When we think of milk, we think of white — not yellow, blue, red, or green. Yet, breast milk can be all these colors and more, and be completely safe for your baby to drink.
It’s entirely normal to worry when the color of your breast milk seems to change from day to day, or from one pumping session to the next. But a color change is rarely ever a cause for concern. Here are the reasons behind 9 possible breast milk colors:
This is the color we expect breast milk to be, and we’ll see a lot of it. When other colors enter the picture, it’s most likely going to appear as a tinge in your white breast milk.
Breast milk is generally divided into foremilk and hindmilk, the former coming early in the pumping session and the latter coming later. Foremilk is thinner as its lower in fat content than the creamier hindmilk. You may notice that the foremilk appears to have a bluish tint.
Foremilk can also seem to be almost clear in color.
The first time you may see yellow breast milk is in the first few days after your baby is born. This first milk is called colostrum. It’s golden-yellow in color, made in very small amounts to match your newborn’s marble-sized tummy, and has a slightly sticky consistency. It may be as different from what you imagined breast milk to look like, but its nickname “liquid gold” conveys how incredibly important this yellow milk is to giving your baby a head start in life.
Later, once your colostrum transitions to mature milk, you may notice that your white breast milk turns yellowish once frozen. This is simply a result of the temperature change.
You may see yellowish-orange breast milk after eating foods high in beta-carotene. The vegetables with this eyesight-boosting antioxidant tend to be orange, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Likewise, if you’re pumping breast milk with a greenish tint, it’s likely you’ve been eating a lot of greens lately. Spinach, kale, seaweed, or dark green lettuce will all color your milk green.
Green food dyes, such as in green Gatorade, may also cause your to produce greenish milk.
As with orange or green foods, eating beets will color your breast milk pinkish. Food dyes in red Jell-O or soda may also tinge your milk.
Pink or rusty-colored breast milk may sometimes be due to a small amount of blood in your milk. It’s completely safe for your baby to consume milk with a little bit of your blood in it. But this is a red flag for you to address the source of bleeding. Often it’s sore nipples, which should be seen by your lactation consultant and health care provider.
Rarely, your nipples or a breast infection may cause enough bleeding to make your breast milk appear not just pinkish but with red streaks. It’s still OK for your baby, but you should contact your lactation consultant and health care provider right away for an evaluation and treatment.
Another rarity is blackish or chocolate-brown milk. This is likely due to some old blood, but it may indicate an infection. Contact your lactation consultant and health care provider for advice on how to address this.
Photo credit: l3l3oysky/Shutterstock