If breast pumping or expressing milk, you may occasionally notice that your milk is not always white. While this can be confusing or even upsetting to some, it is actually quite normal to see different color variations, and rarely is it cause for concern for baby ingesting or an indication of something wrong.
Gold or Yellow Breast Milk
Colostrum is the first milk the mother makes, available upon birth of the baby. For this reason, it is much thicker and loaded in immune developing components designed for a newborn, which gives it a golden color. Hence the nickname for breastmilk: Liquid Gold.
The winter and holiday seasons are a great opportunity to remind breastfeeding mothers about immune-boosting antibodies in the breast milk supply that will carry their babies throughout all of the family and social gatherings. Milk composition in terms of these immune factors update in real time, and when a nursing child is sick and actively fighting off something, can be visualized if pumped or expressed. The milk will change to slightly yellow, dark yellow, or golden, almost as if reverting back to colostrum from the first days postpartum.
Orange Breast Milk
Milk transitioning from colostrum to mature milk will sometimes have an orange hue up to 14 days postpartum. Diets high in beta-carotene, like carrots and sweet potatoes, may also attribute this color change.
Clear or Blue Breast Milk
Milk composition in terms of macronutrients vary slightly throughout the day, having more volume in the early morning, and gradually more fat content as the day progresses. The morning milk, along with foremilk, the first amount of milk ejected during a feed, can be clear or light blue in appearance. This can also be seen if milk is left to sit and separate.
White or Creamy Breast Milk
The color most think of in regard to milk. This is the color of mature, fully-transitioned milk. Fat is emulsified, or mixed in, with the other macronutrients.
Green Breast Milk
In a recent study, blue green algae supplements, commonly used by vegans and vegetarians, were found to tint breast milk a blue-green color. No known side effects were found.
Pink or Brown Breast Milk
This may be caused by one of several factors. Artificial food dyes or potent natural food coloring, such as beets, can alter the color of breas tmilk. Pink, brown or rust may also be a sign of blood, which is still safe to ingest, but warrants investigating. Blood could be from increased blood vessel use in the breast tissue, cracked nipples, or on the rare occasion, breast cancer.
Black Breast Milk
Medications like minocin (minocycline), safe to take for short periods while nursing, can make milk appear black.
National Institute of Health, LactMed
About the Author
Ashley Georgakopoulos is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) that specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding and an expert in the field of lactation. Ashley is from Knoxville, TN, and is a mother who has dealt with the obstacles and joys of breastfeeding. As the owner of Genesis Lactation, she educates families, connects them to resources, and helps the next generation be as healthy as possible: nutritionally and sustainably.