Jo Johnson Overby was shocked when about six weeks into breastfeeding, she noticed her breastmilk had a pink tint.
She asked her husband his thoughts before calling her sister who works as a pediatric nurse.
“Nobody told me that whenever I had a baby, that if I chose to breastfeed, my milk would come in an array of colors,” she said in a now-viral video that has been viewed by over 12.6 million equally curious eyes.
“Exhibit A. The color you’d expect, right?” she said in the video while holding up a bag of white breastmilk before switching to another bag she jokingly described as strawberry milk. “Exhibit B. And why is it pink? It’s blood. Baby can drink it though. So, it’s up to you whether you do it or not.
OBGYN and reproductive endocrinology and infertility fellow Dr. Emily Jacobs had a perfect explanation for this.
“The most common reason for blood-tinged breastmilk is damaged nipples from breastfeeding, like cracks or blisters. It is OK, and preferable, to continue breastfeeding in this situation, so as not to get clogged ducts,” she continued. “Individuals may try icing [their] nipples in between sessions and applying nipple cream after feeds.”
“Alternatively, blood-tinged breast milk may be a sign of a breast infection called mastitis. This is typically accompanied by a red, painful breast and flu-like symptoms, including high fever and myalgia,” she told BuzzFeed.
“If someone is concerned they may have mastitis, they should call their doctor, as they may need antibiotics.”
“Lastly, [and] very rarely, blood-tinged breastmilk may be a sign of a more serious problem, like breast cancer. If the bleeding hasn’t gone away on its own in about a week, or if the bleeding is associated with breast changes like nipple retraction, skin dimpling, or other skin changes around the breast, then you should seek evaluation by a doctor.”
“It is normal to see the color of breastmilk change over time, especially in the first couple of weeks after birth. Colostrum, which is the first milk made during pregnancy and just after birth, is thick and yellow to orange. Mature milk is generally more white, similar to cow’s milk. Green or brown-tinged milk may be a sign of a breast infection, like mastitis, as sometimes the nipple from the infected breast can make a purulent discharge.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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