Monday, January 10, 2011

Thoughts on Spoil't Milk

Today's topic: breast milk! And yes, I've tasted my own, and no, that's not weird (although this sort of is)

I am so sick and tired of throwing yucky tasting breast milk down the drain.

In case you wondered, fresh breast milk tastes quite nice...a reminiscent of cow's milk, for sure. Sweet. Creamy. Clean. It should last in the fridge for up to 7-10 days.

Mine? Well, within 24 hours, there's an undeniable funk. 48 hours, it's starting to get unpleasant. 72 hours, ewww. More than 3 days? Gag. I am fortunate to produce plenty of milk, but unfortunately the milk I produce has excess lipase. This means that it develops a rancid flavor rather quickly. Nutritionally, the milk is fine. It just doesn't taste very good. Lipase remains active when cold, so my milk can't be frozen. Right before returning to work, I discovered that my 80 oz stash of frozen milk had gone bad.

I'm so sick and tired of forcing Jack to drink something that tastes so gross.

Jack will drink the milk up to 72 hours after it's been expressed, but he doesn't like it. I don't blame him -- you would have to pay me quite a bit to drink the stuff at that point. I can hardly tolerate tasting it. I happen to be particularly sensitive to rancid flavors. I'm not sure why... I just know that things taste rancid to me far sooner than they do to Greg, and it's not in my head. I won't buy coffeeshop muffins with walnuts in them for that reason: the walnuts are nearly always rancid and I find them inedible. There's something sort of cute about the fact that Jack and I share a similar sensitivity to certain flavors. There's also something really frustrating about how much milk I have to throw out to appease our mutually picky palettes.

I am just barely able to keep up with what Jack needs during the day. I pump each day for the next day's bottles, and if I run low on Tuesday, I'll get up early and pump in the morning on Wednesday (carefully avoiding nursing Jack on one side after about 2am so that I have milk for him). If I pump early on Wednesday for Wednesday's bottles, then I have to pump early on Thursday and Friday, too. It's a vicious cycle of keeping up with Jack's daytime needs.

Inevitably, Friday rolls along and I know that the milk will be gross by Monday. So I pump over the weekends, too.

Aside from the hassle of the mechanics of pumping -- and really, it is a hassle, whether I'm at work, at home, or, gulp, in the car -- there's also the hassle of messing with my milk supply. On any given day, I produce just enough for Jack to be satiated. When I pump at the wrong time, that's less milk for him. He spends extra time being hungry, which means he nurses more, which means my body's milk production goes up, and, like 24 hours later, I eventually make more milk. But before my body compensates for what I've pumped, Jack wonders where the milk went. It's not terrible. It's just annoying.

Also, I love that my body actually makes just enough milk for Jack... given that my body doesn't tend to do things totally right on its own, especially where reproduction is involved, I wish I didn't have to manipulate that natural balance. It's not just Fridays that cause me to pump extra...snow days, sick days, work-at-the-JCC days and holidays -- they mess with Jack's natural nursing schedule, too. And what about those rare times when I might want to run to the store and leave Jack with Greg? Urgh. Need fresh milk waiting in the fridge for that too.

But pumping must be done, because Jack must go to daycare. I've worked hard to keep up supply: in three months he only needed frozen milk twice, and they were in the two days after I returned from my Arizona trip.

I've tried heat-treating the milk to deactivate the lipase. This pasteurizes the milk and probably denatures many of the antibodies. So I always put off the pasteurization, hoping/thinking I'll be able to cycle through that bottle with something more recently pumped and keep Jack going on all fresh, all the time. But inevitably the schedule goes awry and the milk gets funky and at that point there's no point in freezing it. If I freeze gross tasing milk, it develops an awful, curdled texture... even our daycare provider noticed it and asked me what was up. Even yuckier.

So I throw out milk. So. Much. Milk. So. Much. Pumping.

Technology. I'm grateful to have the ability to give Jack breast milk while I'm work (and I invested in the best pump I could)... but I can't help thinking about how nice it would be not have to pump!


  1. that's so awesome you are still breastfeeding/pumping! i WISH i still was. i was the opposite, pcos got the best of me in that too and i had NO supply what so ever! i wish i was as lucky! i give you a lot of credit for keeping up with the schedule!!

  2. So sorry to hear about your low supply :( That really sucks. I've read a statistic that 1/3 with PCOS get an undersupply, 1/3 get over, and 1/3 get just right. I think I'm on the oversupply side of the equation. I am very grateful to be lucky with enough milk, though it also carries its own irritations -- I still leak constantly, ruin all my clothes, and letdown is so forceful that it invariably causes Jack to choke, pull off, and milk sprays everywhere (great for nursing in public!).

    Anyway, boo to screwy hormones!