Why Does My Breast Milk Taste Salty – (What You Need to Know)

Is your breast milk salty and you wonder why does my breast milk taste salty? Here is the answer that you seek. Salty breast milk is caused by lots of factors, but the good news is that it’s reversible. The salty taste can be changed back to normal.

Salty breast milk is caused majorly by the increase in sodium and chloride content in breast milk. This situation can be a result of either clogged ducts, mastitis, hormonal changes, exercises, or even pregnancy.

Breast milk is produced by mammary glands in every woman’s breast and it contains fat, protein, carbohydrates (lactose and human milk oligosaccharides), and various minerals and vitamins that a newborn baby needs to survive.

It also contains essential factors that protect the infant from infection and inflammation, and contribute to the immune system. It contains just the right amount of nutrients for a baby’s growth and development, and also plays a role in handling the baby’s developing stomach, intestines, and other body systems.

With this known, it’s very much understandable if you worry about your salty breast milk.

Now that you’ve known why you have salty breast milk, the next likely question will be, “Is it normal?”

In this article, you are going to get answers to your questions ranging from whether salty breast milk is normal to things that can affect the taste of breast milk.

READ ALSO: How to Travel With Breast Milk By Car


Salty Breast Milk – Is It Normal?

Salty breast milk isn’t normal.

Naturally, breast milk isn’t salty rather it has a sweet milky taste. Some describe the taste as sweet almond milk.

The saltiness of breast milk is caused by several factors which include mastitis and hormonal imbalance. But you must note that having salty breast milk does not stop you from breastfeeding your baby especially if it isn’t caused by breast infection or medication.

What you should be worried about is your baby’s willingness to continue taking it because most times, they reject the breast milk once they notice the salty taste.

If you have salty breast milk, don’t relax. Visit your medical practitioner to find out what exactly is the cause, and how to return the taste of your breast milk to normal.


What Causes Milk to Taste Salty?

As stated earlier, breast milk can become salty for diverse reasons. But before you go further, understand that there’s a solution to this challenge. All you need to do is to visit trained medical personnel for examination once you notice the saltiness.

Below are the various causes of salty breast milk among women:

1. Clogged Ducts

A clogged duct is a blockage of milk flow in a portion of the breast, either at the nipple or in the ductal system.

This occurs when there is poor drainage in a breast’s milk duct. Sometimes during breastfeeding, you may notice a small lump on your breast that may be red or irritated and hurts when you touch it.

This lump may be the result of a clogged milk duct, which can happen if your breast isn’t completely emptied after a feed, if your baby skips a feed, or if you’re under stress or wearing clothes or bras that are too tight.

If the breast stays fuller for a long time, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria which end up causing the breast milk to have a salty taste.

You must note that if this situation does not get resolved, it will lead to a more serious issue in the breast such as mastitis.

2. Mastitis

This is a rampant breast infection among breastfeeding mothers. This happens when bacteria from the baby’s mouth penetrate the milk duct through any minute crack in the nipple.

This causes inflammation of the infected breast and most times, the breast gives out a red coloration. When this happens, the breast milk of the infected breast becomes salty.

3. Pregnancy

Pregnancy has also been linked with salty breast milk. When you get into your first trimester, your breast milk starts to turn into colostrum which is the type of early breast milk women start to produce when their pregnancy is about 20 weeks and it’s the first milk that comes out after birth.

Colostrum is a thick, sticky, yellowish liquid. It is developed because your body is preparing for the new baby’s arrival and it has a salty taste as a result of increased sodium content.

4. Exercise

Heavy exercise can also make your breast milk salty. During and after exercise, the body amasses lactic acid which can give breast milk a salty taste.

This is the reason why a breastfeeding mum is advised to do low-key exercises. Your sweat and perspiration which is also salty can get to your baby’s mouth causing fuzziness.

For this reason, it’s advised that you always clean the breast with a towel during or after exercise before feeding your baby.

5. Weaning

When babies no longer feed on only breast milk as they used to, this reduces the rate at which the milk in the breast gets emptied and it isn’t entirely good for the breast. It gives the breast milk a salty taste.

Due to this situation, the breast milk clogs at a place causing what is called stasis. This stasis further causes a spike in sodium and chlorine levels which gives the milk a salty taste.

READ ALSO: How to Increase Breast Milk Supply


What Does Breast Milk Taste Like?

It is frequently compared to sweet almond milk. Some describe it as sweet and creamy with a nutty flavor similar to dairy milk.

The taste of breast milk is complex to describe as it changes depending on the type of food that the mother eats. Breast milk may also have a salty or soapy flavor if a breastfeeding mother eats carrots, but on a normal day, breast milk is perceived to be sweet and creamy, and a lot similar to cow’s milk.

Although, not everyone accepts this interpretation. And so, the taste of breast milk can only be well described by the taster. The taste of breast milk depends on one’s genetics and the kind of food taken. Hence, breast milk taste might differ from person to person.

Well-nourished breast milk should not taste bad. Breast milk is generally said to be creamy and sweet and have a good flavor, but several factors can affect the taste of your breast milk.


Why Does Breast Milk Taste Sweet?

Breast milk is a living fluid, providing a diverse array of bioactive substances to the developing infant during critical periods of the brain, immune, and digestive system development. It can adapt to the needs of the growing baby; it changes throughout lactation and consists of exactly the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats at the right time, adapting itself to the changing needs of growing babies.

Normal breast milk gives a sweet taste because it contains a sugar called lactose. Lactose is essential for brain development, calcium absorption, and healthy gut bacteria.

It is composed of 87% water, so your baby needs only breast milk to meet his fluid needs. The remaining 13% is made of fats, sugars, proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and many other components.

It contains other multipurpose molecules like oligosaccharides, and sugars which promote the maturing of organs (the brain in particular) and prevent pathogenic germs from growing in the baby’s gut. Lactose (milk sugar), the main carbohydrate in breast milk, is distinctly higher than in cow’s milk, making it very sweet, and providing the energy required for rapidly growing brains and the growth of the babies’ nervous system.
Breast milk also contains a lot of fat, which gives it a creamy consistency.


What Gives Breast Milk Its Taste?

Breast milk contains the milk sugar lactose and that is what gives it its taste.

Lactose is one of the main ingredients in breast milk, it appears in high concentrations, giving breast milk its sweet taste and flavor.

READ ALSO: How to Fly With Frozen Breast Milk


Things that Can Affect the Taste of Breast Milk

A change in the taste of your breast milk for any of these reasons mentioned below may affect your child. Some babies may not notice or mind the variations of taste while other children will and may go on a nursing strike, or even appear to be self-weaning.

By reading and understanding some of these things that can change the taste and flavor of your breast milk, you might be able to avoid making your baby go into a self-weaning mood. Some of these factors include:

1. Smoking

Smoking when breastfeeding could affect the taste of breast milk. The change in the taste might affect sensitive babies, affecting the level at which they consume breast milk.

Smoking can reduce the volume of the milk as it hinders the release of prolactin and oxytocin in the body.

Prolactin is a hormone required for the growth of breasts and the production of milk and oxytocin is required for the ejection of milk from the breast.

It also helps to stimulate the release of adrenaline which obstructs the release of oxytocin, and the fumes of Nicotine hinders the growth and development of babies.

This is why pregnant women and nursing mothers are advised to avoid smoking totally because of how dangerous it is to their health and that of their babies.

2. Hormonal changes

The change in hormones can alter the taste of breast milk temporarily. For instance, around ovulation, the sodium and chloride in breast milk increase, and the amount of lactose and potassium reduces, making the milk saltier.

The shifts in the levels of hormones in your body from the return of your period or a new pregnancy may influence the taste of your breast milk.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol consumption among breastfeeding women is one of the major causes of health impairment in babies because it passes through to them via breast milk. It distorts breast milk’s taste and might cause sensitive babies to stop feeding temporarily. Drinking alcohol is known to affect the taste of breast milk.

After consuming alcohol, it takes as long as two hours to evacuate your body system; your breast milk inclusive. And so, it is advised that you wait long after the intake of alcohol before breastfeeding your baby.

4. Exercise

Heavy exercise helps in the building-up of lactic acid in your body along with the saltiness of perspiration on your breasts, and can change the taste of your breast milk. To minimize the effect on your breast milk, go for a low-key exercise at a light or moderate level.

Ensure you wash your breasts and nipples thoroughly before feeding your baby to avoid giving them the salty sweat on the breast or nipples.

5. Medications

Certain medicines can dissolve in breast milk, changing the taste, volume, or color of the milk. Once you begin to take any drug and notice that the rate at which your baby consumes breast milk reduces, quickly meet with your doctor for a change because you might be harming your baby if you continue with it.

6. Mastitis

This is a health condition commonly found among breastfeeding mothers. Mastitis is a breast infection that gives breast milk a salty taste. If you are diagnosed with mastitis as a breastfeeding mother, you need not be scared. Continue to breastfeed your baby as stoppage might worsen the situation. Then, consult your doctor for immediate treatment.

7. Freezing

When you defrost breast milk that has been collected and stored in the freezer, it will sometimes have a soapy odor or taste. It’s still safe to give to your child, but he/she may not like the change in taste.

8. Improper breast milk storage

When you fail to store breast milk the way it should be stored, it develops a metallic or fishy taste.

This change signifies that breast milk has gone bad and isn’t good enough for consumption. Breast milk’s taste could also change when frozen but this does not make it unfit for consumption.

The change in taste is due to the presence of lipase, an enzyme in breast milk that breaks down fat into fatty acids.

READ ALSO: What Happens If Baby Drinks Spoiled Breast Milk


CONCLUSION: On Why Does My Breast Milk Taste Salty

Once you notice the change in your breast milk, keep breastfeeding your baby. Don’t be scared, the infection can not pass to your baby through the milk. If your baby starts to reject your breast, express the milk.

The next good step to take is visiting well-trained health personnel who will look into it and give you medications or guidelines on what to do.