Breast milk is magical.
In addition to keeping your baby happy and healthy, it can change color over time.
Often, the change in color will happen as:
- Your baby develops. Milk changes color at different stages after birth.
- The components in the milk change.
- A result of your diet, including medication you might be taking.
What Makes Up Breast Milk?
Breast milk comes with a lot of goodies, such as:
- Living Cells. Breast milk is rich in immune-boosting white blood cells and stems cells. These help your baby’s organs develop and heal.
- Proteins. The proteins available in breast milk help your baby grow. They also activate the child’s immune system and boost neuron development. This helps protect the growing brain.
- Amino Acids. Breast milk contains more than 20 amino acids. Their production increases at night and they help induce sleep.
- Complex Sugars. The complex sugars take on the role of prebiotics, helping protect your baby’s gut. They also reduce the risk of infections entering the bloodstream. Sugars further protect the brain against inflammation.
- Enzymes. Enzymes help speed up chemical reactions in the body. The enzymes present in breast milk help with digestion. They increase the body’s iron absorption rate and protect the baby’s immune system.
- Growth Factors. These help different parts of the body. They play a role in the development of intestines, blood vessels, glands, and neurons.
- Hormones. Breast milk provides a baby with many of the hormones needed in the early stages of life. Hormones help the body send messages between tissues and organs. They help regulate appetite and control sleep patterns.
- Vitamins and Minerals. These are the nutrients needed to support healthy growth and organ function. They also help in the growth of the baby’s bones and teeth.
- Antibodies. Breast milk contains the five basic antibodies needed to stay healthy. They keep your baby healthy by neutralizing disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
- Fatty Acids. Fatty acids play a role in building the nervous system. They help in healthy brain and eye development.
- MicroRNAs. MicroRNAs present in breast milk help regulate gene expressions. They also reduce the risk of disease development and boost the baby’s immune system.
If this sounds like a lot, there is more. Scientists believe there are more undiscovered components in breastmilk.
The Different Types of Breastmilk
The quantities of each component will change over time. Most of the changes will affect the color and consistency of your milk at different stages.
Before calling the doctor (for the 67th time), here are a few things to help you know what to expect.
Immediately After Birth
Colostrum, the first milk you will produce, is thick, sticky, and yellow or orange in color.
Many people call it ‘liquid gold’ for its color and its benefits for the child.
It contains many of the nutrients your baby will need to survive the first few weeks after birth.
The benefits of colostrum come with strong scientific backing.
At first, you will only produce small amounts of colostrum (1.4 to 1.8 fl oz).
The small quantity is enough to fill up your baby’s marble size stomach. As your baby’s stomach grows by the day, you will continue to produce more milk.
Colostrum is rich in antibodies and living cells.
First Few Weeks
On the third or fourth day, milk production will increase. You may start to notice your breasts get fuller and firmer.
Your baby’s consumption will also increase. Often, this will change by a few ounces every day from the fifth day.
At this stage, the color and consistency of your milk will also change.
The milk you produce from the fourth to the fourteenth day will:
- Be creamy in texture.
- Lose the yellowish tint and become creamy or white-ish.
- Have a higher fat, calorie, and lactose content.
The high calories and lactose (sugar) in this milk boost your baby’s growth.
Increased consumption at this stage is crucial for rapid growth and weight gain.
At around two weeks, the color and texture will stabilize for another few weeks.
Breast Milk at 4 Weeks
At four weeks, the milk is now fully mature.
It contains all the components above in proportionate amounts. This ensures your baby gets a healthy diet at every feeding.
In the fourth week, the composition of the milk becomes quite consistent.
Nonetheless, the look and feel might change from feed to feed.
Often, the change happens to help protect your baby.
If you or your baby fall sick, your breasts will produce more antibodies to protect the child. The same happens once your baby starts moving and putting things in their mouth.
The increase in antibody content in the milk might make your milk thicker and give it a yellowish hue.
Breast Milk at 6 Months and Beyond
After the first three months, your milk production and consistency will ‘normalize’. This means you will not experience extreme changes in color or consistency.
By the time you get to 6-months, you can often expect what type of milk you will produce at different times of the day.
The quantity of milk you produce at this stage can change as your baby’s feeding habits change.
The Difference in Milk Consistency While Breastfeeding: Foremilk vs. Hindmilk
While breastfeeding, you will notice different consistencies in the same feed or day.
Sometimes, the first milk you produce, foremilk will be ‘watery’. Towards the end of the feed, the consistency might change to hindmilk. This is creamier and thicker.
Often, this changes depending on the fat content in the milk. As you continue to feed, the milk thickens as it moves through the breast.
Often, the change is gradual and you may not even notice it happening.
Both types of milk contain the necessary amount of vitamins, proteins, and minerals.
The different consistency does not affect the amount of fat your child gets. Within a 24-hour feeding cycle, your child will get the right amount of fat needed.
Different Milk Color and Breast Milk Abnormalities: What Should You Look Out For?
One of the most noticeable changes in breast milk is in color. Some common colors you will notice include:
Your milk turns white-ish after you stop producing colostrum.
The transition is different for everyone.
The milk starts from a dark yellow color to a yellow color and eventually becomes white.
At the start of a feed, the foremilk may have a bluish hue.
This is often due to the low-fat content and high electrolyte content in the milk.
As the fat content increases, the milk gets thicker and creamier. After a while, it may turn white.
Green or Reddish Milk
Your milk may turn green, pinkish, or reddish if your diet changes.
If you are eating a lot of pigmented fruits and vegetables, they might affect the color of your milk. This will often normalize after a short period of time.
Some medications might change the color of your milk to dark brown or black.
If you receive prescription drugs, let your doctor know you’re breastfeeding. Often, the will change the medication.
If they cannot change the medicine, they will advise you on how it might affect your milk.
Blood in Breastmilk and When to Call Your Doctor
If you’re not eating any red-colored foods, blood in the milk can affect the hue of the milk.
In some cases, this is not a cause for alarm.
Blood can appear in the milk if:
- You have cracked bleeding nipples.
- You have a broken capillary inside your milk production system.
In both cases, your body will heal itself. You can continue pumping or breastfeeding without worrying.
If the reddish pinkish hue persists after a few days, you need to call your healthcare provider. It can be a sign of an infection.
Breast Milk and Clothing Choices
Breast milk will affect your clothing choices.
As milk production changes over time, you need a nursing bra designed for nursing moms.
The New Bloom Everyday Maternity Nursing bra is perfect for this stage in your life. It is:
- Machine-washable making it easy to clean if you experience milk leaks or stains.
- Fitted with removable padding to protect against breast milk leaks.
- Adjustable to change in size as your breasts get fuller.
If you’re ready for a different experience, try the New Bloom Everyday Maternity Nursing bra today. You can order from the comfort of your home.
Feature Image: Yanalya