Breast Milk Color and How It Changes

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

breast milk colors
© Verywell, 2017

The color of breast milk is usually yellow, white, clear, cream, tan, or blue-tinged. However, at some point during your breastfeeding experience, you may be surprised to find that your breast milk can be other colors as well. Depending on what you eat or drink, your breast milk may look as though it has a green, pink, or red tint. Sometimes, a little bit of blood may even make it's way into breast milk giving it a brown or rust color.

You may notice that the color of your breast milk changes over time. But, It can also change during the course of a day or even within the same feeding. It may get you wondering what color breast milk should be and what's normal? Here is what you need to know about the colors of breast milk and what they mean. 

Breast Milk Color Changes By Stage

During the first few weeks after you have your baby, your breast milk changes quickly. Not only in composition and amount, but also in color. So, what color is breast milk? Here are the normal changes in breast milk color by stage. 

Colostrum: Colostrum is the first breast milk that your body makes. You only make a small amount of colostrum, but it's concentrated and highly nutritious. While colostrum is sometimes clear, thin, and watery, it's more often yellow or orange and thick. The high levels of beta-carotene in colostrum give it its dark yellow or orange color.

Transitional Milk: After the first few days of colostrum, the production of breast milk increases and your body begins to make transitional milk. During this two week transition period, the color of breast milk typically changes from yellow to white as your milk comes in. 

Mature Milk: After about two weeks, your body reaches the mature milk stage. Mature breast milk changes in appearance based on how much fat it contains

  • Foremilk: In general, when the mature milk begins to flow out of your breast at the beginning of a feeding or pumping session, it is thinner and lower in fat. This milk is called the foremilk. Since foremilk is thin, it tends to look clear or bluish.
  • Hindmilk: As you continue to pump or breastfeed, the fat content in your milk goes up. As the fat increases, breast milk turns into creamier milk called hindmilk. Hindmilk has a thicker white or yellow appearance. 

Other Colors of Breast Milk and What They Mean

Certain foods, herbs, nutritional supplements, and medications can change the color of your breast milk. These additives can also affect the color of your urine and 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. Here are some of the different colors of breast milk. 

  • Green Breast Milk: You may notice a green tone to your breast milk after you eat green foods or foods that contain green dyes. Your breast milk might take on a greenish color if you drink green-colored beverages like Gatorade, eat a good amount of green vegetables, such as spinach or seaweed, or add certain herbs or vitamin supplements to your diet.
  • Pink, Orange, and Red Breast Milk: You may notice pink, orange, 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.
  • Brown, Rust-Colored, and Blood-Tinged Breast Milk: If blood from inside your breasts leaks into your milk ducts, your breast milk may look brown, dark orange, or 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 milk if you have cracked nipples. It may look like red or pink streaks. Don't panic. You do not have to throw away your breast milk or stop breastfeeding. A little bit of blood in your breast milk will not harm your child. 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 breast 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 that you always let your doctor know you're breastfeeding before taking any medication.

Stored Breast Milk

When you pump and store breast milk, it can change a little bit. In the refrigerator, breast milk may separate into layers. There may be a thick, white or yellow creamy layer on top, and a thinner clear or blue-tinted layer on the bottom. You don't have to worry. It's normal, and it doesn't mean the milk went bad. It's just that when it sits, the fat rises to the top. When you're ready to use it, you just have to mix the layers by gently swirling the bottle. Breast milk can also change color in the freezer. Frozen breast milk may look more yellow.   

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 your breast milk, you should feel comfortable contacting your healthcare 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.

A Word From Verywell

Most breastfeeding moms don't notice the slight variations in the color of their breast milk unless they pump often or their baby spits up a little breast milk with a hint of color. If this is your first experience with breastfeeding, changes in your breast milk may alarm you. Certainly, noticing your milk has turned green or orange or seeing a bit of blood in it can make you wonder if it is still healthy for your baby. Knowing the reason behind the color change and understanding that it's a common occurrence that's usually not dangerous can be reassuring.

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