Have you pumped red, green, orange, or even purple breastmilk? Here’s what’s behind all these different breastmilk colors! Plus, whether it’s safe to feed this milk to your baby.
What Different Colors Can Breastmilk Turn?
While breastmilk is usually white or light yellow, you can pump milk that is any color of the rainbow! Below are photos of different colored breastmilk and reasons why the color may change.
The most common cause of red breastmilk is a cracked or damaged nipple, causing blood to flow into the bottle along with your breastmilk. This can happen if you have the wrong size breast shields, or if you and your baby are struggling with latch.
It’s safe to feed breastmilk with blood in it to your baby, though it may upset your baby’s stomach a bit.
The one concern with red breastmilk is that it can also be caused by a bacteria called Serratia marsescens – if you’re not sure that your red breastmilk was caused by blood (for example, if you don’t see any damage or if the color changes hours after you pump it), you should clear the milk with your pediatrician before feeding.
Eating food with red dye can also cause breastmilk to turn red.
All of the above things can also cause pink breastmilk when present to a lesser degree.
Early on, in the first week or so postpartum, breastmilk tends to be a darker yellow or even orange. Then, breastmilk transitions into “mature” milk, which tends to be lighter.
The below photo shows transitional early milk compared to milk pumped a few weeks later:
Beta carotene is an orange pigment that’s found in many fresh vegetables and fruits. Eating foods high in beta carotene (such as carrots or sweet potatoes) may also cause orangish breastmilk.
The most common thing that causes green breastmilk is eating green food. Eating a lot of green vegetables such as kale or spinach, or consuming green food dye can turn your pumped milk green.
Blue breastmilk can be very common, especially when breastmilk separates. The milk that you pump at the beginning of a pumping session (also called foremilk) tends to be watery and can be bluish in color, while milk pumped later in a session (called hindmilk) tends to be creamier and thicker.
A few different things can cause purple breastmilk! Eating food dyes or naturally purple foods (like blackberries) can be one cause.
Topical gentian violet to treat thrush may also turn your breast milk purple.
Brown breastmilk may be caused by residual blood in your breasts. (One exclusive pumper in our Facebook group showed the below photo to her doctor, who thought this was the cause and referred to this as “rusty pipes.” The next time she pumped, her milk was a more normal color.)
Certain medications might also cause breastmilk to turn brown.
Is Different Colored Breastmilk Safe to Give to Your Baby?
In most cases, with the exception of the breastmilk that may turn pink or red as a result of bacteria as mentioned above, different colored breastmilk is usually the result of something that you ate and safe to feed to your baby. However, always talk to your pediatrician with any concerns.
Have you pumped unusual breastmilk colors? Tell us about it in the comments!
- Medela. “Things That Affect The Color Of Breast Milk.” https://www.medela.us/breastfeeding/articles/things-that-affect-the-color-of-breast-milk
- Medical News Today. “All you need to know about beta carotene.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252758
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