Have you ever wondered what breast milk tastes like?
Have you ever tasted your own breast milk? Or sampled the breast milk stash in the fridge?
What does breast milk taste like? Here is some interesting information to answer that question, and others.
What does breast milk taste like?
When people ask ‘What does breast milk taste like?’ it’s usually described as being like sweet almond milk.
Some say it’s sweet and creamy – similar to dairy milk but with a more nutty flavor.
Breast milk can have different flavors, depending on quite a few factors.
Read on to find out what can influence the flavor of your breast milk.
Is human breast milk sweet or salty?
The make up and consistency of breast milk changes over time and this affects the flavor.
A breastfeeding mother’s diet can also change how her breast milk tastes. Generally speaking though, in comparison with cow’s milk, human breast milk tastes sweet. Although both contain the milk sugar lactose, the high concentrations in human milk contribute to the sweet flavor.
Colostrum is an infant’s first milk, which the breasts produce before birth and for several days afterwards. It is high in proteins, sodium and immunoglobulins and lower in lactose, fats and glucose. For this reason, colostrum is slightly salty in comparison with mature milk.
The flavor is similar to breast milk that’s produced when a mother has a breast infection called mastitis; this can make breast milk salty.
These are the times when your babies or young children needs all the immunological protective factors they can get.
Here are some answers that people provided when asked the question, ‘What does breast milk taste like?’
- Sweet almond milk (the most popular description)
- Condensed milk
- Ice cream.
Can breast milk taste sour?
Breast milk can taste completely different when it is fresh from the source. For some breastfeeding mothers, however, things can turn sour very quickly.
Human milk that has actually soured will have a distinctly sour taste and smell, like sour cow’s milk. If you are a mother who is expressing and storing milk, there are several reasons why your breast milk smells or tastes sour.
Firstly, it’s extremely important to make sure you clean your breast pump parts effectively. Not cleaning your pump parts properly can cause your milk to become contaminated, which can make your milk taste bad.
How you store your milk can also play a part. Polypropylene or pyrex containers are recommended, rather than plastic storage bags. That way, your precious milk is less likely to lose any of its nutritional components or be subjected to leaching from plastics.
For some great information about expressing and storing your breast milk, read our article Breast Milk Storage | 14 Important Facts And Tips.
Why doesn’t my baby like the taste of my breast milk?
If you have been expressing and storing breast milk, lipase activity can cause a change in the flavor. This can happen within hours of expressing or storing your milk in the fridge or freezer.
Does your previously expressed breast milk smell sour, soapy or fishy? Has your baby been refusing to drink it? This could be due to high lipase in your milk. Rest assured that this milk is still completely safe to feed to your baby. Once you identify the problem, there are steps you can take to prevent lipase activity from altering the smell or flavor of your milk.
How to scald your breast milk:
- Put your breast milk into a clean pot over the stove, straight after expressing, and heat it gently until tiny bubbles form around the edge. If you have a way to measure the temperature, warm it to 72C for 2 minutes straight.
Note: Don’t take it to boiling point, as this will damage the important immunological factors in your milk. And, whatever you do, don’t put your milk in the microwave
- Immediately put your milk into a container of ice and cold water and store it in the fridge, to use within a day or two. Alternatively, you can put it straight into the freezer.
Try not to be concerned if you need to scald your breast milk. It’s still going to be super amazing for your baby.
Does maternal diet affect breast milk’s flavor?
What does breast milk taste like if you eat different types of food?
Strong flavors like garlic, onion and seafood can be carried through to breast milk, altering the flavor. Even so, there are no particular foods that breastfeeding mothers should avoid in terms of how their breast milk tastes.
Research has shown breastfed babies enjoy a wider variety of foods than formula fed babies and have a lower risk of obesity and other metabolic diseases in later life.
What else can make breast milk taste different?
Sometimes certain medications, such as antibiotics, can change the taste of breast milk. This does not mean lactating mothers need to ‘pump and dump’ if they’re taking medication.
The Medicines Information Centre can help you determine whether any medication you’re taking will affect your breast milk.
Other factors that can change the flavor of mother’s milk aren’t always internally influenced.
Exercise can cause you to sweat, which means your breastfeeding baby will pick up a salty flavor from your skin. Lactic acid can build up in breast milk after intense exercise; this could also change the flavor. There’s no evidence to suggest lactic acid is harmful to breastfeeding babies.
Fragrance is also another reason why the taste of breast milk might change. Using perfumes, creams or body lotions can alter the taste and smell of breast milk and some babies can even refuse to feed. This is easy to fix; just avoid using these products on your body.
What does breast milk taste like during pregnancy?
A pregnant mother starts to produce colostrum at about 16 weeks.
This first milk is all your baby needs in the first days after birth. It’s high in sodium, antibodies and protein, which makes it less sweet than mature breast milk.
Breast milk from mothers who birth their babies prematurely has different properties, compared with milk from mothers who birth full term. This helps protect preterm babies, as they are much more vulnerable, especially if they’re NOT breastfed.
If you become pregnant while you’re still feeding an older child, your breast milk will become more like colostrum later in pregnancy. This changes the taste from sweet to salty.
Some children don’t mind; others will refuse to feed, or might wean because of the change in flavor. This can be a really difficult time for a mother who wishes to tandem feed both her babies. If this happens reach to a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant for support.
Older breastfed babies who continue to feed will get an extra boost of immunity protecting colostrum throughout the pregnancy. They’ll also be rewarded with an extra full tummy when their sibling is born and the milk comes in.
Is breast milk healthy for adults?
Most people now understand the undeniable benefits of breastfeeding and human milk for human babies.
It has amazing properties, such as stem cells and immune cells, as well as offering complete nutrition, which changes as the baby grows. Your breast milk is so complex it has the ability to detect pathogens in your baby’s saliva and will create antibodies to combat illnesses and infections.
For adults, though, breast milk doesn’t have the benefits they can’t get from a normal healthy diet. In fact, if breast milk is used to replace a well-balanced adult diet it could be harmful.
It seems to be trendy for bodybuilders to buy breast milk on the black market, for their own health benefits. Although drinking breast milk might seem like a quick way to boost the immune system, any bodily fluid can be a pathway for infectious disease. Although you might be curious to taste breast milk or see whether the benefits of breast milk continue into adulthood, research suggests that human breast milk is just perfect for breastfeeding human babies.
Check out our Facebook page, or comment below, if you have any interesting or funny stories about the taste of your own or someone else’s breast milk!