All women are aware of the benefits of breast milk for their babies. Breast milk has antibodies that can help to strengthen the immune system of your baby. Some babies have an easier time digesting breast milk compared to digesting formula. But, if you are a new mother, you might be unaware of the different colors of breast milk. You may assume that your breast milk has the same color as cow’s milk or formula. But, the color of the breast milk can vary considerably.
Usually, the breast milk color is yellow, white, clear, cream, tan, or blue-tinged. But, at some points during your breastfeeding experience, you may be surprised that your breast milk can have another color as well. Your breast milk may look as though it has a green, pink or red tint, depending on what you eat or what you drink. In some cases, a little bit of blood may even make its way into your breast milk and this gives a brown or rust color.
Also, you can notice that the color of your breast milk can change over time. But, your breast milk can change during the course of the day or even within the same feeding. You may be wondering what color your breast milk should be and what it is normal. You should not be worried, because in many cases when women are producing different colors of their breast milk is not a reason why they should be concerned. It is important to understand that your breast milk color can change from one time to another time.
- 1 The Color of the Breast Milk:
- 1.1 The normal color of the breast milk:
- 1.2 Causes for breast milk to have yellow color:
- 1.3 Reasons why the breast milk is blue:
- 1.4 Reasons why breast milk is green:
- 1.5 Reasons why breast milk is pink or brown:
- 1.6 Reasons why breast milk is black:
- 1.7 Color changes to expect when you are breastfeeding:
- 1.8 Is there something wrong if the breast milk changes its color?
- 1.9 That means when you have blood in your breast milk:
The Color of the Breast Milk:
Typically, the breast milk is white with a yellowish or bluish tint. This depends on how long you have been breastfeeding. The tone can replace based on many different factors. Most of the time, the new color of breast milk is harmless.
The normal color of the breast milk:
If some breast milk color is normal for one woman, this does not mean that this color is normal for another woman. So, you should not necessarily go out and compare the breast milk color with all your breastfeeding friends. In most cases, breast milk is lighter in appearance, usually, it is white in color, but it can have a slightly yellowish or bluish hue.
Causes for breast milk to have yellow color:
There are some factors that can make your breast milk color yellow, such as
- Colostrum: If you have recently given birth, then you may be surprised to see that you have thick yellow breast milk rather than white milk. You should know that this is completely normal. Many new mothers create yellow milk during the early few days after delivery. It is known as colostrum or first milk because it is the first milk your breasts produce after the delivery. Colostrum is rich in antibodies. It is thicker and you will produce this milk for up to five days after giving birth.
- Diet: You might continue to produce yellow breast milk even months into breastfeeding. Especially, this can happen if you eat foods that are yellow or orange in colors, such as sweet potatoes and carrots.
- Freezing: You should remember that the color of your breast milk can change after freezing. In the beginning, your breast milk may seem white and then become to a slightly yellow color and this again is perfectly normal. This does not show that you have a problem with the milk supply.
Reasons why breast milk is white:
The color of the breast milk that most people expect to see when they are breastfeeding or pumping is white. What is important to know is that the body does not typically produce white breast milk until a few days postpartum. This is happening when the milk transitions from first milk (known as colostrum) to mature milk.
Also, your milk supply increases during this time and it continues to do so during the first two weeks after delivery. Every single person is different, so during this transition, your breast milk may go from a dark yellow to light yellow or from a yellowish color to a completely white color.
Reasons why the breast milk is blue:
Also, it is normal to have slightly blue breast milk. The bluish hue is often noticeable at the beginning of nursing or pumping. This milk (which is known as foremilk) is thinner and also has less fat and more electrolytes. When breastfeeding comes to the end of the feeding or pumping session, the milk (also known as hindmilk) becomes thicker and it has more fat, which results in a creamier white or yellowish color. If you have noticed that the skim cow’s milk that you buy at the store can have a blueish hue, then it is happening for similar reasons, which means it has less fat.
Reasons why breast milk is green:
You should not be afraid if you see that the breast milk is green. You should think about what you recently ate. If you ate a green-colored food that changed the color of your breast milk, maybe you have eaten a bunch of green vegetables or drank a smoothie. You should not be worried, because your breast milk will return to its normal color. You should pat yourself on the back for those healthy food choices.
Reasons why breast milk is pink or brown:
Some foods that you consume, like beets, can be a reason why your breast milk is pink or brown. Also, those foods that are made with artificial colorings like gelatin desserts and carbonated soda can be a reason why your breast milk is pink or brown. But, the pink or brown tint can be also a sign that you have blood in your breast milk.
There can be different reasons why this is happening, such as benign milk ducts growths known as papillomas, increased blood flow to the breasts (this is sometimes called rusty pipe syndrome), and sore and bleeding nipples. Also, pink or brown breast milk can be a sign of a breast infection, known as mastitis or in rare cases, breast cancer.
Reasons why breast milk is black:
Some medications, like minocycline (this medication is safe to take for short periods while you are nursing), can make your breast milk to appear black.
Color changes to expect when you are breastfeeding:
Below is given what you should know for different types of breast milk, including color changes that can happen with each stage.
- Colostrum: This is the first milk which your breasts produce after delivering your baby. This milk lasts up to 5 days postpartum. This milk is rich in antibodies which is beneficial for your baby’s health. It has a yellowish color.
- Transitional milk: This is the milk that your breasts produce between the colostrum and mature milk stage. It lasts between 5 and 14 days postpartum. This milk is yellowish or orange in color and it has a creamier appearance.
- Mature milk: This is the milk that your breasts start to produce at about two weeks postpartum. The foremilk appears blue, clear, or white at the beginning of each feeding, and then it becomes creamier, thicker, or yellow toward the end of each feeding.
Is there something wrong if the breast milk changes its color?
Probably, there is not something wrong if your breast milk changes its color. Naturally, breast milk changes color in the beginning as your body goes from making colostrum to transitional milk to mature milk. Even if you are in the mature stage, your breast milk color can be affected by what you consume. When your doctor gave you some medications or supplements that he or she has said that they are safe for breastfeeding, then you should not be worried if your breast milk changes its color.
When you have pinkish milk, then this could indicate blood in your breast milk and this can be a sign that something relatively harmless like irritated nipples or it could be a sign that you have a more serious problem with your health. So, if this is your case, then you should talk with your doctor to find out the reason for your changed breast milk color.
That means when you have blood in your breast milk:
Usually, when mothers see blood in their breast milk, then they can be scared, but this is not a major problem. Often, the blood in your breast milk is a sign of bleeding around the nipples and this is happening quite a bit to breastfeeding mothers. Or, it can be a sign of increased blood flow to the breasts or milk ducts when your body starts making colostrum and transitional milk. Typically, both happen in the early days of breastfeeding.
The blood which is caused by these problems will usually go away in a few days. There are rare cases when the blood could be caused by certain types of breast cancer, papillomas (these are benign growths in the milk ducts), or mastitis. If you have noticed blood in your breast milk, then talk with your doctor. Your doctor can examine your breasts and he or she will make other tests if needed to see what is happening with your breasts.