I just gave birth a month ago and am committed to exclusively breastfeeding for awhile. Luckily, I can work with my son by my side so pumping isn't exactly mandatory, but it's nice to get a break — especially since my husband is willing to take the 4 a.m. feeding. So even though using (and what's worse, cleaning) a breast pump is not the way I most enjoy spending my time, I've been doing it anyway because it's worth it for that bag of liquid gold. Or, um, sapphire? Because hello, why does my breast milk look blue? Are all those frozen blueberries I craved during pregnancy coming back to haunt me?
Like most people, I held the assumption that breast milk is always white. After all, the gallon in my fridge is white and milk is milk, right? Well actually, no. Human milk is different than cow's milk, Lactation Consultant Karen Meade tells Romper, yet people mistakenly associate them with one another all the time. "Cow's milk comes from cows, not humans, and it is both homogenized and heat-treated, so there isn't the same variety in color that you might see in human milk," she explains. "Human milk is lower in fat than cow's milk, so human milk often appears to have a bluish tint."
According to Nancy Hurst, director of Women's Support Services at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women in Houston, your breast milk may look blue at certain times of the day. “The blueish color is most noticeable during the first few minutes of milk expression, when the composition is mostly foremilk," she tells Romper in an exclusive interview. "As the breast continues to empty, the composition changes to hind milk, which is higher in fat, giving it that creamier color. A mother may notice this blueish color more when she has gone a longer time between pumpings, say first thing in the morning, when her breasts are fuller. A blueish tint in expressed breast milk is mainly due to the foremilk composition and how the light refracts off of it.”
So the lower the fat, the bluer the milk? Should moms be looking for a certain balance of blue and white milk to ensure that their little ones are getting the best possible nutrition? It's not that complicated, experts say. According to the American Pregnancy Association, all breast milk contains healthy fats necessary for brain development, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and nervous system development. You don't have to do worry about what color it is and when — it's all magical unicorn stardust.
Not only can human milk be blue and still perfectly healthy, the possibilities don't end there. Meade elaborates, "Human milk isn't always white, and that isn't a problem whatsoever. Many parents discover that their expressed milk is blue, green, pink, brown, or some other color. And the color can change with each pumping session, too. A lactating parent who has eaten lots of green, leafy vegetables may notice a change in milk color as might one who has been ingesting foods containing artificial coloring agents."
So rest assured, Supermama. Your milk is perfect and contains everything your little one needs to grow and thrive, no matter what color it comes out.
If you need extra confidence, Meade suggests taking a page from your baby's book — you're not hearing any qualms from her. "Babies who eat at the breast regularly ingest milk of all different colors without complaint," Meade points out reassuringly. "It is just parents (or other caregivers) who get worried when expressed human milk doesn't look like the cow's milk they are used to buying from the grocery store."
My takeaway from this? Worry less, pump more. And eat all the frozen blueberries I want.
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