Foamy Breast Milk – Should I Be Concerned About Bubbles In Breast Milk?

I am well aware that breastfeeding is one of the most challenging parts of motherhood.

One of such breastfeeding concerns is: Are the bubbles in the breastmilk normal?

If you’re worried if it’s safe to give bubbly milk to baby, you’re in the right place! Let’s find out what causes foamy breast milk and how to get rid of those air bubbles.

Foamy Breast Milk - Should I Be Concerned About Bubbles In Breast Milk

Article By Edna Skopljak – Medical Doctor (MD)

Although it is sometimes tricky, breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your little one. It has several benefits, especially for a newborn. It has benefits on mother-baby attachment, the baby’s gut health, and immunity.

Although it’s a beautiful experience, new moms may be facing lots of questions: Is the baby getting enough milk? Are you holding the baby correctly? Is the latch good? Why is my baby still hungry?

Sometimes you may be unable to breastfeed directly (due to any reason) but may still want to give your baby precious breast milk (so-called liquid gold). Then a breast pump is a very convenient and life-saving tool to help you feed your little one.

However, every pumping mom knows that pumping can get confusing and at the beginning you may be wondering how to pump the milk, be concerned about its color or even experience back pain while pumping.

If you are a pumping mom, you may have experienced another common issue: foamy breast milk. Suppose you are a first-time mom or you don’t have enough experience with breast pumps. In that case, you may think about throwing the milk immediately, as you could be worried it will harm your baby.

I remember how concerned I was when I first saw air bubbles in the baby’s bottle full of bubbly milk. And I was wondering if I could give that foamy milk to my baby. Once I read about all the causes, I was shocked by the fact that it could actually be bad for the baby (in some rare cases – but still bad).

Some moms even assume the bubbles are actually soap residue. All that pump rinsing and washing makes you think you haven’t rinsed the soap – and the soap is now in your breast milk?!

In order to rest assured that your baby will not drink soap residue, read all the reasons for the foamy breast milk.

Spoiler alert: in most cases these are not soap bubbles. Here’s what can really cause foamy breast milk.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice.

Why Is My Breast Milk Bubbly When Pumping?

Breast milk foam can occur due to several reasons. Furthermore, it is not that uncommon that you have more than one causes behind the frothy breast milk.

The factors that can make your breast milk foamy can be related either to the milk supply or the breast pump itself.

So, if you see air bubbles in pumped breast milk, you might have an oversupply of breast milk – or you have a fast letdown. If your breasts are very full and your milk supply is higher than usual, or you have a quick, strong flow, the breast milk may “spray” into the bottle or storage bag. This makes your breast milk foamy.

Another reason behind the bubbles in breast milk is a loose pump connection. If the breast pump parts are not connected right, the pumping session may end in frothy milk.

Also, the natural properties and chemical composition of breast milk can make the breast milk foamy. For example, high lipase levels can lead to air bubbles in breast milk.

Last, but not least, poor handling and storing of breast milk may cause fizzy breast milk.

And, as for the soap bubbles, it is highly unlikely that they will cause foamy milk, but on rare occasions they may be the cause.

The causes of the bubbly breast milk are discussed below – read them carefully to prevent unnecessary fuss.

Is It Normal For Breast Milk To Look Foamy

Is It Normal For Breast Milk To Look Foamy?

Although the air bubbles in pumped breast milk occur quite often, they are not something that you would want in your milk. No, the air bubbles in the breast milk bag are not the reason to throw it away – however, be aware that excess air could have negative effects on your little one’s gastrointestinal tract.

Foamy breast milk may lead to stomach pain, and colic and the baby can become gassy.

Foamy milk (although usually normal) is avoidable, and if your breast milk is full of air, you should try to remove it from the storage bags. You should opt for bubble-free breast milk.

What Causes Foaming Breast Milk?

If you are pumping, you will probably sometimes encounter air bubbles in the breast milk. This may make you worried. Is everything alright with this precious liquid you just pumped? Thankfully, air bubbles in pumped breast milk are usually not a sign the milk is bad.

Foamy breast milk can occur due to various reasons1. These may explain why your milk has air in it.

Oversupply And Fast Letdown

If your breasts feel heavy and full, you might experience a forceful flow while pumping2. This, in turn, leads to air bubbles present in your pumped breast milk.

How does it work? When the baby or breast pump latches onto the breast, the body starts expressing breast milk automatically. This process is called the letdown reflex. The letdown rate is quite variable, and it explains why some moms express milk at high speeds, while others have a slower flow. Sometimes, you can experience both.

So, if you are one of those moms having a forceful and fast letdown, your breast milk will flow out fast into the pump to become foamy. Note that this does not affect milk safety – I know that we (moms) worry too much about everything.

Breast Pump Issues

Sometimes, the explanation behind the foamy breast milk is not – in you or your milk. It is sometimes due to technical issues with breast pumps.

If the connections are loose between some components of the pump, especially the suction tube, this will affect the travel of the breast milk to the bottle or storage bag. And – voila! The bubbles form due to the introduction of extra air.


How you store breast milk actually matters, not only for milk safety but also for how well you can manage air bubbles.

You can store the pumped milk in the bottle provided with the pump. Otherwise, you can store it in specialized breast milk bags. Be aware that hard containers like glass or thick plastic may trap excess air. If you use softer containers, you can push the air bubbles out of them and eliminate the excess air. Also, softer containers are probably more convenient for refrigerated breast milk, especially frozen breast milk.

Composition Of The Breast Milk

The breast milk’s chemical composition can make it foamy during pumping. It’s not a big deal, it’s just a natural property of human milk.

Your breast milk is made of protein, carbohydrates, fats, water, and other nutrients. One such protein, lipase, can make your breast milk foamy. The more lipase in the breast milk, the more bubbly breast milk. This is especially seen when combined with a forceful letdown.

Soap Residue

Very rarely, there is soap residue in a bottle or storage bag. However, soap bubbles differ from other air bubbles – once you encounter them, you cannot get rid of them. If you suspect air bubbles in breast milk, throw it away. Better be safe than sorry.

Why Is My Breast Milk Bubbly When Pumping

How Do Breast Milk Bubbles Affect My Baby?

Although generally not dangerous, breast milk bubbles will probably affect your little one’s gastrointestinal tract.

Excess air in the milk will make them bloated and gassy. They may present with high-pitched cries due to tummy pain (or discomfort), and they may spit out a lot. Also, your baby may have frequent, frothy poop – foamy breast milk poop. And – yes – they will definitely become fussy.

Babies don’t handle gas well, so do your best to get rid of the air bubbles in your pumped milk. You don’t want to risk their pain.

How To Prevent & Get Rid Of Bubbles In Breast Milk?

Now that you know that bubbles in breast milk are not the luckiest food for your little one, you probably wonder how to remove bubbles or prevent them entirely.

To prevent foamy breast milk, handle it with care. Before you store it, allow it to sit (for up to 10 minutes).

Try not to shake or agitate the milk. However, if the bubbles are already present, gently stir the milk around with a spoon, or push out the bubbles, if your milk is in the breast milk bag. That’s why it is better to use soft than hard containers.

You may also use breast flanges to pour the milk into the storage bag or baby’s bottle.

It would be great if you could hand express, as this reduces the risk of bubbles in breast milk. However, if you prefer breast pumps, make sure that all cleanable parts of the pump are thoroughly rinsed, and all connections are properly connected (make sure the connections in the pump aren’t loose).

After warming the milk for feeding, there may still be some remaining bubbles that need to be removed. To prevent an upset stomach, simply add gas drops into the bottle. Few simethicone drops may reduce the number of air bubbles.

Take these steps to help your baby. Ensure the precious milk you are pumping is safe and good for your baby.

Why Air Bubbles In Breast Milk Are Not Safe?

As a mom who experienced “fussy baby” issues due to bloating – I cannot underline enough that the air bubbles while breast pumping are not entirely safe for your little one.

I previously discussed the issues with the gastrointestinal tract your baby could experience by drinking foamy breast milk. Note again that your little one could suffer from unnecessary colic.

Take safety steps with every pumping, but also with storing breast milk. All potentially harmful bacteria and other contaminations are easily avoided3.

If you are freezing your breast milk, be aware of the freezer burn. While you will probably not see it if you are freezing the milk for shorter periods, once your milk is in the freezer for six months, you are risking, according to CDC guidelines, freezer burn. And you end up risking your baby too. I am sure you don’t want that.

So, if you have breast milk in the freezer for more than six months, rather make some baby soap or milky bath out of it.

How Do I Know If My Pumped Milk Is Bad

How Do I Know If My Pumped Milk Is Bad?

If you are unsure the milk is safe – don’t feed your baby with it.

There are some things to look for when determining if your breast milk is safe, or is it bad for your precious one.

  • Test the smell: Is it sour? Is the smell rotten, like out-of-date cow’s milk?
  • The swirl test: Does the fat not mix back in when swirled?
  • Storage: Was it maybe improperly stored?
  • Storage time: Was it in the room temperature for too long? Was it in the refrigerator for more than four days? Was it in the freezer for more than six months?
  • Taste: Does it taste bad to you? Does it have a sour taste similar to rotten cow’s milk?

These signs point out that the milk is bad. For the baby’s sake, check the milk every time. You don’t want any risk, right?

Article By Edna Skopljak

Edna Skopljak is Medical Doctor (MD) who works in University Medical Centre in Ljubljana. She’s a She also worked as an editor at BJBMS medical journal for several years. She wrote content for several health-related websites and the BJBMS blog. She’s a mom of a 15-month-old.

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.


About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

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