Breast milk has a subtle, specific aroma. To me, it smelled a bit like Werther's Originals candies, and it wasn't always exactly the same — it would shift. I mean, I wasn't examining my breast milk like a perfume wand, but I noticed. (It was squirting out of my boobs, after all.) But why does the smell of your breast milk change? Does it mean anything?
Aroma, along with texture, are the two most easily recognizable changes in breast milk, and two of the most important. Aroma is an essential piece of breastfeeding, according to Nutrition, and the specific fragrance of the milk is very adaptive and malleable in relation, and irrelative from the texture of the milk.
According to the Journal of Pediatric Clinics of North America, as a baby feeds from their mother, some of their saliva makes its back into the mother's breasts via the lactiferous sinus (the main hole that the milk flows from). The mother's body effectively reads the saliva for markers of growth, injury, and illness, and alters the bioactive factors that the breast produces. This will lead to a change in texture and smell of the milk from one feeding to another. If your baby is ill, the milk may have more of a specific antibody or anti-inflammatory agent than when the baby is 100 percent healthy.
Why does the smell of your breast milk change when your baby is healthy? It's an easily influenced nuance in breast milk. Everything from what you eat to how old your baby is will influence the smell, and even the taste of your milk, according to Nutrition.
Researchers at Clinical Nutrition, for instance, found that the aroma of milk changes if specific medicines are administered to breastfeeding moms. The alteration in the aromatic profile was measured by electronic nose, and it found that certain medications reliably affect the smell of the milk. The drug they tested actually made the milk smell of eucalyptus.
In the event that you're concerned your child might one day be lured to vampirism, worry not. If a mother consumes a high amount of garlic, that smell will make it into the milk, according to Metabolites, warding the baby off from any future creature of the night proclivities. (Or your milk just smells like pasta — either way.)
The smell and taste of your milk is the first chemosensory experience your baby has in their life, so it stands to reason that it would change and shift to expose your infant to a wide-range of flavors and smells so that they have a broadened palate going forward, according to the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. Your body is preparing your child for a lifetime of trying new foods while also sending them the nutrients they need at the time. (And you don't even have to get up from the couch to make it.) It's basically the coolest.