Things that Affect the Color of Breast Milk

October 10, 2017

Have you ever noticed that your pumped breast milk looks a little different from one day to another? You’re not crazy! In fact, it’s totally normal for your breast milk to vary in color day-to-day, and even be tinged with various colors like blue, green, or pink. So, what causes this?

A lot of it has to do with the foods you’re eating. Certain foods, herbs, medications, and dyes (think neon green Gatorade!) can change the color of your breast milk. And while it can be strange, it’s usually completely harmless. Read on to see what might be turning your breast milk into a rainbow of colors.

Blue or Clear

Usually blueish or clear, watery breast milk is indicative of “foremilk.” Foremilk is the first milk that flows at the start of a pumping (or nursing) session and is thinner and lower in fat than the creamier, whiter milk you see at the end of a session.

Yellow

There are several reasons you might see breast milk with a yellow hue.

  • You just started breastfeeding. Colostrum, which is the highly-concentrated and nutritious first milk your body makes after giving birth, is often thick and yellow in color.
  • You’re getting your share of beta-carotene. Vegetables like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes are high in this vitamin, and may color your breast milk slightly yellow or orange.
  • Your breast milk is frozen. Sometimes freezing breast milk can turn it slightly yellow.

Green

Have you been knocking back a lot of green smoothies? If your breast milk has a green tint, it’s likely because you’ve been loading up on lots of green veggies like spinach, seaweed, and kale. Oh, and that green Gatorade (or other food dyes) can play a role, too.

Pink, Red, or Rust

If you’re pumping pink, red, or rust-tinged breast milk, it could be caused by a couple of things:

  • Again, you may have consumed food or drinks that are naturally red or pink, like beets, or made with artificial dyes, like orange soda or red Jell-O.
  • You may have a small amount of blood in your breast milk. Don’t panic! Having blood in your breast milk is typically caused by a rupture in a blood capillary or cracked nipples, and is not harmful to your baby. In most cases, the bleeding will go away on its own in a few days. But be sure to keep an eye on it and call your doctor if you have any concerns, or if there’s more than trace amounts of blood in your breast milk. If the bleeding doesn’t go away in a couple of days, or if it is more than a trace amount, call your health provider.

Black

Pumping black breast milk can be shocking, to say the least. But If you have chocolate-brown or blackish milk, it’s most likely due to some residual blood or it could possibly be due to a medication. Always talk to your health care provider about any herbs or medications you’re taking to make sure they’re safe while breastfeeding.

While it’s always a little strange to see oddly-colored breast milk, remember that the cause is often just something you ate. So try not to stress out and instead, focus on the amazing thing you’re doing for your baby.

Did you experience color-changing breast milk? Share in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “Things that Affect the Color of Breast Milk

  1. After pumping my milk is white and creamy looking and turns clearish blue after refrigeration. I pump until nothing comes out. How do I get hind milk or am I already getting hind milk?

    • Hi, TJ. We recommend you reach out to a Lactation Consultant with your question so they can give you personalized feedback. You can contact our International Board Certified Lactation Consultant directly through AskTheLC.com, or through a 24/7 LC subscription on your MyMedela app.

    • Hi! Milk color may change depending on yours diet. Visual color differences may also be due to the fats (lipids) that separate when milk has been frozen. Human milk is not homogenized and may have different layers of colors. Usually, different colored breast milk doesn’t present a problem but you can always consult with a lactation professional if you has concerns or questions. We hope this helps!

  2. I had just gotten done eating watermelon, then decided to pump. While pumping, I noticed that one side was a darker shade than the other side. At the end of pumping, the darker side had a pinkish color at the bottom. I questioned if it might’ve been from the watermelon…but it was only minutes after consuming it. How fast does food we consume have an affect our milk production?

    • Hi, Koko! Breast milk does change colors depending on what foods mom consumes. You may notice their milk color reflects dark colored foods (for example, eating a lot of dark leafy green foods may milk take a hue of green). The time it takes for nutrients to enter breast milk depends on several factors including metabolism, body chemistry, the frequency of nursing sessions, and the type of food. It can take anywhere from 1 to 24 hours, but the average is four to six hours. We hope this helps!

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