What is the Natural Breast Milk Smell? Find Out Here!

Have you ever been worried on how your breast milk smell like? Does it sometimes smell a bit ‘off’ and you cannot pinpoint just what is wrong with it? Well, if that’s the case, do not worry as many mothers tend to be perturbed by the smell and even the appearance of their own breastmilk.

There are several factors that could impact your breastmilk, particularly the smell or appearance. To reassure you that there is nothing to worry about, allow me to discuss these smell-altering factors and what you can do to manage them.


Discovering the Natural Smell of Breastmilk and What Could Alter It

mother feeding a baby

Firstly, let me congratulate you for having a good supply of breastmilk. The truth is - some mothers even experience low supply of milk to even notice the smell or appearance of the breastmilk. If you are one of those with abundant supply of milk, it is important to know how to keep it in top quality.

Factors that Can Impact the Smell of Breast milk

Contrary to what most mommies expect, breastmilk does not possess the sweet smell. It has a distinct smell that is often caused by factors and activities of the mothers. Let’s take a look at them closely:

The Food You Eat Can Alter the Smell of the Breast milk

Young mom cooking in the kitchen

While you are breastfeeding, know that the food you take can impact the smell as well as the taste of your breast milk. Babies , who are dependent on breastmilk, tend to experience variety of flavors in their daily feeding. The smell and the flavor of the breast milk slightly changes depending on the food you eat.

Considering the same principle, there have been certain studies pointing out that for moms who eat a good amount of fish such as mackerel and salmon could pass the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids to their little babies.

In a book penned by Dianne Fresquez entitled A Taste of Molecules: In Search of the Secrets of Flavor, she emphasized how the smell and flavor of the breast milk were tainted by licorice, banana, mint and caraway when a few mothers consumed them while breastfeeding.

In the study she conducted, the licorice and caraway flavors in the breast milk were at their peak two hours after the said food were consumed. While the mint flavor did not peak, it remained in the breastmilk for a solid eight hours. As for the banana, the flavor was immediately transferred after consumption.

As the study was focused at a molecular level, it proves that the smell and flavor of breastmilk can certainly be altered. So, it should serve as a reminder for mommies to be mindful of what they eat as the flavor and smell of the breast milk are likely to be altered.

Smoking and Drinking Alcohol Can Have Leave Breastmilk Smelling Bad

In a study reviewed by Mary Beth Flanders-Stephan, it has been found that both alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking could alter the odor of the breast milk. The study was backed up by two separate research conducted by Meanella and Beuchamp in 1991 and in 1998.

In the said studies, the odor of ethanol and nicotine peaked roughly about 30-60 minutes after the mother has ingested alcohol or smoked a cigarette. The studies also pointed out that the changes in odor are dependent on the concentration of ethanol and nicotine that have been passed to the breast milk.

Aside from the fact that smoking and binge-drinking are both detrimental to the health of the mothers, the studies also offer the good reason for them to stop the habit, especially when opting to breastfeed their babies.

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Storing Techniques Can Be a Factor Too

How you store your breast milk could also have an effect on the taste, smell, and overall appearance of your breast milk. Note that breastmilk is rich in antibodies that can protect and strengthen your baby’s immune system. With the presence of immensely important components, the storage techniques are deemed critical.

Following milk storage guideline is essential to retain the freshness and reduce the chances of producing odd smell. For freshly expressed milk, it can be placed in proper storage bottles and stored for 4 hours at room temperature, 24 hours in cooler with ice packs (around 59 degrees F), one week inside the refrigerator (32-39 degrees F), and a full six months in deep freezers of 0 degrees F.

The Enzyme Called Lipase Can Alter the Odor As Well

Another factor that causes odd odor on breastmilk is the enzyme called lipase. The change in odor usually happens when breastmilk is frozen. Upon thawing the milk for consumption, the milk would smell unpleasant or soapy. While this is safe for consumption, there are infants who may refuse to drink it.

One recommended way to check if your breast milk would turn foul-smelling is by doing a test before freezing an entire batch. Do this by collecting about 1-2 containers of breastmilk. Freeze it for about 5-7 days. Then see for yourself if the odor drastically changes. And the ultimate tester – your baby! Have your baby taste it and see if she or he will drink it.

If yours tend to turn sour or odd-smelling then you can opt for other ways of collecting or storing it. Note that no two breastmilk are alike, so never compare yours with your friends. You would just end up frustrated and worried.

Let Me Wrap Up with These Pointers

Young woman breastfeeding her little baby

Now that you know all the factors that could impact your breast milk’s smell and appearance, you just have to extra careful with what you consume and alter your habits if needed. In addition, you can take note of the following when storing the milk for a longer period of time:

  • Make sure you use storage containers especially designed for breastmilk storage
  • Follow the right storage temperature
  • See to it that the containers are sealed

That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed this post. Keep your comments and questions coming. Thank you again for the support. Oh yeah, don’t forget to share this with your fellow mommies too.

Lily Hayes

Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Lily Hayes. I am a strong-willed woman who believes that motherhood is the greatest experience in this world. More...

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