You have probably assumed that breast milk is always white before you started breastfeeding. This is why it is understandable that you are a freaked out a little if you noticed a slight change in breast milk color. So, what color is breast milk actually? Well, there’s no definite answer to this question.
There is nothing to worry about if you noticed a slight change in color. Moreover, this is a normal thing to happen and a lot of new moms experience it. The tints can vary more than you think. The color is usually white, yellow, cream, clear, or blue. However, you will probably notice other colors at some point during breastfeeding months.
Breast Milk Color During Different Stages
Your breast milk will change frequently during the first few weeks after your baby is born. The amount, composition, and breast milk color will all go through different stages. In order to understand what color is breast milk during each stage, you have to know what these stages are:
Once your body starts making breast milk, colostrum will be the first type of your breast milk. During this period, your body will be making only small amounts of colostrum, but it will be highly nutritious and concentrated. Usually, colostrum will be watery, thin, and clear. However, don’t be surprised if your colostrum is thick and orange or yellow in color. Dark yellow or orange color is there due to the high levels of beta-carotene in mom’s colostrum.
Colostrum will only last for a couple of days. After the initial period, your body will start to produce more breast milk and transitional milk stage will begin. The color of the transitional milk will usually go from yellow to white. The period of transitional milk usually lasts for about two weeks.
Your body reaches the mature milk stage after about two weeks. The changes in the appearance of the mature breast milk will vary depending on the fat levels in it.
- Foremilk: Usually, the mature breast milk will be lower in fat and thinner once you start breastfeeding at first. This type of milk is referred to as foremilk and it usually looks bluish or clear since it contains low amounts of fat.
- Hindmilk: The fat content in your breast milk will go up as you continue to breastfeed. Your breast milk will then start containing more fat and will be creamier. People usually refer to this type of milk as hindmilk. It has a thick texture and is usually yellow or white in appearance.
Other Breast Milk Colors
Certain medications, nutritional supplements, herbs, and foods can change the color of your breast milk. Also, your and your baby’s urine might also be affected by these additives. It is totally normal for breast milk to change colors even though it might scary and shocking to see at first. The changes are usually not dangerous and are diet-related most of the time. There are a few common breast milk color variations.
After eating foods that contain green dyes or green foods in general you will probably notice a green tone to your breast milk. Also, drinking green-colored beverages might also lead to a greenish breast milk color. Vitamin supplements, certain herbs, seaweed and spinach, and other green vegetables all lead to a possible green milk color.
Red, Orange, Pink Milk
Eating foods that contain orange, yellow, and red dyes will most likely lead to orange, yellow or red breast milk. Orange and red fruit drinks might turn your breast milk to pink, red, or orange color. Orange soda and beets might also cause a change in color.
Rust-colored, Brown, and Blood Milk
You may notice rust, dark orange, or brown colored breast milk if the blood from inside your breasts is leaking into your milk ducts. Also, you might want to consult whether you’re suffering from rusty pipe syndrome – a condition happening when your milk looks like muddy water from a pipe. Cracked nipples might also lead to leaking blood into your milk. However, you don’t have to panic.
Definitely, don’t stop breastfeeding. Your child won’t be harmed by a little bit of blood in your breast milk. The bleeding should stop after a few days in most cases. However, if you keep noticing the same problem even after a week make sure you contact your doctor to check whether there’s an underlying problem.
This breast milk color is very rare, but it happens. However, this color of milk is tightly connected with an antibiotic called Minocin. This antibiotic can also have a darkening effect on the skin. You shouldn’t be taking this antibiotic while breastfeeding due to its negative effects. Always consult with your doctor before taking any medication while you’re nursing.
Breast Milk Ingredients
Breast milk is highly nutritious and concentrated. Certain ingredients in it are present in each feeding and you can’t replace many of them with baby formula. As mentioned above, you probably now know what color is breast milk in certain stages. But, it is also important to know what exactly is the cause of the colors.
- Live cells. There are millions of them in breast milk. These include stem cells and immune-boosting white blood cells. Both of these help developing organs and healing.
- Your breast milk has over 1000 proteins that help your child develop and grow. Also, they play a crucial part in activating your baby’s immune system and protect and develop neurons in its brain.
- Amino acids. Proteins in breast milk are made up of amino acids. More than 20 of these compounds are in human breast milk. Nucleotides are one of these amino acids that increase during the night. Experts suggest that your baby may sleep better due to the presence of nucleotides.
- Oligosaccharides are complex sugars. There are over 200 of them in your breast milk. They act as probiotics and deliver good bacteria to your baby’s stomach. Also, they also lower the risk of brain inflammation and prevent infections that might enter your baby’s bloodstream.
- Your breast milk has more than 40 The chemical reactions in the body are sped up due to enzymes. Enzymes in your milk help your child absorb iron and aid your baby’s immune system and digestion.
- Breast milk is full of growth factors that play an important role in your child’s development. They include many parts of your little one’s body, including its nervous system, blood vessels, intestines, and glands.
- Your breast milk has lots of them. They are basically chemicals that send messages between organs and tissues and make sure they work as they should. Some hormones are there to regulate your baby’s sleep patterns and appetite.
- Minerals and vitamins. Very important nutrients that support organ function and healthy growth. Also, they strengthen your baby’s bones and teeth.
- Also known as antibodies. Your milk has all five basic forms of antibodies – which is very important. They neutralize viruses and bacteria and protect your baby against infections and illnesses.
- Fatty acids. Your baby needs these for a healthy eye and brain development. Also, these long-chain fatty acids play an important role when it comes to nervous system development.
- MicroRNAs. There are 1400 of them in your breast milk and experts suggest that these regulate gene expression. These play a role in remodeling the breast, they support your baby’s immune system and may halt disease development.
Scientists are discovering new ingredients of breast milk every day. This long list is only a small percent of what is really in it. Depending on your baby’s needs and age, the levels of these ingredients can fluctuate over time. So, knowing what color is breast milk at a certain stage is important, but knowing the ingredients and how they act during these stages is too.
As already mentioned above, colostrum is the first milk your body will produce once your baby is born. It has the same ingredients that your breast milk will have in the future. However, the needs of your newborn are different than they would be later. This is why the amounts of the ingredients are different in colostrum.
For example, colostrum has very high amounts of white blood cells and antibodies. People sometimes refer to it as a natural vaccination due to this. Your child will be exposed after it leaves the safety of your womb. In order to protect it from diseases and infections, your body starts producing colostrum.
Your baby’s digestive system also benefits a lot from colostrum’s protective qualities. As you already know, babies are born with a permeable gut lining. The colostrum is then able to seal and coat it. This is exceptionally important for premature babies. Necrotising enterocolitis is a dangerous gut condition that usually strikes preterm babies.
Colostrum also has a high concentration of vitamins and minerals. In fact, it has higher concentration of vitamins K, E, and A than mature breast milk. Colostrum is also very rich in protein. In addition, it also helps your baby to pass its first poo, also known as meconium.
Composition of the Breast Milk After Six Months
Breastfeeding long-term is something that a lot of moms try to do. Have you wondered what color is breast milk after producing milk after a long time? Is your body able to even produce enough milk for your baby for months or even years? The evidence shows that the answer is yes!
Six months after birth, your child will have to start with solids. Your milk will still be able to make up a big part of your baby’s diet, but certain nutrients, such as iron, will have to be obtained through solid foods.
For example, your child will be able to obtain about half of her daily calorie needs through your breast milk. It is recommended to breastfeed your baby, and the evidence show that you can keep doing it for long periods of time. However, don’t overdo it because your child will eventually have to change its diet completely. You might make it harder for your baby to do so if you keep offering breast for years.
Baby Planet Overview
Breast milk color will differ due to many factors. It is usually, white or yellow, but changes in color don’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with your milk. The color may vary depending on the food you take, and if that’s the cause, there’s no reason to worry. Keep track of the color of your breast milk so you know what type of milk is your body producing at the time.
If you notice that the color of your milk is not getting back to normal after a long time don’t hesitate to contact your doctor. Usually, it is nothing serious, but don’t take any risks.
- Nutrition during lactation, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov