What's making my milk that strange color?
Because many of us don't look closely at many samples of human milk, we do not often get a chance to see the variety of colors it can come in. Ingredients in many foods and beverages that mothers ingest can tinge their milk in a variety of ways. For example, a mother whose diet is high in pureed or mashed yellow vegetables (yams, squash, carrots) will have carotene in her milk, which can turn it yellow or orange. The carotene is completely harmless to babies (see our FAQ on carotenemia). A La Leche League Leader who also volunteers at a milk bank reported that the workers could always tell which mothers had been drinking orange or green sports drinks by the colorful milk they brought in.
Here is more information on human milk colors, from Common Concerns when Storing Human Milk, from NEW BEGINNINGS:
"Food dyes used in carbonated sodas, fruit drinks, and gelatin desserts have been associated with milk that is pink or pinkish orange. Greenish milk has been linked to consuming green- colored sports beverages, seaweed, or large amounts of green vegetables. One woman consuming a certain prescription medication reported black milk. Frozen milk may look yellowish.
"Pinkish milk may indicate blood in the milk. This could occur with or without cracked nipples. If cracked nipples are the cause of blood in the milk, a mother can contact a La Leche League Leader for suggestions on healing sore nipples. Blood in milk is not harmful to babies, and breastfeeding can continue. If blood in the milk does not cease by two weeks postpartum, the mother may wish to consult with her health care provider."
On the LLLI Web site:
- Common Concerns when Storing Human Milk, by Cindy Scott Duke, NEW BEGINNINGS , vol. 15, no. 4, July-August 1998, p.109.
- The maturation index of colostrum and milk (MICAM): a measure of breast milk maturation. SS Humenick, D Mederios, TB Wreschner, MB Walton, PD Hill. Journal of Nursing Measurement 1994; 2(2):169-186
If you have additional concerns, please contact your local LLL Leader. To find a Group near you, call 1-800-LALECHE, look at our LLL Web Page Index or follow the hints in our page on finding a local LLL Leader.
For additional information on parenting options, you may want to purchase our comprehensive book, THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING. It is offered for sale by most LLL Groups and through the LLLI Online Store.
Our FAQs present information from La Leche League International on topics of interest to parents of breastfed children. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise. If you have a serious breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. Please consult health care professionals on any medical issue, as La Leche League Leaders are not medical practitioners.