If you are new to expressing breast milk, you may be surprised to find that breast milk comes in a variety of colors and consistency. The amazing thing about breast milk is that it changes to meet your baby’s needs. This happens not only at each feed but also as they get older and need different nutrients.
So what color is breast milk? Let’s check out the most common type of breast milk you will see.
A small volume of yellow, thick milk. This is the first milk your breasts produce and begins in pregnancy. Also known as ‘liquid gold’, this amazing milk is the first liquid you baby will drink from birth until 3-4 days old. It’s a concentrated mix of nutrients, vitamins and antibodies which supercharge your baby’s digestive and immune systems. It’s made in small amount as baby only required around 5ml per feed.
After a few days of breastfeeding or expressing you milk will increase in volume and change appearance too. You will notice there are two distinct types of breast milk.
A thin watery, white milk – similar to regular cow’s milk. Fore milk is made to quench your baby’s thirst. This is the first milk they receive during a feed, and usually only this type is the feed is short. Lactose and proteins are the main contents of fore milk. Lots of short feeds can lead to too much fore milk and windy, irritated baby with lots of green stools.
A thick, creamy, ‘off white’ colored milk – similar to single cream or buttermilk. Hind milk is used to make baby feel full and help baby grow. Your baby will get this milk after the foremilk, and usually takes a longer feed to reach the hind milk. This milk is mostly made up of fats and calories to meet baby’s energy needs and to go longer between feeds.
Occasionally your milk may take on a different color, but no need to worry. Breast milk is made from your blood and is affected by anything you put into your body.
Green Breast Milk
This is most likely to be caused by eating lots of green (or blue) colored foods. Common foods which cause this are often vitamin packed plant based foods such as spinach or seaweed. Foods which contain blue dyes may also be responsible for green tinged milk. Certain herbals medicines or supplements may also cause your milk to become green tinged.
Red or Pink Breast Milk
Again this may be caused by moms diet, common causes include food dyes, soda and bright colored vegetables such as beets or squash.
Another cause of pink tinged or blood streaked milk is the harmless ‘rusty pipe’ syndrome. This is caused by small bloods vessels breaking in the breasts and giving your milk the appearance of water from an old pipe. It may also be cause by cracked nipples and often resolves within a week or two. If symptoms persist for longer talk to your lactation adviser or doctor, particularly if you experience pain when expressing.
Blue Breast Milk
Sometime fore milk can have a blue tinge, it’s normal and not cause for concern. Blue tinged milk can also be caused by diet, food dyes in particular, or herbal supplements. If you are storing the milk you will find the blue hue often fades over time and milk turn white again.
Black Breast Milk
This is rare but can be a side effect of taking the antibiotic minocycline (Minocin). You should inform your doctor if you are currently prescribed this medication as it is not recommended for use whilst nursing.