Ever asked ‘What does breast milk taste 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 flavour.
Breast milk can have different flavours, depending on quite a few factors.
Read on to find out what can influence the flavour of your breast milk.
Is breast milk sweet or bitter?
The make up and consistency of breast milk change over time, and this affects the flavour.
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 low in lactose, fats and glucose.
Colostrum gives breast milk a less sweet, more salty taste. The flavour is similar to breast milk that’s produced when a mother has a breast infection called mastitis, or when a child starts to wean.
These are the times when your baby or child needs all the immunological protective factors they can get.
Mature breast milk contains lactose – the main form of sugar in human milk; lactose gives it a really sweet flavour, which is very appealing to babies.
A person’s taste is such an individual thing. Check out this list of wonderful descriptions, when people were asked ‘What does breast milk taste like?’
- Sweet almond milk (the most popular description)
- Condensed milk
- Ice cream
Matty, a friend who really loved the different flavours, told me of his experience of tasting breast milk:
“I’d say from my experience it’s almost like almond milk, but it does vary a bit in taste depending on time of day. I found in morning there was a stronger, sweeter taste than, say, late afternoon”.
Once, while breastfeeding, my 3 year old daughter came off the breast and said “Mmmm … blueberries”.
Isn’t it amazing how many different flavours people notice?
Why does breast milk taste sour?
Breast milk can taste completely different when it is fresh from ‘the tap’. For some 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.
There are several reasons why your milk might have a sour taste or smell. The most common is related to your breast pump and storage.
It’s extremely important to make sure you clean your breast pump parts effectively.
Not cleaning your pump properly can cause your milk to become contaminated, which changes the flavour.
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.
Here are some fantastic facts and tips about expressing and storing your breast milk.
Why doesn’t my baby like the taste of my breast milk?
Another reason for your breast milk to taste sour is an enzyme called lipase.
It can cause breast milk to taste or smell sour, soapy or fishy, and some babies might even refuse to drink it.
This can happen within hours after expressing or storing your milk in the fridge or freezer.
Don’t worry, though. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your lovely breast milk and it’s completely safe for your baby to consume.
You can even do something about it.
To help prevent lipase from taking action you can scald your milk (and I don’t mean giving it a stern talking to)
How to scald your breast milk:
- Pop your breast milk in a clean pot over the stove (straight after expressing) and heat 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 those 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. Or 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 breast milk taste like what you eat?
What does breast milk taste like if you eat different types of food?
Fascinatingly, studies involving carrot juice have shown breastfed babies enjoy a wider variety of foods, and they favour foods their mother eats regularly.
If you express your breast milk and you find it tastes or smells sour, the food you’re eating could be the culprit.
You can influence the taste and health of breast milk by avoiding certain foods that have a big influence on its flavour and properties.
Foods to avoid:
- Anchovies (no arguments from me on that one)
- Some nuts (Brazil nuts are known to go rancid quite easily)
- Expired vegetable oils
- Fish oil
- Flaxseed supplements.
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 flavour of mother’s milk aren’t always internally influenced.
Exercise can cause you to sweat, which can give your breastfeeding baby a salty flavour from your skin
Lactic acid can build up in breast milk after intense exercise; this could also change the flavour.
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, 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 when pregnant?
Interestingly, 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.
Amazingly, 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 flavour.
This can be a really difficult time for a mother who wishes to tandem feed both her babies.
It can be really helpful to reach out for support from an IBCLC or breastfeeding counsellor.
Older breastfed babies who continue to feed will get an extra boost of immune 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 complete nutrition that changes as the baby grows.
Your breast milk is so amazing 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 benefits that 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.
Interestingly, breast milk has less protein than milk from other species – such as the humble cow.
It seems to be trendy for bodybuilders to buy breast milk on the black market, for their own health benefits.
This can be a dangerous practice; buying from an unknown source carries huge risks for viruses, bacteria and contamination.
It seems best to leave human breast milk for breastfeeding human babies.
What does breast milk taste like?
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