High Lipase

Hi, my name is Tara and I have high lipase in my breast milk.

I swear, there needs to be a support group just for this struggle. If you don’t have high lipase in your breast milk or if your baby doesn’t mind it, consider yourself touched by an angel. Yes, I am being a bit dramatic about this but it is also a big ol’ pain in my rear. I am going to give you some tips on how I have over come this and continued to provide my baby breast milk for 11 months and counting.

First off, I am sure you are wondering what it means to have high lipase in your milk. Lets get science-y. Lipase is an enzyme that breaks down the fats in your milk and helps the baby to digest it. When there is excess lipase, the process occurs much more quickly and can make the milk taste sour. The rate that this change in taste occurs varies from person to person and some describe the milk to taste metallic while others describe it as a soapy taste. Though the taste has changed the milk is still safe to drink but some babies refuse it because they dislike the taste.

So lets talk about how I found out that I have high lipase. I was on maternity leave and Brayden was barely two months old. We had no reason to have given a bottle at this point because although we struggle with a tongue-tie, we had a pretty decent breastfeeding relationship and were waiting until 6 weeks to introduce bottles. One of my friends was getting married a couple hours from our house and this would be the first time some of them would get to meet our baby, Brayden. I picked out a dress and pumped some milk the day we arrived to the cabin we rented, so that I had milk to give Brayden at the wedding. Well you know what they say about the best laid plans…

So as we arrive at the wedding, the sky begins to fall and the outdoor wedding ceremony gets swiftly moved into a metal roofed barn, where the reception was to be. With the hail pounding on the roof, Brayden was screaming his little head off and I was trying to shove his first bottle into his mouth. When I had no success, we passed the baby and the bottle to my husband, then my bff, and a series of other great friends to give it a shot. By the time I had given up, Brayden smelled terrible! It was milk that was pumped only a mere 24 hours ago and was stored in the refrigerator until it was packed in a cooler with ice for 30 minutes prior to this melt down. So I spent the next thirty minutes hogging the only bathroom so that I could get completely naked to feed my baby. It was not my finest moment, and he stunk for the rest of the night because I failed to bring a change of clothes. Face palm.

For weeks we tried to get Brayden to take a bottle. I sought out the advice of a lactation consultant who recommended some bottles. When that didn’t work, I spoke to our pediatrician who preferred other bottles. I bought bottles based off of recommendations from mommy groups, breast-feeding groups and my favorite mama blogs. We were rolling in bottles and forking out the dough. None of the milk was older than a day or so and sometimes he seemed like he was interested in drinking it, and then the next day he would refuse. It was so frustrating because I didn’t know what to do and my first day back to work was fast approaching. I was also pumping and freezing milk in preparation for that day, to the tune of about 300oz.

So my first 16-hour shift resulted in Brayden taking about 5 oz. the whole time that I was gone. I was devastated, worried and contemplating how we would survive if I quit my job to stay home with him. I brought up my struggles on one of the breast-feeding Facebook groups I am in and someone mentioned that I should taste the milk because I may have high lipase. DING DING DING… GIVE THAT WOMEN A PRIZE!!!!

I immediately tasted the milk that I pumped the day before and nearly threw up. No wonder he wouldn’t drink it. So then I got out a bag of milk that literally went straight from pump to freezer, and it tasted like a gross quarter (lol). So I shed a tear for all the milk that would go to waste and did a lot of research on how to process milk with high lipase.

After some trial and error this is what I found works best for me. You will want to do an experiment with an ounce or so of milk. Pump it, put it in the fridge and taste it every hour for a day to determine how quickly your lipase changes the taste of the milk. I have about half a day or so which allows me to process my milk the way that I do. What you will need is below and you probably have most of this stuff already in your kitchen.

A small pot. I prefer ceramic because the milk doesn’t bubble as you pour it and it is easy to clean. This is the exact set of pots that I use and I prefer the smallest one. I will note that I ONLY use this pot for my milk and nothing else because I want to keep it clean for the milk.

A wide mouth glass jar, with thicker glass. Note that not all glass jars are created equal. I prefer these thick “Ball” brand jars to traditional mason jars that you can buy in the packs from grocery stores. I have had one tragedy with my milk and it was after I decided to use a different brand of jars that my husband bought. I poured 3 bottles worth of milk into it and when I dunked it into the ice bath it exploded and the milk was lost. So if you are going to try this method of mine, I really recommend getting good thick jars.

A funnel so that you don’t make a mess when transferring the milk from the pot to the jar.

A bowl that the glass jar fits into. I use the smallest one of these, but will bump up to the medium one when the small one is being washed.

So at the end of each day, I take the milk that I have pumped and pour it into the clean pot. I heat it on medium-high heat until the milk starts to bubble on the sides. While I wait for the milk on the stove, I prepare an ice bath in the bowl. I put a couple scoops of ice and water into the bowl so that the glass will be submerged but that the lid will not be dunked underneath. Once the milk begins to bubble around the edges of the pot, I swirl it around a couple times to make sure that the heat is distributed evenly. When the bubbles around the edge persist, I turn off the heat on the stove and pour the milk into the glass jar, using the funnel. I immediately put the lid on the jar and dunk it into the ice bath. I leave it in the ice bath for a couple minutes while I clean the pot, pump flanges and bottles. Then I measure out the amount of a bottle and pour it into a freezer bag for later or the bottle that I want it to go for the next day’s use.

Some people aim to get the temperature between 145 degrees and 180 degrees using a digital thermometer, however there are many different sources and most vary in opinion on the details. Overall, the goal is to get the milk at a temperature hot enough so that the lipase enzyme will inactivate. This whole process takes me between five and ten minutes and I do this every day. Since the day I started “scalding” my milk, Brayden has drank it like a champ and will use any of the many bottles I bought. The time involved is a small price to pay to save all the money I would be spending on formula AND my baby gets all the goodness in the milk I have made for him.

I hope this helps someone and am more then happy to answer any questions you may have.

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