Why Is My Breast Milk Green?
“Help! I pumped tonight and when I went to bag the milk I noticed my breast milk is green. I’m kind of freaked out. Is this normal?? Should I dump it?!”
That’s a real question I got from a mom recently. Actually, it’s a question I get a lot. Sometimes the color in question varies, but inevitably everybody wants to know one thing:
Why Is My Breast Milk Green?
I assure you, it’s not leprechaun trickery. That liquid gold you pumped really can be green!
In fact, breast milk can be a variety of colors including yellow, blue, orange, and – yes – green! Be comforted by the fact that any of these colors is 100% normal. If you’re directly nursing your baby, the color of your breast milk will still vary from day to day and even feed to feed. You just don’t have a way to see this magical spectrum like you do when you pump.
Breast Milk Changes Colors
When your baby is first born, and even during pregnancy, your body produces colostrum. This thick, sticky yellow-gold substance is the first breast milk you produce. It’s power packed with calories and nutrients for your baby’s tiny tummy. As your body transitions from colostrum to mature milk, the color will gradually change from yellow to white.
Within each feeding, there’s also a transition. At the beginning of a breastfeeding or pumping session, the milk tends to be watery and thin. It is common to have a blue tint to it. The end of a feed will yield thicker, fattier milk which is often a yellow hue. If you’ve got a strong mix of the two, then it may naturally result in a green colored milk. The balance of this foremilk and hindmilk has a wide variance throughout each day. This is also perfectly normal!
Why Else Is My Breast Milk Green?
Breast milk is meant to meet the changing needs of your baby. It takes on ever-changing nutritional composition tailored for your little one, in some small part based on what you’re consuming. Logic follows then that any color of your breast milk is usually attributable to diet. Food dyes are a top contributor to funny colored breast milk, but even consuming large quantities of naturally green food can give your milk a hint of green.
One client of mine had purple breast milk after drinking red and blue Gatorade throughout the day. Another had bright orange milk after eating an entire family size bag of Takis (Hey – don’t judge. Some days, adulting is harder than others and you know it!).
Herbs, supplements, vitamins, and some medications may also change the color of your breast milk.
Colors That May Be Concerning
Pink milk is sometimes a result of small droplets of blood mixing with milk due to cracked nipples. This milk is safe to feed to your baby, but you should definitely reach out to a lactation professional to resolve the nipple damage and its root cause. However, pink milk can also be the result of consuming lots of red vegetables, especially beets (side note: this can also make your baby’s poop red-tinged, which is sometimes mistaken as blood).
If blood is coming from inside your breasts, it might make your milk brown and/or rust-colored. This would be a reason to contact your doctor.
Black breast milk is the result of certain medications. While a vast number of medications are safe for breastfeeding, there are some that are contraindicated, so always let your doctor know that you’re breastfeeding, and if in doubt about the safety of a medication, you can contact the leading source of breast milk and medication safety, Dr. Hale’s Infant Risk Center.
What To Do With Green Breast Milk
Exactly what your breasts do with it – feed your baby!
When to Call the Doctor
Most times, a change in the color of your breast milk is no big deal. However, if at any point you have concern or doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to your OB/GYN, midwife, primary care physician, or trusted lactation professional. They will be able to evaluate the situation and provide guidance.
So if you’re enjoying a green beer in honor of St. Paddy’s Day, have a giggle that your baby just may be enjoying a green treat of their own, too!
Tags: breast milk colors, breast pump, breastfeeding, breastfeeding help, green, green breast milk, holiday, pumped milk, pumping, st. paddy's day