If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve just discovered that your breast milk appears to be a color other than a shade of white. Before we explain the reason for the color change, know that there’s no need to fret! In most cases, it is completely normal for breast milk to change tint. Let’s explore the reasons behind the many shades of breast milk.
The Postpartum Stages of Breast Milk
Breast milk reflects a variety of hues during the postpartum months, but initial color changes typically occur throughout the stages immediately following childbirth:
Colostrum – Preliminary milk that appears immediately after a baby is born and has a yellowish color.
Transitional – Milk that comes in after the colostrum stage and before the production of mature breast milk. The transitional milk colors will often show a whitish, yellowish, or orangey color.
Mature – Milk that appears to be white or blueish and has a similar consistency to skim milk. Mature breast milk will generally come in two weeks after childbirth, but this timeframe is based on averages. Mature breast milk may appear earlier or later.
These color changes are natural and normal throughout the postpartum stage, but you should always feel comfortable contacting your doctor if you’re concerned about the color or consistency of your breast milk.
Other Reasons Why Breast Milk Changes Color
As you continue breastfeeding your baby, you may notice that your breast milk displays a range of different colors. Rest easy knowing that this is mainly due to what you’re consuming, such as foods, drinks, and supplements. Breast milk that turns the following colors are likely due to eating foods that reflect that shade, for instance:
Greenish – Leafy greens, such as spinach, green vegetables, or any kind of foods that may contain green dyes.
Orange or Rust – Foods high in beta-carotene such as carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins, or orange-flavored beverages, such as sodas or sports drinks.
Red or Pink – Beets, raspberries, strawberries, and fruit drinks. It’s important to note that there may be blood in red or pinkish-colored breast milk, which is a common side effect of a broken capillary or cracked nipples. The redness in the milk will dissipate as your breast heals. Be sure to reach out to your doctor if the pain persists or if you believe it’s due to something more serious, such as an infection.
In addition, breast milk may change color or consistency because of how it’s being stored. For instance, breast milk that’s been frozen may look a little yellowish when it thaws. Medication and supplements may also affect the color of breast milk. Some mothers report a blackish or dark brownish color when taking certain medicines, like the antibiotic Minocin. It’s always recommended to talk to your doctor first before you take any medications or supplements while breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is beautiful, challenging, and full of surprises! Hopefully, this explanation eases some concerns about the variety of breast milk colors, but if you’re looking for more guidance on this topic, this article includes tips for successful breastfeeding, and this covers a dad’s role in breastfeeding.