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The Colors of Breast Milk

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Updated July 01, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Breast milk can be a variety of colors. Most of the time it's clear, white, bluish, tan or yellow. But at some point during the course of your breastfeeding experience, you may be surprised to find that your milk can be other colors as well.

In general, human milk tends to be clear or have a bluish tint when it first starts to flow, either in the beginning of a feeding or at the start of a pumping session. This is the lower-fat foremilk. As the feeding progresses from foremilk to hindmilk, the fat content increases and the milk becomes creamier and whiter. However, certain foods, herbs, nutritional supplements and medications can change the milk's color to shades of pink, orange, red, brown, green and even black. These additives can also alter the color of your urine or your baby’s urine.

Although it might be shocking and scary to see, the changes in the color of breast milk are usually diet-related and not at all dangerous.

Green Milk

Green milk can be produced after the ingestion of green foods or foods containing green dyes. Drinking green-colored beverages, eating spinach or seaweed, and taking certain herbs or supplements can turn breast milk green.

Pink, Orange, Red, and Brown Milk

Breast milk can take on a red, pink or orange hue from foods that are naturally red, pink, and orange in color or foods that contain red, yellow and orange food dyes. Beets, orange soda, and red or orange fruit drinks can cause your milk to turn different shades of pink, red and orange.

If blood from inside your breasts leaks into your milk ducts, the milk may appear brown and rust-colored. This is called rusty pipe syndrome because the milk looks like dirty water from an old rusty pipe. Sometimes a little bit of blood from cracked nipples will get into your milk and create red or pink streaks.

A small amount of blood in the milk supply is not harmful to your baby. There is no need to stop breastfeeding. In most cases, the bleeding will go away on its own in a few days. If the issue has not resolved after a week, check with your doctor.

Black Milk

The production of black milk has been linked to the antibiotic minocycline (Minocin). Minocycline also causes darkening of the skin. The use of minocycline is not recommended while you are nursing. Always let your doctor know that you are breastfeeding before taking any medication.

Sources:

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition. Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.

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