanted to send hugs your way!

    • says

      I am so glad that you found my blog! This whole situation is just the pits and I think that talking with other excess lipase moms can be helpful. Please keep me udate on your situation. At this point I’m trying to become approved as a milk donor. I honestly don’t want to mess with trying to get my girl to drink the nasty stuff. This whole this is too much of a head ache already! I would rather give away my milk and know that I was able to bless some little babies. I plan on writing a post about the process I use to scald my milk. Please let me know if you have any questions or tips about that! God Bless you in this journey!

  3. Karina says

    YOU are DEVASTED because your stored a bunch of breast milk that tastes bad and your kid can’t drink it??? You won’t throw it away because YOU did so mauch to collect it and save it?

    Geez lady, this isn’t about YOU it’s about your kid. If the stuff tastes bad GET RID OF IT! Breast milk is not some precious gem or rare element, it’s just a body fluid. And enough with the emotional words. People are DEVASTATED when their husband dies, their house burns down, their kid gets cancer. Really, you sound like the ultimate narcissist!

    Karina

    • Jessica says

      Dude… what a bitch!!! You know how much work and time it takes to pump 400 ounces. I breastfeed my son and i just found out that i produce excess lipase… it is pretty devastating…. do you know how much time it takes and how much work it is to pump and store up all that milk… she wasn’t saying her baby wasn’t important!! It takes an incrediable emotional toll on a person when this happens. You go from feeling so accomplished that you did this for your child to getting slapped in the face. While we are very lucky that are children are healthy and that this is the biggest problem, it is still though… have a freakin heart Karina…

    • Mama By Faith says

      Oh my goodness, Karina!! I am about 4 years late to comment to your comment, but my what is your problem?? My guess is that something else is going on, but you could also just be the B_ _ _ _ that someone else predicted. Why even comment? Didn’t your mother teach you that if you didn’t have something nice to say…?

      Anyway, again 4 years later, I still feel for you Rebekah. I have been fortunate to be a stay at home mom with my son who is now almost 18 months old. We tried for a baby for more than 8 years and 6 rounds of IVF before we conceived my precious baby boy. Needless to say, I would do anything possible to make sure that he had what he needed to be strong and healthy and bf is one of those things that I am still committed to doing.

      Fortunately, I did not have to make it a habit of pumping because of not having to go back to work, but there was a time that I thought I needed to and wasn’t sure how I could endure – so much time having to stay still and that annoying sound that makes you feel like a cow. I commend you women who diligently pump for your babies while you work to make ends meet. All hard work. Being at home with baby is hard work, being a work to come home to baby and work – very overwhelming without a lot of help. Add pumping to that and I fear I’d lose my mind!!

      I say all of this to help make my point – that pumping is the pits and I do feel your pain (even almost 4 years later)!

      You are a hero!!! :) (All you MOMS and Mamas By Faith…it will happen.)

      • Rebekah Hoffer says

        Thank you so much for your encouragement and for sharing your story. You are such a sweetheart. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Leslie Brown says

    OMG….I was scouring the net desperatly looking for an answer as to why my thawed milk tastes HORRIBLE! This was not what I wanted to find. I, too have been storing milk – I have over 60, 5oz bags in the freezer AND I work full time. I have to pump for Lawson’s food for the next day on my breaks so I have gotten up extra times in the middle of the night to pump for my *later* supply for cereals and baby food…..please, please tell me you have found a solution? I am literally sick over this….hours and hours and hours and hours and hours…..down the drain????? Will it hurt Lawson to give it to her IF she will drink it?

    • says

      I am so sorry that you may be joining the excess lipase club. It isn’t a club that is fun to join, BUT you can store milk from now on if you scald it before you freeze it. Currently I have 3 posts about excess lipase: this one, Excess Lipase: An Introduction and Excess Lipase: Scalding Breast Milk. I highly recommend that you read the one on scalding breast milk. In that post you can read how I scald my milk so that it will freeze ok. At the end of that post I have a link to a forum on the Le Leche League website that I found extremly helpful.

      If Lawson will drink the milk then you can still give it to her. There is nothing “wrong” with the milk except for the taste. I hope that she takes it for you, but if she doesn’t then you could consider donating your already frozen milk. On Monday I am going to be shipping 575 oz of milk to a milk bank in Ohio. I truly understand your heart ache about this. I’m so sorry. :( Please keep me posted and let me know if there is anything I can do to help!

      • Leslie Brown says

        I found your other post on scalding breastmilk. After several hours of ‘experimenting’ with my supply (frozen and fresh) I have concluded it is definately excessive lipase :( The fresh milk that I scalded (thank you for the instructions – I am still using the stove for now….blah!) has been fresh in the fridge since Friday. The unscalded fresh milk had begun to go *bad* by late Saturday evening. All my freezer supply is *bad*. I defrosted over 20 bags from different time frames and all were just gross. Looks like I need to go ahead and get my ‘excess lipase’ membership card laminated….oh well, on we go! Thank you again for sharing your story….others are out here searching for answers. Best wishes and happy scalding.

  5. Jody says

    The same thing has just happened to me and I’m gutted. I have a 6 month old and since she was 4 months, I’ve only been able to feed her myself in the morning because my supply is so low at other times. I am on medication to increase my milk supply and I still express throughout the day so I can get one more bottle of breast milk per day for her. She has 4 feeds a day, 1 breast, 1 EBM and 2 formula. And in the last few weeks, my supply has gone down further so I’ve been using my freezer stores. And about 1 in 3 have gone down the drain (they all smell either soapy or rancid – I give her the soapy-smelling ones, because she doesn’t seem to mind the taste, but the rancid ones I just have to throw out! So painful!) I’m so frustrated that I only learnt about excess lipase 20 minutes ago – I spend so long expressing and it’s just heartbreaking to have to throw it away. I am just about to go and give my daughter a big cuddle to make myself feel better :)

  6. Cindy says

    I have come to believe that this is not a rare problem. And I also think “excess lipase” is not a completely accurate term. It is probably the exactly right amount of lipase for your baby. We are trying to do something completely unnatural by storing our milk. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that often it just doesn’t work without herculean efforts.

    I think a majority of women’s milk changes flavor from being frozen and part of that is the lipid breakdown from lipase. Perhaps, for most of the women, the flavor change is not substantial enough to ever be noticed. For some moms, they notice the stuff smells/tastes gross but the baby still drinks it. There is then a subset of infants who will drink the milk if it is “cut” with fresh milk. And then there is the smallest subset who will reject the milk no matter what.

    It’s a continuum and even that last smallest subset is bigger than I think is generally acepted.

    I now tell any mom I know who is planning on pumping that they need to establish their own storage duration guidelines during the first couple of weeks of pumping. Find out for yourself how long YOUR milk stays palatable in room temperature, refrigerated and frozen. And you can test if the milk will be accepted even if it doesn’t seem appealing to you. Our milk is not all the same so those magnets that come with the breastpump isn’t the law of milk storage. Those guidelines were useless to me. They were based on studies that measured bacteria not “palatableness”.

    I think this link should be read by every woman who plans on pumping and storing milk:
    http://drjaygordon.com/breastfeeding/worknursetips.html

  7. Katie says

    Can you refrigerate the scalded milk instead of freezing? For example, if I pump and scald on Friday, can my baby drink that milk on Monday while I am at work? Thanks for the bottle warmer advice, it is awesome. I can scald without warming my whole house!

    • says

      Yes, you can refrigerate scalded milk. You should be able to keep your milk in the fridge for about a week like what is normally recommended for breast milk. I personally keep mine in the fridge for about four days on a regular basis.

  8. Michele says

    I’ve been reading through your collection on posts on lipase. Thank you so much for sharing! What you’ve written really resonates with me.

  9. Anna says

    I just have to say WOW!!! about Karina’s comment! How insensitive! Breast milk is not just a body fluid, it is a a precious element! Liquid gold! I feel exactly like you do and I only had about 100 oz stored when I figured it out. It was about 6 years ago and I couldn’t find any info at all, and I threw it all away. :-( I scalded my last child’s milk regularly, using the pot on the stove. I did not have the problem with my twins who got elusively pumped milk.

    I have sent a mother over to your blog for some more info. (I watch her baby 1 day a week) Thanks so much for posting it and let me just say, Hi, Traci!! Glad you found the info!!

    • says

      I had a lot of trouble finding information about lipase also. That is one reason why it was so important for me to blog about my story. Thanks for sharing my site with another mama in need!

  10. Kim says

    I’m devastated to discover that I think I have the same problem. I have half a freezer of milk, my boy started daycare today and I go back to work on Wednesday. I hope to be able to keep up with fresh pumped milks but I’ve worked for 10 weeks to build up such a stash. So far I’ve discovered this with milk that was about 2 months old. I’m thawing some now that is only one month old and will try it with some that is a week or so old also to see if maybe its less affected by short periods. I’m so upset by this especially since I didn’t have the problem with my first son. I’ll be using your posts about donating if my baby won’t take this milk. Thanks for your posts there isn’t much out there about excess lipase.

    • says

      Kim, this breaks my heart. I can’t imagine finding out you have excess lipase just days before going back to work. I’m so sorry! I have two pieces of advice for you:

      1) This week while your boy is in daycare, start using your newest frozen milk first & work backwards from there until it gets that “sour” taste. Freezing the milk slows down the lipase, but it doesn’t stop it. By using the newest stuff first you’ll have a chance to use it before it goes “bad.” You just might be able to use a few weeks worth of milk after all.

      2) From now on scald your pumped breast milk. You can do that on the stove, but I used the bottle warmer method and that worked better for me. I wrote a how to guide for scalding that you can find on my “Excess Lipase” page.

      Don’t give up, Kim!

  11. Dineen says

    Thank you for sharing your story. My little girl is now 3 1/2 ( we’re still BF’ing at bedtime and some mornings). Your story convinces me that we had high lipase issues too. My girl never took a bottle. It made even relatively short trips away from her difficult, because she wouldn’t accept any milk from her daddy (also a stay-at-home parent).
    I was never able to pump much, so I didn’t have to deal with the emotional struggle of that liquid gold. The emotional struggle of a distressed girlie whenever I came home, stressed out because because her mommy was gone. Unfortunately while I found information about the excess lipase at LLL, the scalding information wasn’t there at the time. It may have made things easier for all three of us; mom, baby and dad.

  12. Lani says

    Sadly I am also joining the “Excess Lipase” club. I go back to work in 3 weeks and have over 600 oz. of “bad” milk frozen. What I don’t understand is that I read about the excess lipase problem in “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” shortly after I had my son. He was born in June, so in July and August I was sure to give him frozen breastmilk. Since August I haven’t given him much of the frozen milk and just realized it is all bad. Any ideas why it was good for the first two months of breastfeeding and now it is bad? I have heard that you can have excess lipase with one baby and not the next. Any frozen un-scalded milk I give him is terrible be it from July, August or two days ago. Perhaps he just became picky?? My thoughts to all of you mamas who also have this problem.

    • says

      Lani, I’m not sure why it took you awhile to notice the lipase. I didn’t discover my problem until Grace was 5 months old! I honestly don’t know if it is something that develops over time, if it is the taste of the baby, or some other reason. I wish I could be more help. :(

      If your son truly won’t drink the “bad” milk, then please consider donating it to a milk bank. You can find details of my experience with milk donation here: http://simplyrebekah.com/excess-lipase

  13. .:karen:. says

    I had to post on the Leaky B@@b’s facebook wall to have someone point out “excess lipase” to me as a possibility for why my milk was tasting soured/spoiled.

    One day, I used some milk to mix in with cereal and it smelled “off” so I trashed it, thinking I hadn’t sealed the bag properly. Then, during the past couple of weeks, my daycare provider had sent home my daughter’s evening bottle with me to use in cereal or something since she hadn’t finished it. Both times I tried using it, I realized it tasted rancid. I thought to myself, “How long is she keeping this stuff out??”

    So this morning, I took a bag from 12/13 (my oldest milk in the freezer is only 3 weeks old), defrosted it, sipped it and found it tasted bad too. I was also devastated. (Yes, I can say devastated. It is a lot of time, effort, pain invested into pumping and my supply is so low that if I nix all of what I have, well over 100+ oz, then my daughter would no longer be able to be exclusively breastfed. I would need to start supplementing with formula which can be a tricky path to still keep up supply. And while that’s not the end of the world, it’s not what I want for my baby. Nor do I want to waste money on something that is inferior to what I can provide my child for free.)

    I found info on kellymom.com ( http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/lipase-expressedmilk.html ) and then came across your site. My daughter drinks the milk most days, but still fights the bottle periodically and I think this is the most likely culprit. Personally, I wouldn’t want to drink it… :(

    I am glad to know that I have an option to allow me to keep pumping but dang, this is going to be tough to fit in at the end of an already long work day, getting dinner on and getting two kiddos to bed. Half the time, I’m not done with all of that til 9:30 and I’m exhausted. :( But, again, it’s the lengths I’m willing to go thru for my kiddo. I only got to BF her sister for 5 months before she weaned herself (or went on a nursing strike, more likely but I didn’t know what those were at the time) so I desperately want to make it to at least a year of EBF my second daughter.

    • says

      Karen, I’m sorry to hear about your lipase struggles. I hope that scalding works out for you. I really feel for working moms who struggle to get it all done and then have lipase issues thrown on top of it all. It just doesn’t seem right. :(

  14. becky says

    I had this with my second child I must have found out january 2010 when she was a couple of months old just before your amazing blog defo should be more info out there I didn’t have problem with my boy 2 years before so assumed would be the same I couldn’t understand why sudden change still don’t really. now I don’t know if I did have a third child which breastfeeding experience I would have?

  15. yvette says

    hi :-) i’m another mum with the damn lipase problem. thanks for posting such great info on here and the LLL forum. i didn’t have a giant freezer stash built up, thank goodness, because i don’t have to pump too much just yet. he eats straight from the source… until i go back to work in four weeks. i’m now working on pumping and scalding twice a day to get a nice little back-up supply to supplement what i can pump at work. thank you!

    • says

      You’re welcome! We really are the lucky ones – the ones who don’t NEED to rely on pumping. My heart always breaks for the working moms who loose their hard earned frozen stash.

  16. Laura says

    Hello,
    I too found I have this problem. It hasn’t been a huge issue for me, as I haven’t had to or wanted to be away from my son, who is now 10 months old. But it would have been nice to have some flexibility ocassionaly!
    I just read a post that said it could be related to gallbladder problems, and I am currently on the NHS waiting list to have mine removed. Anyone else have any Gallbladder issues?

    • says

      Laura, I’ve never heard of the gallbladder problem causing excess lipase. I don’t have gallbladder issues (that I know about!), but who knows. There might be a connection. As far as I can tell, no one really knows WHY excess lipase happens to some women. If you notice a change after you have your gallbladder removed, please come back and tell us!

  17. Mary-Ann says

    Hi there Rebekha

    Thanks for the info… I too have excess lipase. My milk went sour quickly after pumping – I never did the research with my first son – I thought the fact that it was mid-summer with 45 degree (Celsius) South African Summer heat had something to do with the fact, even though every utensil was cleaned and sterilised. I have just pumped for my second son, born in mid-winter and yip, same sour milk. I want to be able to give my son expressed milk for when I need to get away but I will have to scald it before chilling it as suggested…

    Best wishes

  18. Mona says

    This page really touches me.. I just found out about the excess lipase issue after I tasted the thawed milk my daughter refused, and I did exactly what you did. Even sometimes I purposely wake up in the middle of the night just to pump so I can save for later.. it’s really just hard to accept this fact.. i’m still thankful that i can pump at work and still breastfeed my daughter, but everytime i think about all the extra work i did to have those freezer stash, it just breaks my heart.. but thank you for this wonderful website. i just bought a bottle warmer and thermometer, will try tonight with the experiment, to see how long my milk is good without scalding.. thank you again!

    • says

      Oh Mona… I’m so sorry. I feel your pain. I hope the scalding method works well for you and your little girl. Good luck!

      PS. If you have a lot of frozen milk, I hope you will consider donating it instead of throwing it away.

  19. Traci says

    It seems we all have the same common reaction here – disappointment, frustration, and utter sadness over the loss of what feels like the most precious resource in the world… I could not identify more!

    I just discovered the excess lipase issue this week… My son is 7 months old, and has been taking bottles of expressed breast milk while at daycare since I went back to work after my maternity leave (for the past 4 months) with no issues what-so-ever. He has always been a great eater when I nurse him AND when he takes a bottle at school. About three weeks ago he suddenly started refusing his bottles. He would take about a half ounce to an ounce and refuse the rest – he even got mad and swatted at the bottle when his teachers tried to feed him the remaining milk.
    He has had some problems recently with fluid in his ears and is teething, so I just assumed one or both of those issues were the problem. When his ears started to get better and his tooth finally broke the surface, I couldn’t understand why he was still refusing the bottles. He was nursing from me without any problems. Everyone kept telling me that it was just a phase and to let him get past it in time, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of him going hungry during the day (he went from 15 ounces per day to about 2 ounces!)… I was looking for anything I could find online that might explain the sudden refusal, and came across some info on excess lipase. I did some experimenting with his expressed milk (taste tests) and sure enough, it tasted horrible (like vomit with a metallic taste to the milk). I feel terrible that I’ve been sending him to school with milk that tastes so bad – no wonder the poor little guy wouldn’t take his bottles!
    I also defrosted some of my freezer stash and taste tested it. Sure enough, all of the frozen milk seems to be affected as well. That means my entire stash of frozen milk (probably about 200+ozs in all) is virtually useless for my son. It is heartbreaking, and it is a little scary that i have no “safety net” in case of emergencies.
    That said, I tried the scalding method and sent the milk with him to school yesterday and he DRANK ALL OF IT! My poor baby finally is getting the milk he needs because it doesn’t taste terrible.
    As upsetting as the loss of my freezer stash is, I am just so relieved to finally know what the problem is and how to deal with it. It’s scary to not have a back-up supply in case of emergency (illness, travel, etc) but we’ll just have to adapt and get through it. I have no idea why my son suddenly started refusing the milk after 4 months of taking it with no problems – this remains the biggest mystery, but I am just relieved to at least know what the problem is so that we can deal with it and move on!

    Thank you Rebekah (and all of the other moms out there) for your stories and for all of the information! I will be reaching out to a milk bank to see if I can donate my frozen milk. At least someone can benefit from it (hopefully)…

    • says

      Traci, I teared up reading your story. My mama’s heart just breaks thinking about your poor little boy not eating during the day because of “bad” milk. Praise the Lord, you discovered the problem! Bless you and all the sacrifices you are making for your son. You should feel so proud of yourself.

      Keep me updated on your donation process!

      • Traci says

        It was pretty rough, but luckily my son has started supplementing his milk with solid (pureed) food. I make everything at home, so at least he was getting a little bit of nutrition from the fruits/veggies I sent to school with him over those three weeks or so. He also started nursing more at night (assuming he was doing this to make up for his “missed” bottles at school). But yes, during that time it was heartbreaking to feel so helpless and be so worried about my little guy. Only another mom can understand what that feels like.
        The good news is that he has done much better with the bottles at school over the last couple of days (I think he is still a little wary and maybe getting over a negative association with the bottles at this point) since I started scalding the milk, so it looks like we are slowly making progress on the road back to normal!
        Thanks again for your blog and all the information you’ve posted – it turned out to be a lifesaver for us!!

        • says

          My daughter never loved taking a bottle. I’ve always wondered if it was because of her excess lipase “trama” or if it was just her personality. I hope your son gets over it quickly for you.

          Good luck!

  20. Vanessa says

    Thank you for writing about this! I had this problem with my first baby, for whom I exclusively pumped, and didn’t know what it was. I ended up throwing out over 1000 ounces of pumped breastmilk that I had frozen and which was supposed to get her to 1 year of breastfeeding after I stopped pumping around 10 months, because it smelled funny. I was devastated! I couldn’t donate it, either, as I was on a medication at the time. This time around I am nursing, but I work full time and am finding my milk is going “bad” before the baby needs to drink it. I think he takes the refrigerated stuff okay despite the taste, but he won’t drink the thawed frozen milk. I’m going to try your bottle warmer scalding method–maybe that will even work if I need to scald at work. Thank you SO much! I used to feel so fortunate that I could pump well, since some moms struggle with that, but now I just feel sad. :/

  21. Anna says

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been pumping for my son (first child) every morning and just now realized that I may have this issue. I have some of my frozen milk stash thawing right now (have not yet used any of it) and am dreading the results. Although this may explain why we’ve been struggling with bottle refusal for so long. It’s the worst feeling knowing I’ve been trying to get my sweet little guy to drink this awful stuff, thinking it was normal bottle refusal. :(

    Oddly, my milk doesn’t smell or taste bad until it’s warmed, though. I had been smelling it when I took it out of the fridge before warming and serving it, so that’s why I never detected the issue. Last night, I caught a whiff of it after he ate and decided to taste it for the first time – it was terrible. No wonder he’s been crying when he eats! Then I checked some that was chilling in the fridge: warming it made the smell and taste much worse. Strange. Anyway, at least I’m feeling less alone after reading this…so thank you, Rebekah.

    • says

      Discovering my lipase problem was like a light bulb going off. I had a similar situation where my daughter was really finicky about taking a bottle. It was so frustrating, but then it suddenly all made sense. I felt awful about it.

      Good luck moving forward. Keep me posted!

  22. Deb says

    I just figured it out tonight! I have a 4yo who I breastfed until 18 months and started daycare at 4 months, and an 8-month-old who has never liked taking bottles at daycare. Neither would/will take more than 3-4 ounces at a time, and usually just 1-2 ounces. It was always assumed that it was my kids who were difficult. My sister figured out tonight that she has excess lipase and recalled that our mom said she never would take bottles of breast milk as a baby (I was formula-fed so never ran into that problem). That prompted me to go taste my fresh vs frozen milk and voila, my frozen-then-thawed milk is soapy tasting! It runs in our family! My poor kids. It was, as you say, like a light bulb going off! Rather than being sad about the milk I couldn’t use, I feel bad about the unpleasant experiences I forced both my kids through as a working mom. I don’t have much of a stash, but that’s because it’s been poured down their throats against their will. :-( I know the milk won’t hurt them, but I’m sure it has made their feeding times at daycare a struggle every day. I am loathe to add scalding to my daily routine as I, like all moms, am so tired already. But maybe I’ll get motivated and my baby’s daytime drinking will improve. Thanks for your post!

    • says

      Deb, I wonder how many mothers share your story, but never figured out that it was a lipase issue. I truly wish more mothers new about excess lipase. Just think of all those bottle refusing babies that could be happier!

      I completely understand how frustrating it is to add scalding to an already busy routine. I strongly encourage you to give it a try. The bottle warmer method doesn’t require you to “babysit” your milk on the stove and you might find that you can easily squeeze scalding in.

      Keep me posted and good luck!

  23. Lisa says

    Thank you so much for all these posts on the lipase issue. I’m breastfeeding daughter #2 — never thought I had this issue, but I think it never came up because daughter #1 didn’t ever have much of a freezer stash (I suspect my milk sours after 3 or 4 weeks in the freezer). Thought our new baby was just refusing bottles since she was unaccustomed to them, until my poor husband drank some of her bottle as a joke. Luckily, we had already planned on donating my stash since I had too much, so it is only an issue moving forward. We’ll scald everything and hope to donate again! This way if we don’t donate it I can be sure my daughter will still drink it.

    • says

      Lisa, it is wonderful that you will be able to donate some of your milk. Please keep in mind that milk banks will not accept milk that has been scalded if you hope to donate again. You could always donate your scalded milk through a private milk donation.

  24. Jenaca says

    So, my husband and I just figured out 3 hours ago that this is our problem. I tasted my milk, it tasted like soap, I almost threw up. I made my husband taste it to confirm, he almost threw up, and said “I feel like I just bit into a bar of Dove!” He is the one who found the info on excess lipase, then I found this blog and started reading. I go back to work in 2 days and have a bunch of milk in the freezer…nowhere near 575 ounces, but… :) Anyway, I’m glad I found your blog, I will purchase a bottle warmer tomorrow, and talk to my lactation consultant, and look into milk donation. I never would have thought I could still donate the milk. I am just glad that now we know and our struggle is over BEFORE my daughter spent the entire time I was at work screaming and refusing to eat. Thanks for all the great info!

    • Rebekah says

      I hope things are going well for you, Jenaca. The transition back to work can be difficult. You don’t need lipase problems to make things worse! Let me know if you have any questions about the scalding process.

  25. Karen says

    So glad I found your site! I’m now dealing with the highly active lipase problem with child #2 but I just learned that this is what the problem is today during an iPad and pumping session during the wee morning hours. The strange things in my experience are that 1) with my son I didn’t have this problem until all of the sudden when he was about 11 months old. I actually thought I was having trouble getting my pump sterilized enough and ordered replacement parts. When the problem continued I stopped pumping as he was eating solids at that point to supplement my lower production. Strange thing 2) is that my milk turns soapy in the fridge within about 1 hour (!) of pumping it when I’ve pumped for my daughter. Both of my children refuse this milk. I am a SAHM so thankfully I don’t need it for while I work but I would like to get a supply frozen for just in case and if I ever get a chance to go out. My 2 1/2 month baby’s style of nursing is snacking so she really only goes about 20 minutes before she wants to nurse again whenever she is awake which makes it hard for me to run out for even a brief trip somewhere without her. Have you encountered anyone else reporting their milk turning so quickly?

    • Rebekah says

      Karen, one hour does seem awfully fast, but I don’t think you are alone. I have heard of milk turning in 4 hours. I can imagine that one hour is also possible. Will you try scalding your milk?

  26. Kristy says

    My baby will be 12 months in a week. I have pumped at least 2 times a day, just about every day the past year. I did this to keep my supply up and so I would be able to give it to her when I decided to wean (like you). Well, a week ago I decided it was time for me to wean. No biggie, b/c I had so much milk stock piled that I went out and bought a deep freezer for it (I am guessing about 800-1000oz). I think she had thawed milk for a few feedings one night when we had to leave her for a medical procedure for my older daughter. Other than that, I always had expressed milk in the fridge if my husband needed to feed her. Well, yesterday was the first time I needed to give her thawed milk to mix with cow’s milk (she is not transitioning well). Long story short, it smells and tastes like vomit. I am in the beginning stages of this but I know it is horrible. I have taken different months, from different freezers, thawed them different ways all with the same results. I am in denial. I am angry. I am mourning. She will not take it and I can’t blame her. I tasted the stuff and it is disgusting. Now I am mid-wean with a sweet baby who will not drink cow’s milk, goat’s milk, almond milk, or kefir. To top it off, I was on fenugreek so I can not donate it. DEVASTATED.

    • Rebekah says

      Oh Kristy… I am so sorry. Is there any way that you can stop weaning and build up your supply again?

      Don’t throw out your frozen milk yet. There has to be something that can be done with it. I’m not sure what, but let me think about this some more.

  27. Maria says

    I had this issue with Baby #1—same exact situation. I spent 4 months pumping and storing and so proud of myself that I was leaving for work with a huge supply of milk for my daughter….and then as we began to prepare for the transition, we realized the milk tasted disgusting! I had to pump from one day to the next—not fun!

    Anyway, I’m currently pregnant with #2. Have you breastfed any other children and did you come across this problem again? I’m just curious if there is a chance I can avoid this issue again.

  28. Christy says

    Can the bad tasting milk be mixed with formula to hide the taste? I have to go back to work soon and I wold like to be able to get some breastmilk into my little guy instead of going to exclusively to formula during the day,

  29. Alicia says

    I know this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I have had success topping off 4oz of formula with 2oz of lipase milk and feeding it to my twins. This was milk donated to me via the FB site human milk for human babies. It’s a way to still use the milk and get it inside baby’s body where it can still do some good! That FB site is great, there’s one for many different states, and many moms grateful for donated milk.

  30. Katie D says

    I have 750ish oz myself, and I am also on medications that exclude me from milk donation. Our girl was in the NICU for 84 days, so we have a ton of milk stored from when she was NPO and then only eating a couple oz a day because of needing extra calories from formula. She still gets a 1:1 mixture of milk and a specialty formula when she doesn’t nurse, so we’re still storing a ton – thank you for publishing this so I can make sure at least what we store from here stays good! Here’s hoping she’ll take some of the grassy smelling milk with her formula now that I know it isn’t bad for her…

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      Best of luck to you, Katie. Please be sure to double check with your pediatrician about giving your daughter scalded milk. I would be surprised if they told you not to, but I would feel better about you asking since she was a NICU baby.

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