Breastfeeding mothers know that their breastmilk changes color. They have seen the deep yellows and oranges of their colostrum, easily expressed in those first few days as drops of encouragement for their just-borns. Many new moms have seen yellow tinged milk mixed with a bit of mucus spit ups during the first few feedings. Mothers who are pumping for their newborns will collect liquid gold in the first few days after giving birth.
Did you know that it’s high levels of beta-carotene that gives colostrum that distinctive color?
A breastfeeding mother who continues to breastfeed knows her breastmilk changes color from the beginning of the feed until the end. The journey from fore milk to hind milk during each feeding is a continuum of color change. When first expressed from the nipple, clear liquid begins to fill the pores, quickly followed by visible streaking of fat. This is the color changer... the more fat – the more opaque and likely white to yellow-ish her milk will appear. Expressed breastmilk, left undisturbed, will settle with the colored fat on top of a clearer, blue-ish, more liquidy under layer.
Yup. Certain foods, herbs, nutritional supplements, and medications can change the color of your breastmilk. Eating a lot of dark green leafy vegetables to get your iron count up? On a lime Jell-O binge (dyes)?
Pink, Orange, and Red Breast Milk?
Yup x 3. You may notice pink or orange breast milk, or red-tinged breast milk after eating foods that are naturally colored this way from high levels of beta-carotene - think beets, yams, carrots. Orange soda and red fruit drinks colored with food dyes can cause your milk to turn different shades of pink, orange and slightly red. And I do mean slightly.
Brown Breast Milk and Rusty Pipe Syndrome:
Presence of blood in the breastmilk renders a rusty or brownish color to it; this entity is known as "rusty pipe syndrome".
Blood from inside your breasts can leak into the milk as it is being produced and blood can also get into your breastmilk through cracked nipples. A small amount of blood in your breastmilk is not harmful to your baby. If you see a little blood-tinged milk, there is no need to stop breastfeeding. However, you do need to check with your care providers to be certain of any underlying medical conditions.
Paula ZIndler RN IBCLC
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