I had a scary moment after I ran my first half marathon. I was feeling really out of it when I was done — dizzy, lightheaded and weak. I hadn’t slept the night before because I was really nervous and it was a hot day. I figured that was all it was and I needed more water and a nap.
Then, I went to take a much needed pee and noticed the urine sitting in the toilet was red. I thought it was blood and that I literally only had a few hours left on this earth to live.
I was flopping around thinking of what my last meal should be when my then-husband reminded me I’d eaten a roasted beet salad the day before for lunch and dinner. I’d just discovered I liked beets if they were caramelized, buttery, salty, and paired with roasted walnuts and melted goat cheese.
However, since I’d gone my whole life thinking beets were disgusting, I had no idea they could turn my pee and poop a reddish purple color that would make me think my insides were coming out. If someone had told me this beforehand, it would have saved a lot of wild thoughts running through my head.
Did you know the same thing can happen to your breast milk? As a mother who was pregnant and nursing a child for about four years straight, I can tell you I’ve seen some stuff.
People assume the colors of breast milk are going to resemble the cow’s milk in the cartons you buy at the store, but that’s just not true.
With my first child, my nipples were so cracked and sore, I’d bleed every time I fed him or nursed him which resulted in pinkish breast milk. It was alarming to say the least, but a quick call to my doctor helped me figure out it was a little bit of blood and it would hopefully clear up in a few weeks, which it did.
By the time I had my third child, I thought I was an expert at breastfeeding. But with him, I noticed my milk was a dark yellow every time he ate and the milk (and his breath) would smell like pancake batter or vanilla frosting. He was a big eater and would shake and cry as soon as he got hungry (which was all the time). It was a noticeably different color than when I fed my two older kids, so I asked my pediatrician, and she said I was just producing sweeter, thicker milk since that’s what he needed.
Who knew your boobie cream could be almost every color of the rainbow? It’s something that new breastfeeding mothers should know. No one wants to wake up one morning to feed their baby and see green-tinted breast milk squirting without knowing its cause. (It’s usually something green you ate!)
Healthline explains you can see every color of breast milk from white to black, and you should actually expect a certain amount of changes as you nurse your baby.
Everything from diet, medications, and vitamins to where you are in your breastfeeding journey are contributing factors. For example, when you eat orange foods that are rich in beta carotene such as carrots or sweet potatoes, your milk may be more yellowish/orange. But, having lots of orange soda can do the same thing, because artificial food dyes may be able to come through in your milk too.
It’s also very normal for your milk to have a gray or bluish hue when you first start nursing and pumping; this is called foremilk. According to VeryWell Family, its thinner, less-rich consistency is what can make it look “clear or bluish.” The richer, higher-fat hindmilk, which comes later in the feeding, will be white or yellowish.
Getting more greens in your diet can tint your breast milk too. “If your breast milk has a green tint, it’s likely because you’ve been loading up on lots of green veggies like spinach, seaweed, and kale,” an article for Medela explains.
What To Expect reports that pink or brownish milk typically means there is blood in your supply from cracked nipples, but that sometimes “blood-tinged milk could be caused by an underlying health problem.”
So it’s best to call your doctor with any concerns if anything feels off or you have a question. For real: if you have any questions or concerns about the color of your breast milk, make sure to contact your doctor ASAP.
Healthline explains you should always talk with your healthcare provider and let them know you are breastfeeding before you take any medication. Keep in mind that if you are taking something, it can change the color of your milk. The topical acne drug minocycline, for example, while not harmful to your baby, has been known to cause breast milk to turn black.
Bodily fluids can be weird, and breast milk is no exception – it’s just that we worry about it more because that’s what our babies are eating. But part of what makes it strange also makes it wonderful, because we can see our bodies’ processes in action. Go into breastfeeding knowing that your milk supply and color is going to change, and you’ll be much more confident in knowing what’s normal and when something is a cause for concern.