Fresh Versus Frozen: The Taste of Thawed Breast Milk

Frozen thawed milk tastes different from fresh. How do I know? Because I was basically dared by my mother-in-law (MIL) to try my own breast milk (yes…). At the time, my baby was about 3 months of age and wasn’t taking breast milk well from the bottle. My MIL suggested it was the taste of the thawed breast milk, as her friend said her grandchildren had the same issue because the thawed breast milk did not taste good. I knew breast milk usually tasted slightly sweet because of the lactose content, but I didn’t really believe my MIL that there could be such a vast difference in taste between fresh and frozen to affect baby’s intake. Especially since I had learned as a dietitian that a baby doesn’t usually develop a strong taste preference until after 6 months of age. Before then it was often possible to get a baby established onto a more bitter tasting hydrolyzed formula even if the baby had been used to the sweet taste of breast milk. And after all, if the expressed breast milk had been quickly frozen, wouldn’t that slow down the lipase enzymatic action on the fats within the breast milk and so prevent the breast milk from going ‘off’ in taste? Well, my MIL then implied that if I didn’t believe her I should taste the breast milk myself. So I did. In front of her.

And okay… there IS a difference. Fresh breast milk tastes…fresh…a bit like cow’s milk but lighter, more watery and with a slightly sweet taste. The thawed breast milk tasted more bitter and metallic. I found it had to be heated more in temperature to make it more palatable tasting.

My little one still took the thawed frozen breast milk (sometimes with a bit of cajoling and distraction with a toy) from a bottle until about 4-5 months of age, then after that she seemed to get wise to the fact that it really didn’t taste very good, and so refused more adamantly to take it (even when she was really hungry). She would always drink fresh pumped breast milk though!

What I have found I needed to do was this: Give the frozen breast milk as soon as it has thawed. This means really within the first hour or two after it has been thawed out in the fridge. Doing so will keep the thawed frozen breast milk tasting as close as possible to freshly pumped milk. Any more than that, and the bitter, metallic and soapy taste starts to appear, especially the longer it sits (mainly because of the active components within the breast milk like the lipases which start to break down the fat within the milk).

Note that even if there are some taste changes in the thawed breast milk, you can still use it in the baby’s food, assuming the baby is eating at least a few tablespoons’ worth of solids in a sitting. This gets easier to do as baby gets bigger and eats more at a time. So don’t toss all your hard work of pumping away!

 

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When Can I Give Baby Kimchi?

For those from a western background who are unfamiliar with this, Kimchi is a preserved vegetable dish eaten commonly in Korean cultures. In general there is no strict rule in terms of when you can give baby kimchi. In some cultures that use a lot of spices in cooking, babies are often already exposed to hints of some of these flavors and spices through the breast milk, and grow up accustomed to spices earlier on during the complementary feeding stages. However, here are some basic guidelines:

You may want to wait till baby is at least 8-9 months of age, and a bit more established on solids and textures, and when his or her digestive system is also more developed. Try very small amounts of the kimchi mixed into other foods to make sure baby tolerates the spiciness and the preserved vegetable well first without any digestive problems like excessive gas or tummy aches. You may want to grind or blend it down at first, as baby may not have teeth yet and may not be able to handle a tougher texture. As you try small amounts over a few days, you can slowly increase the amounts given so that baby can get used to the taste and texture more as your baby ages. The general guideline is to try small amounts of a new food one at a time for a few days before moving onto introducing the next food. Kimchi can be prepared a few different ways, so avoid giving your baby any kimchi that has been preserved using a lot of salt.

It seems that by 8-9 months of age, babies in general are more ready to try, and may even prefer, more flavored foods. So for those of you who don’t want to give kimchi but want to try other spices, starting at this time you can slowly begin to introduce more spices and salt-free flavorings to your baby’s food. My little one then didn’t even flinch when I gave her houmous spiced with cayenne pepper! So bring on basil, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, tarragon, paprika, dill, mint and other herbs and spices! Of course, you may want to try to still introduce one spice or herb at a time to your baby’s repertoire to watch for any possible signs and symptoms of allergic reactions.

What You SHOULDN’T Expect From Breastfeeding

I was debating whether to put this under the ‘Milk Milk Milk’ section or under the ‘You and Your Body’ section, but finally decided on the latter. This has much more to do with protecting your body from the possible long term effects of breastfeeding than on milk production. Read on ladies!

Prolapsed Nipples.
Yep, that’s right. Prolapsed nipples. Over time, the nipples naturally change in shape slightly to adapt to continued breastfeeding. However, you don’t want your nipples to change in shape more than they have to. So ladies, always make a conscious effort to keep baby’s mouth on par with the nipple level when feeding and ensure a good latch. It’s so easy to forget this (especially when you’re tired, and it’s another night feeding), but doing so will prevent baby from pulling on the nipple and cause the nipple to gradually sag or droop a little over time due to the pressure from baby’s mouth and weight of baby’s body. Baby will get increasingly heavier too, so make baby adjust to you, not the other way around!

Lower Back Pain.
It’s very easy to get lower back pain from sitting prolonged periods in certain breastfeeding positions trying to breastfeed baby, and doing this multiple times a day. So it’s very important to get a good breastfeeding pillow and a comfy breastfeeding chair with pillows to support your back. And of course, elevate, elevate! Bring baby to your breast level and don’t try to bend over to meet baby’s mouth instead. If you need to, you can use another pillow on top of a breastfeeding pillow to support baby’s body and head. This will help bring baby up more to ‘breast-level’ while feeding. This will help your posture too. Also, keep stretching! A daily simple stretch routine (5-10 minutes) can really keep backaches from getting worse and soothe those strained lower back muscles at the end of the day!

Becoming a Hunchback of Notre-Dame (or Godzilla…).
When my baby turned 9 months old, I happened to look in the mirror and was horrified that I had turned into a kind of ‘Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ with my shoulders hunched over and my shoulder blades sticking out. Either that or I had become like Godzilla with the stooping small rounded shoulders. I had unknowingly let my posture go to the wayside over all these months because of my focus on taking care of baby. Of course breastfeeding made matters worse, because often in my efforts to maintain a good latch while baby breastfed, I wasn’t sitting straight with a good posture. Even my husband noticed (and he doesn’t even usually notice when I have a haircut)! So when breastfeeding, get yourself into a comfortable position first before latching baby on, and try to keep sitting tall and straight. If you find yourself hunching over or in an uncomfortable position, then detach baby and re-latch baby on, or try a different breastfeeding position. And as you go throughout your day, remember what your mother told you all along, “Stand up tall and straight, and keep your shoulders back!” Or like in the film Miss Congeniality, Sandra Bullocks was told by the beauty pageant consultant to, “Keep your chin parallel to the floor!”

A New Breastfeeding Position: the “Bear Hug”

You’ve already heard or may have tried these common breastfeeding positions: Cross-Cradle Hold, Cradle Hold, Football Hold and Side-Lying Hold. I’ve tried all of them. But I ended up having to invent a new position basically out of necessity. I call this the “Frontal Hold” (or more affectionately known as the “Bear Hug”) position.

Why? First, I found I was getting milk lumps more easily on the right side from the traditional cradle hold, though the football hold position did help some. I also got tired of backaches from slouching and hunching over with the cross cradle and other positions. The side-lying position didn’t work as well for baby and I. Lastly, I was going to travel back to the States when baby was 4 months old, so needed a breastfeeding position that would work in the cramped quarters of an airplane seat using a breastfeeding cape.

Here’s how to do it (works best with the Brest Friend breastfeeding pillow):

  1. Sit up tall and straight, making sure you are comfortable with pillows behind you if needed.
  2. Put baby facing you between you and the breastfeeding pillow.
  3. Adjust baby’s legs so that they straddle around your waist.
  4. Use one hand to support baby’s head and neck (make sure baby’s back is straight) at a slight angle with baby’s mouth on par or level with nipple.
  5. Your other hand can be on the breast you are offering, when you bring baby’s head and mouth towards the nipple.

To help ensure a good latch, make sure the nipple goes far into the back of the baby’s mouth. Once latched on, baby should be able to suck comfortably this way. However, make sure to burp baby well in between or afterwards, as I have found that my baby often takes in a bit more air this way as a result.

If you are using the Brest Friend breastfeeding pillow, you can clip the two parts of the pillow together and pull the belt tight enough, so that the pillow holds the baby more snugly to your body. You can also angle or tilt the pillow so it supports the baby’s back better.

I started to use this new position when my baby was 3-4 months of age. This position became easier as baby started to sit up better unsupported, and as the football position got more difficult (baby’s body was longer and needed more pillows to support her body on the chair’s armrest). It came in so handy on the airplane too and prevented a lot of lower backaches! I still switch around positions during a breastfeeding session, but have used this “bear hug” position regularly for many months. I’ll have to stop using this breastfeeding position soon though, as she’s finally getting too big and sitting ‘too tall’ to latch and feed properly!