50 Shades of Breastmilk: What Color is Your Milk?
You’ve only exclusively breastfed your baby for months and it’s almost time to go back to work so you decide it’s time to start pumping to build your breastmilk stash. You pull out your insurance-provided pump you got all those months before. It’s the first time you’ve used it. You put all the parts together, bring the flanges to your breast, and turn the pump on for the first time. The pump gets to work and you start seeing milk dripping into the cups and it’s…green!
If you’ve never pumped or seen others’ pumped milk before, it may come as a surprise to you that your milk can come in many different shades, not just white.
Throughout the cycle of breastfeeding, milk goes through stages and can come in different colors. The color even changes throughout the day. Colostrum is the first substance your baby gets from your breast and can range from clear to yellow, or even bright orange, depending on how much beta-carotene (found in carrots and other plants) in your diet. As your milk begins to come in, your milk gets thick and creamy before turning into mature milk, which ranges from a thin bluish shade to white, depending on the amount of fat in that particular feed.
What may be even more surprising is to learn that your milk can also range in shade depending on the foods that you eat, with both natural and artificial colorants, or if there is a little blood present in your milk.
Rusty Pipe Syndrome, a condition where some old blood is present in the milk may cause colostrum and transitional milk to look, as the name suggests, rusty. Fresh blood may make the milk look slightly pink. This can be caused by tiny cracks in the nipple or papillomas in the ducts. Breastfeeding individuals who have developed mastitis have even reported milk to be greenish or yellowish, due to pus in the milk. Eating licorice may cause your milk to be khaki-colored, beets pink, leafy greens and sports drinks green, and carrots orange.
The color may surprise you, especially if it is unexpected, but there is no need to pump and dump if your milk is the color is other than the typical white or creamy buttery yellow. If your baby were drinking straight from the breast, you’d never even know what color the milk was. Isn’t breastmilk amazing!