Trouble Introducing the Bottle
I've been pumping and freezing breastmilk since May in
preparation for returning to work. Now I'm back at work and
have thawed the frozen breastmilk, only to discover that it
tastes pretty gross. Tastes stronger and more unpleasant than
fresh breastmilk. My 6 month old son has only tried it once but
he frowned and only took a couple of sips. Already he eats very
little when I'm away and tanks up more at night. I don't want
to put him off his new skill of drinking from a cup by serving
an unpleasant beverage. My questions: What to do about the
gross tasting breastmilk' Is it better to serve this or to
supplement with formula as needed' Is there a way to freeze
breastmilk so that it tastes better' (I've been using the
Medela bags, not double bagged) Thanks!!
Oh boy. You might have my problem. I couldn't store my
breastmilk because (I found out after trying every storage system
available and finally out of desperation contacting a lactation
consultant) that I have high amounts of lipase in my milk, which
causes it to decompose more quickly. (Lipase is an enzyme that
breaks down fat.) I could store my milk for about 8-10 hours in
the fridge, and then it got the funk. Forget freezing. The
lactation consultant told me that I had the option of scalding it
on the stove before storing it so as to de-activate the lipase.
Of course, then you are de-activating a lot of other beneficial
stuff too... not to mention the pain of having to pump THEN scald
THEN store....! Anyway, that might be the issue with you too.
Try different storage systems or whatever else people here might
suggest, but know that you might be among the rare breed of women
who has the high lipase thing going on.
I was very concerned with how bad my frozen breastmilk tasted
(to me) that I spoke to my pediatrician about it. At first I
thought perhaps my freezer wasn't freezing it well enough (which
was not the case; the doctor said that if the freezer kept my
ice cream hard with no evidence of thawing cycles, it should be
just fine for breastmilk). Then I was worried that storing milk
is a bit like making beer: you'd better have everything
incredibly sterilized or it goes bad. In fact, there was
something to this when I did a series of experiments. First, I
made sure I always put the pump horns and the bottles and caps
through the sterile dishwasher cycle or boiled them prior to
every use (I had several sets of horns for this purpose).
Second, I made sure that if I was going to freeze milk I froze
it immediately. I found that some of the sour (but apparently
not spoiled) taste came from sitting in the refrigerator for a
day or two before freezing and that it tasted better if I froze
it right away. When I did these two things religiously, I found
that the frozen (and even refrigerated) milk had a less sour
taste to it. However, in tasting the milk I found that it
always acquired a ''slightly off'' (yes, ''gross'') taste after it
spent more than about 6 hours in the 'frig, and freezing always
made the milk taste strange to me. In my case, however, I
didn't do these ''experiments'' until I'd already been feeding my
son pumped breastmilk for several months (we started doing
frozen breastmilk when he was 2 months old). He never seemed to
mind ! And he never became ill. [I did throw away the older
frozen breastmilk for which I had not put the bottles through
the dishwasher or boiled them first to be safe, though.] So, I
believe (and our pediatrician concurred in my case) that you can
minimize the different taste by making sure everything is
sterile before storage and by freezing right away but that
storage and freezing necessarily impart some changes in taste
and texture. While I did eventually start supplementing with
formula when my son was 8 months old, he still preferred the
strange-tasting frozen milk over strange-tasting formula until
he got used to the formula.
I used the Medela bags to freeze my breastmilk and did not
notice any odor problem. You might consider putting the full
bags in a small box or bowl in the freezer and sprinkling some
baking soda at the bottom, just in case the smell is coming from
something else in the freezer. Liquids can easily take on odors
of nearby foods. The baking soda will help neutralize smells.
As for supplementing, one of the things we were told in
the ''breastfeeding and working'' seminar I attended is that you
lose the benefits of breastmilk when you mix it with formula. If
you plan to supplement, it's best to feed your child whole
bottles of breast milk interspersed with whole bottles of
formula. But mixing the two in the same bottle can kill the
white blood cells that provide much of the benefits breastmilk
affords. But, other than that, there's certainly nothing wrong
with supplementing with formula.
Have you tried thawing the more recently-frozen milk to see if
it is the same way? It may be that you are one of the
unfortunate moms whose milk simply goes bad more quickly than
usual. (The typical recommendation is to use it in 3-6 months.
If the ''gross'' milk is from May, but the milk from August is
okay, you'll know you need to keep within the lower end of that
range.) It could also be that the milk is picking up some
smell/taste from something else in your freezer, in which case
double bagging might help, or removing other things from your
freezer might help. Or it could be that the milk was stored too
close to the sides of the freezer or to the door, and thus was
exposed to too much temperature variation. Keep the milk as
much in the center of the freezer as possible. Also, if you
don't double-bag, keep the bags in a plastic container or bowl
of some sort. It protects the bags from tears and makes them
easier to store in a good position.
It could also be that your son simply doesn't like to use a
bottle or cup, if he hasn't previously used one much, and
nothing at all to do with your milk. If that's the case, try
varying the temperature of the milk, the position in which the
caregiver holds him, and/or the type of nipple/spout.
Are you not able to pump *at* work? Most moms are able to avoid
using frozen milk very much by simply using yesterday's pumped
milk for today's bottles -- breastmilk can be kept in the fridge
for 3 to 8 days.
If you have access to Usenet groups, I recommend
misc.kids.breastfeeding. It's a terrific resource for info and
tips on pumping as well as any and every other question you
might have about breastfeeding.
Good luck with the juggling act!
Holly (pumped daily for 7 months, until DS was over a year old)
Oh, I can relate to your frozen breastmilk tales. The night
before I was returning to work I discovered that my stash of
more than 50 bags of frozen milk smelled foul (similar to
fish). Needless to say, I was devastated. Here are a few tips
-Never freeze milk on the freezer door. It doesn't get as cold
as the back of the freezer.
-Double bag if possible. Breastmilk is very prone to picking
up odors, or at least mine was.
-I found that I couldn't use milk that had been frozen for more
than a couple of weeks. If you freeze in a deep freeze, it's
supposed to last 6 months.
-La Leche League books and website will have better tips on
freezing. Check them out.
-We ended up supplementing 1/2 formula and 1/2 milk pumped from
the previous day. My daughter weaned at almost 8 months
because she loved the bottle so much and I couldn't keep my
production up but she finished the first year on formula and
now enjoys soy milk. She's been very healthy but I would have
gladly continued to breastfeed had she been interested.
Not sure what your gross is but mine was a soapy sour taste.
I did some research and found that my milk has an excess fat
enzyme that has been linked to sour tasting frozen milk. I
tried the recommendation of quickly heating it, bringing it to
the point of just about to boil then chilling immediately and
freezing in medela bags. It's not fun and I don't know how
much nutritional value is left after heating. I went back to
work part-time at 8 months and continued to pump 2 bottles a
day for our daughter until she went on cows milk at 12 months.
She was also a very picky eater and fell off the charts for
weight at 9 months. I'm happy to say that she is 20 months,
incredibly bright, healthy, eats a wide range of foods and
still breastfeeds 2 times a day.
Hi there. I have the same problem, and I've found that there
are many possible reasons and many possible solutions.
I'm sure you'll get a bunch of them here. I found good advice
in the ''Nursing Mother's Companion'' book (the bible!!). Now
I chill the milk in the fridge first and then freeze it, double
bagged, not on the door. Good luck!
Icky milk mommy too
I discovered that I had the excess lipase problem that other
people mentioned after my baby had been refusing to drink
from a bottle for a couple of months and I finally tasted it --
YUK -- like metal! Here' s how I figured out it was an excess
of lipase (an normal enzyme that breaks down the fat, but
some women have excess -- it affects the taste but not the
nutritional quality). My freshly pumped breastmilk tasted
fine. I split a freshly pumped amount of milk into two
portions. I scalded one of the portions and left the other
untreated. For each of these treaments, I further split into
three portions -- one sat on the counter, one went in the
fridge, and one in the freezer (so that I had one scalded and
one unscalded in each storage method -- room temp,
refrigerator, and freezer). It was definately the lipase
problem, because the scalded milk tasted perfectly fine no
matter how it was stored. The unscalded milk tasted awful
(within one hour at room temperature, a few hours in the
fridge, and after being frozen overnight and thawed). Some
people recommend refrigerator storage, but this didn't work
at all for me. I did find that the easiest way to deal with my
problem was to microwave the milk briefly before freezing.
Not to boiling, just until it's hot to the touch. This is effectively
the same treament as stovetop scalding, but a lot more
convenient. For my very wimpy microwave, this was about 1
min. for 4 oz. of breastmilk. I know that ''do not microwave
breastmilk'' is a mantra out there because you will damage
or destroy the beneficial antibodies. However, in this
situation, the purpose is exactly to heat-inactivate the lipase
enzyme (too bad we can't selectively inactivate only some
enzymes). In any case, scalded breastmilk still retains all
the wonderful nutritional qualities even if some of the
immunological benefits are diminished, and it's better than
having baby refuse to drink the breastmilk at all.
Just thought of something that might be going on with your milk:
do you have a nice, modern, self-defrosting freezer? If so, keep
your breastmilk at least an inch from the sides, back, and door of
the freezer, or it could defrost and refreeze everytime the
freezer goes through a defrosting cycle (which I think is pretty
It's been nine years since I did this, but I was told (by the
nurses at the hospital) to only save breast milk for two weeks so
I never had any milk in the freezer older than that. I'd put the
new bottles in the back and use the oldest first. That could be
the reason it doesn't taste so good.
Also, I stored it in glass bottles which made it easy to heat up.
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