How to scald breastmilk: a step-by-step guide with images

Rachel Lim, who is a breastfeeding mum here in Singapore, shares her expert advice with clear instructions and images.

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Giving our babies our breastmilk is one of the very best gifts of health we can give them, right from the moment they are born. But what happens when a mum needs to head back to work, or cannot directly latch for various reasons? Luckily, breastmilk can be expressed and stored, so baby still gets its benefits. 

Some mums who store their milk, however, sometimes find that the defrosted milk gives off a strong, almost fishy or soapy smell. 

There is a solution to this, and it involves scalding your breastmilk before you store it. But what is this process and how to scald breastmilk correctly?

One breastfeeding mum in Singapore – Rachel Lim – has very kindly agreed to share step-by-step instructions on how to scald breastmilk, along with photos illustrating the process. 

Before we tell you how to scald breastmilk based on Rachel's instructions, let's first find out what causes some mums' breastmilk to give off that strong smell in the first place. 

Why Does Stored Breastmilk Smell Funny, Sometimes? 

According to Kellymom.com, the theory behind this odd smell in some mums' stored breastmilk is that it is caused by too much of the enzyme lipase present in their milk.

This lipase starts to break down milk fats soon after the breastmilk is expressed, and it is this change in composition that causes the milk to smell or taste funny once defrosted. 

You should know, however, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the enzyme lipase being present in breastmilk. Here are some of its functions, as described on Kellymom.com: 

  • Helps keep milk fat well-mixed (emulsified) with the “whey” portion of the milk. 
  • Keeps fat globules small so that they are easily digestible.
  • Helps break down fats in the milk. This means that fat-soluble nutrients (e.g. vitamins A & D, and free fatty acids which help to protect baby from illness) are easily available to baby.
  • The primary lipase in human milk, bile salt-stimulated lipase (BSSL), “has been found to be the major factor inactivating protozoans (Lawrence & Lawrence, p. 203)," quotes KellyMom

Scalding breastmilk is a process that can help inactivate this excess lipase.

How to Scald Breastmilk: A step-by-step Guide for Mums

Here are Rachel's instructions and images. Keep in mind that scalding should be done soon after expressing. 

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Step One: Prepping

I bought a mini kettle specially for scalding breastmilk. In comparison to using a regular pot, using this kettle ensures that you do not contaminate the milk. Also the spout makes it easy to pour out the milk later on. I usually sterilise the kettle with hot water first before pouring my milk in. Also have an ice bath ready to set the kettle in after scalding your milk.

Step Two: Scald the Milk

Set the milk on the stove on low heat and watch very closely. Do not step away as it heats up very fast. (I use a gas stove.)

Turn off the fire immediately when you see small bubbles forming at the side. Do not let the milk boil. The volume of milk in this picture is about 370ml and it took about three minutes to heat.

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Tip: I usually prepare my ice bath while my milk is heating up to save time, but I'd strongly recommend you to prep that beforehand if this is your first time. You won't want your milk to boil while you're not watching.

Step Three: Cool the Milk

Cool the milk immediately in an ice bath.

Tip: You can wash and pack up while the milk cools down to save time.

Step Four: Measure Milk for Storing

I personally like to measure my milk in a bottle before storing in milk bags because the markings in the milk bags are not accurate at all. Also, some milk (~5-8ml) might evaporate from the scalding process.

Step Five: All Ready To Be Stored

No more smelly milk!

Note: LLLI/Kellymom does not recommend that you give your baby only scalded milk, as scalding will destroy some nutrients and anti-infective properties. Try to latch when you're home and give fresh breastmilk whenever possible.

theAsianparent would like to thank Rachel Lim for her valuable contribution that is sure to help many breastfeeding mums. 

Reference: Kellymom.com