A Guide for Mamas Navigating High Lipase Breast Milk

Breast milk is a remarkable source of nutrition and immune protection for infants, providing numerous health benefits. But we know breastfeeding isn’t always easy for mamas, especially if they have high lipase in their breast milk. 

What is lipase?

Lipase is an enzyme naturally present in breast milk that helps break down fats and helps babies digest them. It also plays a vital role in the absorption of nutrients. And in some cases, lipase levels in breast milk can be higher than usual, resulting in a condition known as high lipase.

High Lipase and Breast Milk

Babies may reject breast milk with high lipase activity because it can develop a soapy or rancid odor and taste over time. Rejection can be distressing for breastfeeding mamas. Don't stress! You can take steps to address the issue and continue providing your baby with the benefits of breastfeeding.

Identify the Issue: If you notice that your stored breast milk smells or tastes off after refrigeration or freezing, high lipase activity might be the culprit. Conduct a smell and taste test on freshly expressed milk to determine if it exhibits any unusual changes.

Options For Reducing Lipase

Test Freshly Expressed Milk: To determine the extent of lipase activity, collect a small amount of freshly expressed milk and let it stand at room temperature for some time. If the smell and taste remain normal, it indicates that high lipase is causing the milk's flavor changes over time.

Experiment with Storage Times: Each mama's breast milk is unique, and the rate at which lipase activity affects stored milk can vary. Experiment with different storage times to find the optimal duration before the milk develops an off-putting taste.

Mix the high-lipase frozen milk with freshly expressed milk: Mixing frozen and fresh breast milk can reduce the lipase activity in the thawed frozen breast milk and minimize the development of any unwanted tastes or smells. Thaw your frozen breast milk in the refrigerator overnight or under warm running water. Once thawed, gently swirl the container to mix the separated layers of milk. Heat a small amount of water in a saucepan or pot until it reaches a gentle simmer. Make sure the water does not come to a boil.

Place the container of frozen milk into the simmering water, creating a makeshift double boiler. Ensure that the water level does not rise above the level of the milk in the container. Let the frozen milk warm up gradually in the double boiler setup for about 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally to distribute the heat evenly.

After the milk warms up, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down to room temperature. Once both the fresh and thawed frozen milk have reached room temperature, you can mix them in the desired proportions.

Scald the Milk: Scalding effectively deactivates the lipase enzyme and prevents the milk from developing an unpleasant taste. Heat the expressed milk in a saucepan on the stove until it reaches a temperature just below boiling (around 180°F or 82°C), then quickly cool and store it. This process should be done shortly after expressing the milk and before refrigerating or freezing it. Some mamas find scalding unnecessary if the milk is consumed within a shorter period, while others may need to scald their milk regardless of storage duration.

Depending on the duration and intensity of heat exposure, scalding can cause certain vitamins, enzymes, and other heat-sensitive components to degrade or diminish in concentration, but the impact varies. To help minimize nutrient loss during scalding, use gentle heat and avoid prolonged exposure. Remember, breast milk is naturally rich in nutrients, and even with a slight nutrient loss due to scalding, it remains an excellent source of nourishment for your baby.


Freeze Dry Your Breast Milk: One of the advantages of freeze drying is that it effectively inactivates the lipase enzyme in breast milk by subjecting the milk to freezing temperatures during the process and prevents the unpleasant flavor change that can occur during storage.


Scalded and freeze-dried breast milk retain the majority of protein, fat, and lipid content. But freeze-dried milk retains more enzymes and water-soluble vitamins than scalded milk. The rapid freezing helps preserve these heat-sensitive components to a greater extent, but the heat exposure from scalding milk results in some degradation or loss of enzymes and water-soluble vitamins. By freeze-drying the milk and rehydrating it when needed, mamas can still get the numerous health advantages of breastfeeding.

If you are unsure about addressing high lipase or need additional guidance, reach out to a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding support group. They can offer personalized advice and support to help you navigate this aspect of breastfeeding. So many mamas have been there and successfully overcome this challenge – you can too.

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