What Different Colors In Your Breast Milk Mean — Plus The Most Common Colors
As strange as it sounds, noticing a "rainbow" of colors when you pump or examine your breast milk is totally normal. Aside from staring at your nutritional artwork in awe, knowing what different colors in your breast milk mean can be helpful as you examine your diet or just simply want to understand why in the world your milk isn't purely white. Though your milk won't be a literal rainbow, it's not uncommon for it to be tinged with different colors like blue, green, or even pink.
“Milk comes in a wide variety of colors and we are really only aware of the color when we see it pumped,” registered nurse and lactation consultant Deborah Dominici of Babies Breast Friend in Honolulu tells Romper. “Our babies drink our rainbows of milk everyday.”
Obviously, the food you eat can have an impact on the contents of your breast milk. And, as it turns out, your food intake impacts the color of it as well. The majority of the colors your milk may turn will be dictated by what foods your diet is rich in, according to La Leche League International (LLLI). This doesn't mean anything is wrong with your diet or your breast milk, and, in the vast majority of cases, noticing an odd tinge in color to your milk is nothing to worry about.
Sometimes, your milk will be colored by other things besides food, but even then, it's usually harmless. So, pump and nurse on, knowing that your breast milk's color can be just as unique as the baby you're feeding it to.
1. Your Breast Milk Is Clear-ish Or Blue
“The first milk that is expressed has a slightly lower fat content and higher water content, so it often appears more blue or pale white,” lactation consultant Rebecca Costello of In the Flow Lactation tells Romper. “As we continue to express milk, the milk often becomes a more solid white or yellow as the fat content increases.”
You may be concerned that a lower fat content might mean your foremilk — the milk first expressed with this blue tint — isn’t good for your baby. Costello explains that this milk is still perfectly healthy.
“This does not mean the first milk expressed is ‘skim milk’ or that it is ‘bad’ or not nutritious enough for your baby. All the milk you express is excellent nutrition for your baby,” Costello says. “The composition just changes slightly over the course of the feed, which is one of the really cool things about your milk."
2. Your Milk Is Green
“Patients have certainly shared with me that they notice a different color or taste to their milk when consuming different foods,” Costello explains. “Any food that is strongly colored or flavored could potentially influence your milk's appearance or flavor. Again, this change doesn't mean there's anything bad or harmful about your milk.”
No, you’re not turning into a leprechaun if you express green milk. While it may be a shock to see, green milk is likely just a byproduct of that kale and seaweed salad you had for lunch.
“Some plant-based vitamins can change the color of milk,” lactation consultant Leigh Anne O’Connor tells Romper. “Leafy green vegetables can make milk green.”
3. Your Milk Is Orange Or Yellow
If your milk is orange or yellow, there could be several explanations, but Dominici explains that “the most common culprits are foods high in beta carotene like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes, which would give a yellowish tint.”
Similarly, frozen breast milk or milk that was pumped shortly after birth may have a yellow appearance.
“When breast milk is frozen, it typically takes on a yellowish tint, and it is safe to consume as long as it has been stored properly,” Dominici tells Romper. “A yellow tint to milk can also indicate the presence of higher concentrations of colostrum which may have been pumped in the first weeks of nursing, or pumped when mom or baby was ill. Our bodies respond to illness by changing the composition of the breast milk.”
4. Your Breast Milk Has Blood In It Or Is A Rusty Brown Color
“Right after your baby is born, some people see small amounts of dark-brown blood in their colostrum or milk. This is called ‘rusty pipe syndrome,’” Costello explains. “As the milk ducts grow and expand during pregnancy, there is sometimes a small amount of bleeding inside the breast. That is then ‘washed out’ as the colostrum or milk is expressed.”
Having a small amount of blood in your breast milk is generally normal and harmless to your baby (although larger amounts can potentially upset their stomach, Costello says), but it is still a good idea to get checked out depending on the appearance of your milk.
“Some people will also see bright red blood in their milk at various times. This can be due to nipple trauma, or to an injury or condition deeper in the milk ducts,” Costello tells Romper. “If you see blood in your milk and you are not sure where it's coming from, always reach out to your health care team, like your OB, midwife, or International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant.”
5. Black-ish Breast Milk
No, it's not from drinking too much coffee. As frightening as it sounds, black-ish breast milk shouldn't cause you to worry. It’s likely just a side effect of taking certain medications.
“Some antibiotics can change the color of breast milk to black — it looks scary, but is not a problem,” O’Connor tells Romper.
It’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor to make sure your medication is safe for breastfeeding.
6. Neon Milk
In addition to these common colors, lactation consultants warn that some moms can see bright neon-colored milk in certain situations.
“Various medications can impact the color of milk. I've seen a medication turn milk neon green,” Costello says. “As long as the medication is considered safe for nursing — you should consult trusted resources such as Lactmed and the InfantRisk Center at Texas Tech — there should not be a cause for concern from the color change alone.”
Additionally, bacteria can cause a different color of neon milk to occur.
“One other thing that can cause a milk color change is an infection called serratia marcescens. This bacteria causes milk to turn a hot pink color — typically milk will be normal color when pumped, but will turn pink as it sits in bottle due to the bacterial content,” Dominici tells Romper. “If you experience this, notify your doctor right away.”
Rebecca Costello, IBCLC, MPH of In the Flow Lactation
Deborah Dominici RN, IBCLC, Babies Breast Friend in Honolulu, Hawaii
Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE
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