The composition of breastmilk changes constantly depending on what your baby needs and how you are feeling. However, a change in the color of your breast milk makes many moms concerned. Here are some of the most common breast milk colors and what they mean.
When your milk starts to come in after your baby is born (or sometimes in the weeks leading up to delivery), it will most likely be a yellow or orange color. This is actually called colostrum! Colostrum tends to be thicker than normal breast milk and is packed full of nutrients for your new baby. This “liquid gold” as many people call it has a high protein content and is packed with white blood cells to produce antibodies. Overall, this milk stage is specifically meant to help your baby transition into the outside world. Typically, you’ll only see colostrum for the first few days after birth before it starts to change.
Another one of the common breast milk colors is light yellow. You’ll most likely see this in transitional milk, which is the breastmilk that comes in between colostrum and your normal, mature milk. This stage of milk has a higher fat and lactose content and you’ll notice that your supply will be increasing to keep up with your baby’s needs at this time. However, the basic “makeup” of your milk stays the same as your milk moves from colostrum to transitional milk and then to mature milk… The main difference between the three is the levels of nutrients in each! This has a very milky consistency and will only last about two weeks or so.
Once your mature milk comes in, you will start to see the typical “white” color associated with breast milk! However, don’t be concerned if it’s not the exact white color you pictured. Every mom’s breastmilk is unique in its color and may look slightly different. Just take a look at my keepsake gallery! Besides their individual additions, each piece has a unique shade of milk depending on the mom’s breastmilk.
Otherwise known as “strawberry” milk, this is one of the breast milk colors that you should look out for! If your breast milk has a red or pink tint, this typically means there is blood in the milk. This can happen for a variety of reasons. If you are dealing with cracked nipples, you may see some blood mixed in with your breast milk. Additionally, consuming foods or drinks that are naturally red or pink or have artificial dyes can change the color. You might also see a pink or brown color if you have mastitis.
Another instance when you might notice red or pink breast milk is if you have trauma to your breasts or aren’t using a breast pump properly. This can damage the capillaries in your breast, leading to broken capillaries that bleed into your milk.
“Rusy pipe syndrome” is another common cause of a red, orange, or sometimes brown color in your breast milk. New moms may see this as they begin breastfeeding because of the increased blood flow to your breasts to encourage your body to produce breast milk.
Two medical conditions that may cause this color of milk are Serratia Marcenscens and Benign Intraductal Papillomas. Serratia Marcenscens is a bacterial infection that can cause a number of issues and would require an antibiotic to clear up. Additionally, benign intraductal papillomas are (typically) non-cancerous tumors that can grow in a milk duct. The course of treatment for these is surgical removal to prevent any future issues.
However, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your doctor if you are concerned so they can get to the root cause of the odd breast milk colors.
As long as you are comfortable doing so, it is still completely safe to feed red or pink-colored breast milk to your baby! However, if your baby seems to be resisting, that is normal, too. There is typically a change in taste which can lead to your baby refusing the milk.
If your breast milk has a blue tint, there shouldn’t be any reason to worry! Some women see a blueish tint in their foremilk, which is the milk that flows at the beginning of a pumping and/or nursing session. This is because it is thinner or “watery” as some people describe it. As your letdown reflex begins, your milk will have more sugar and less fat. The main benefit of this foremilk is to satisfy your baby’s need for milk while hindmilk (the second stage of milk) provides a higher fat content to fill them up. Once again, blue-tinted breast milk is perfectly fine to feed your baby!
Another one of the breast milk colors that you should consider contacting a doctor about is if your milk is gray or very dark. While a slightly darker “white” could be your typical milk color, breast milk that is dark gray or black may be due to old blood or a medication you are taking, according to Medela.
Green breast milk might make you concerned, but it’s most likely due to your diet! This one is pretty rare, but if you drink a lot of pressed juices or “green” smoothies or eat a diet high in greens, you may see this color tint in your breast milk.
The Many Different Breast Milk Colors
Overall, a change in the color of your breast milk is rarely a reason for concern. In fact, most of these out-of-the-normal colors can actually come from the colors in your diet as well! If you notice a color change over a longer period of time or you have other concerns, it is always a good idea to reach out to a lactation counselor and make sure nothing else is going on. Otherwise, keep on breastfeeding your baby!
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