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21st Aug 2023

Breast milk comes in all different colours – and each has a meaning

Ellen Fitzpatrick

If you’re someone who pumps or freezes their breast milk, you’ll know that the colour of it can often not be what you expect.

While the majority of colours are completely safe for your baby to drink, some are a cause for concern so it is important we understand the difference.

From white and yellow to blue, green, red and even brown, what does each colour indicate and what colour is considered “normal”.

When most people think of breast milk, they assume it is always a creamy-white colour.  But as it turns out, this is not the only colour it can be, nor is it the only “normal” colour.

The change in colour or shade depends on the type of milk your body is producing.

Colostrum, the first form of milk that is produced, typically comes out in a thicker form and is more yellow in colour, but it can also be runny and clear.

If breast milk is yellow, there can be a few reasons. The beginning of breastfeeding will see this but foods that are high in beta-carotene like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes, can also make your breast milk turn yellow.

Another reason it could appear yellow is by freezing it, as this can alter the colour.

When milk has transitioned from colostrum and becomes mature, it takes on the white hue, appearing more like skimmed milk.

As white and yellow are the two colours we typically expect to see, they aren’t the only two. Blue and green breast milk is also normal and nothing to be concerned about.

Blue breast milk is usually because it is mature milk, or foremilk, and appears thinner and contains less fat while breast milk can turn green from consuming dark green vegetables, like kale or spinach, and green food dyes.

When it comes to pink, red, or orange milk, there are also a few reasons as to why this could be happening.

According to Demi Lucas, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and patient care coordinator with The Lactation Network, pink milk occurs when there is blood mixed into the milk.

This happens when there is cracks in and/or around the nipple or damage in the ducts. If milk is neon pink, it can be a sign there is a bacterial infection.

Red milk can happen as a result of food dyes or blood from damage to the breast from breastfeeding or pumping.

Rusty Pipe Syndrome which is a harmless condition is also a reason for red breast milk and it occurs when old blood that has been left inside the milk ducts from vascular breast engorgement and is released. This only happens in 0.1% of those breastfeeding.

It can be off-putting when we see breastmilk as a different colour but the majority of the time, it is never something to be concerned about.

The only time you should see care from a medical provider is when your breast milk stays blood-tinted for more than a few days as it could indicate a different issue.

The other time you should contact a medical professional is if your breast milk is black or brownish in colour. This is usually caused by herbs or medication and it is important to understand which medication is safe to use while breastfeeding.



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