Just when you think pregnancy changed your body enough for a lifetime, it adjusts again to produce breast milk. You may notice that your breast milk is a slightly different color from one day to the next. Don’t panic; this is normal! Learn more about how the color of your breast milk can change throughout your breastfeeding journey.
What causes breast milk to change?
Moms’ bodies naturally adjust the content of breast milk. The first stage of breast milk is “colostrum.” This thin, yellowish fluid is rich in antibodies and minerals made to protect newborns from diseases. Colostrum begins developing towards the end of the third trimester and becomes transitional milk around three to seven days postpartum. Transitional milk will eventually become slightly whiter in color. When it becomes mature milk, it is usually white with only a yellow or blue tint.
While your breast milk will change color over time, breast milk also changes throughout a feeding session. When using a breast pump to express milk, moms can clearly see the different milk stages. Foremilk is expressed first when a mom is pumping and is high in volume but relatively low in calories. This phase of breast milk is usually clear or bluish in color and is designed to help babies feel full quickly during a feeding. Hindmilk, on the other hand, is white and lower in volume but full of helpful nutrients to help infants grow.
What foods can change my breast milk?
While some changes in breast milk color are a result of the natural transition of breast milk, eating certain foods can also impact breast milk color from one day to the next. Foods high in carotene, like carrots, yams, or squashes, may cause your breast milk to develop a yellow or orange tint if you eat a high enough quantity. Artificial red dyes found in sodas, fruit drinks, and other food items can also cause a pink or reddish color to develop in moms’ breast milk. Vegan and vegetarian mamas may be more likely to have a greenish tint to their milk, as eating a high volume of green vegetables like spinach and kale can impact breast milk color. In some cases, pink breast milk can be caused by blood. A small amount of blood in breast milk is usually not dangerous for infants.
When should I see a doctor about my breast milk?
Some differences in breast milk color are normal, but a conversation with a doctor is necessary to know for sure. A small amount of blood in your breast milk is not usually concerning unless it persists for a significant period of time. If the blood is due to cracked nipples that are having trouble healing, doctors can recommend a nipple cream. In some cases, however, blood in breast milk can be a sign of a more serious condition, like a breast infection or breast cancer. If you are concerned about the amount or frequency of blood in your breast milk, talk with your doctor.
Motherhood can be scary sometimes. It may feel like something is seriously wrong if your breast milk changes color unexpectedly. But remember that breast milk changes color frequently, and you can always call your doctor or discard your expressed breast milk. You know what’s best for your baby!
The team at Pumps for Mom is familiar with how many unknowns come up during pregnancy and motherhood. We are here to make your life a little bit easier. Whether you are searching for the best insurance breast pump or are interested in a postpartum recovery garment through your insurance, our team of experts is here to help. Pumps for Mom is passionate about helping new moms breastfeed with a breast pump through insurance and feel their best with maternity compression products.