If you’re worried about the colour of your breast milk you’ve come to the right place. We’ll tell you all about breast milk colour and the causes behind it.
Breast Milk Colour Guide
Normal Breast Milk
Colostrum is the first milk you will make make after birth. This milk is quite thick, like a single cream consistency, and yellow in colour. Around 3-4 days after birth you will start to produce what is known as ‘mature milk’. This milk has more of a variety to its thickness and colour depending on how old your baby is and what time of day. That’s the amazing thing about breast milk, it can be watery and whiter to hydrate baby like a glass of water (fore milk), or it can change from being thicker and creamier in colour to fill baby up like a meal (hind milk).
Expressed and stored breast milk can form a fat layer on top which is cream in colour with the white milk below. This is normal and doesn’t mean the milk has gone ‘off’. Spoiled milk has a distinct sour smell. Never shake your milk to mix the layers together as this can take away some of the benefits of the milk – similar to overcooked veggies. It’s better to swirl the milk in the bottle, ‘tornado’ style, this will also ensure it re-heats evenly.
It is not unusual for milk to have a blue, green, pink or orange tinge to it. Your diet is the most common reason. Consider if you eat excessive amount of certain colours (such as green vegetables) or even dyes used in foods. Certain medication may also cause colour changes to your breast milk.
Rusty Pipe Syndrome
Has your baby vomited pink or brown tinged milk? Is your breast milk watery and pink? Then you may have rusty-pipe syndrome. If there are no other symptoms then this is caused by increased blood flow to your breasts. This causes tiny blood vessels to break open resulting in blood in the milk. The blood is in no way harmful to baby and you can continue to feed as normal. You may also see the blood passing though into baby’s stools. This occurs in around 15% of breastfeeding mums and usually passes within 3-7 days.
If baby has swallowed blood due to sore or cracked nipples, you may want to read our tips on for dealing with sore nipples and how to help them heal.
Cause for concern
If the change in colour is accompanied by flu-like symptoms and a fever then seek medical help immediately. It may be mastitis which will need urgent antibiotic treatment.
A raised temperature or there is a pus like discharge then this indicates a breast infection. You should get medical advice from your GP at the next available appointment.
You are concerned that a colour change or associated symptoms has persisted for longer than a few weeks without any obvious cause then seek advice from your GP.
As always if at any time you are concerned with the colour of your breast milk ask for advice. Your midwife, breastfeeding support worker or health visitor will know your specific circumstances and be able to provide reassurance or referral.