What Color Should Breast Milk Be?

White, Yellow, Clear, Blue, Green, Pink, Orange, Brown, and Black Breast Milk

Is it normal to see clear, yellow, blue, green, or pink breast milk? What color should breast milk be?
What causes breast milk to change colors?. Jamie Grill/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

What Color Should Breast Milk Be?

Most of the time, breast milk is clear, white, blue-tinged, tan, or yellow. However, at some point during your breastfeeding experience, you may be surprised to find that your breast milk can be other colors, as well.

Clear Breast Milk and Blue Breast Milk

In general, breast milk tends to be clear or bluish in color when it first starts to flow out of your breast at the beginning of a feeding, or at the beginning of a pumping session.

This milk is called the foremilk. Foremilk is breast milk that is thinner and lower in fat. Then, as you continue to pump or nurse your baby, the fat content in your milk goes up. As the fat increases, your breast milk will turn into the creamier, whiter milk called hindmilk.

The Different Colors of Breast Milk

Certain foods, herbs, nutritional supplements, and medications can change the color of your breast milk. These additives can also change the color of your urine or your baby’s urine. Although it might be shocking and scary to see, it's normal for breast milk to vary in color and tint. These changes are usually diet-related, and not dangerous.

Green Breast Milk

You may notice green breast milk after you eat green foods or foods that contain green dyes. Your breast milk might take on a green color if you drink green-colored beverages, eat a good amount of spinach or seaweed, or add certain herbs or vitamin supplements to your diet.

Pink, Orange, and Red Breast Milk

Your may notice pink breast milk, orange breast milk, or red-tinged breast milk after eating foods that are naturally these colors, or after having foods or drinks that contain red, yellow, or orange food dye. Beets, orange soda, and red or orange fruit drinks can all cause your milk to turn different shades of pink, red, and orange.

Blood In Your Breast Milk, Brown Breast Milk, and Rusty Pipe Syndrome

If blood from inside your breasts leaks into your milk ducts, your breast milk may look brown and rust-colored. When breast milk looks like dirty water from an old rusty pipe, it's called rusty pipe syndrome. Blood can also get into your breast milk if you have cracked nipples. It may appear as red or pink streaks in your milk. 

A small amount of blood in your breast milk is not harmful to your baby. If you see a little blood-tinged milk, there is no need to stop breastfeeding. In most cases, the bleeding will go away on its own in a few days. If it doesn't, and you continue to notice blood in your breast milk after a week, check with your doctor.

Black Breast Milk

The production of black milk is linked to the antibiotic Minocin (minocycline). Minocin also causes darkening of the skin. The use of Minocin is not recommended while you're nursing. That's why it's so important to always let your doctor know that you're breastfeeding before taking any medication.

When to Call the Doctor

Most of the time, any change in the color of your breast milk is due to something that you ate, and it's likely nothing to worry over. However, if you have any concerns about the color of your breast milk, you should feel comfortable contacting your health care provider. Your doctor or a lactation specialist will be able to listen to your concerns, evaluate the situation, and have you come in for an examination, if necessary.   

Sources:

Cadwell, Karin, Turner-Maffei, Cynthia, O'Connor, Barbara, Cadwell Blair, Anna, Arnold, Lois D.W., and Blair Elyse M. Maternal and Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation A Guide for the Practitioner Second Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 2006.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

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