Soapy or Metallic Breastmilk: What to Do About High Lipase

Q: My pumped milk has a soapy or metallic taste to it. Is this high lipase? What can I do about it?

All stored milk will smell differently than fresh milk. If your defrosted milk has a metallic or soapy taste or smell, then it probably has higher levels of lipase. This just means that your expressed milk has a high level of this enzyme.

“Although the milk may have an ‘off’ smell or taste from the lipase enzyme breaking down the fat in the milk, this milk is not spoiled or dangerous to use,” said Christel Diamond, APN, IBCLC, and moderator of our Facebook parent support group. “Trust us, spoiled milk will make you want to gag,” she said.

If baby drinks your expressed milk with high lipase (and most do), then all is well.

“Some infants are not bothered by the change in smell/taste, whereas others may be,” Diamond said.

If your baby refuses it, try mixing in some freshly pumped milk with it to cut the taste. Play around with defrosted versus fresh ratios (half and half, three quarters fresh to one quarter defrosted, etc.) until you find a ratio that works for baby.

If baby doesn’t drink defrosted milk mixed with any ratio of fresh milk, then you may have to add in one extra step to your routine after you pump. This trick won’t work on already frozen/defrosted milk, only fresh. After you get home from work, put your milk into a saucepan on the stove and scald it. Scalding doesn’t mean boiling–it means heating the milk in a pan slowly until the edges of the milk start to bubble and hiss against the side of the pan. Turn it off right after you notice this hissing sound. Let the milk cool, then freeze it.

Scalding is believed to help slow the lipase breakdown. Only do this extra scalding step if you are 100% sure your milk has a high level of lipase and you are 100% sure baby don’t drink it. It’s an extra step in your already-busy day that you should avoid unless completely necessary.


Back to Work Breastfeeding GuideGoing back to work and breastfeeding? This question is part of Breastfeed Chicago’s Ultimate Back-to-Work Breastfeeding Guide. Read the full guide to help the transition go smoothly!

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