What the Heck is High Lipase?

Does your breastfed baby refuse a bottle?

Have you tried countless different nipples, brands, and flow speeds to no avail?

This situation can certainly be confusing. After all, your baby nurses without an issue, so the problem couldn’t possibly be your breastmilk. Or… Could it?

Enter: excess lipase.

Before you panic, I want you to know that you and your baby are FINE. Having high lipase content in your breastmilk is a common issue. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong, and yes, there ARE ways to fix it.

First of all, what even IS lipase?

Lipase is an enzyme naturally found in breast milk that helps your baby break down the fats within your milk and easily digest it.

However, when expressed milk is immediately stored at cool temperatures, it is believed that high levels of lipase can make the fats within your milk break down too quickly. This can cause a change in the smell and taste of your breastmilk that your baby can detect and sometimes- reject.

This explains why some babies nurse without issue but refuse to drink pumped milk, especially milk that has been expressed and frozen prior to offering. Milk containing high lipase is perfectly safe to drink, but some babies simply do not prefer it due to its sometimes sour and unfamiliar taste.

I think I might have high lipase. Now what?

Fortunately, lipase can be inactivated at high temperatures prior to storing your milk in the fridge or freezer. The best way to do this is to scald the milk in a pan on the stovetop or in a bottle warmer, allowing it to reach 180 degrees, then let it completely cool before transferring it to a storage container and freezing.

There are other methods that recommend slightly different variations on how much or little to scald your milk, but the overall premise remains the same. The high heat destroys the bile salt-stimulated lipase, and once cooled at room temperature, your expressed breast milk can then be frozen and will taste more similar to your fresh milk.

Do you have high lipase levels in your breast milk? What are your favorite tips and tricks to get your baby to consume your expressed milk?

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