Blood in breast milk looks scary and alarming, though it is pretty common for the first-time breastfeeding mothers. In most cases, it will not harm your baby, but you should consider it seriously if it does not go in a few days.
Should the Breast Milk be always White?
If you often pump your breast milk, you probably noticed that color of it is not always clear white, as you may have thought.
Your breast milk can be any shade of white from bluish to yellowish, sometimes pinky, red or brownish. And it can be changing from time to time.
Breast milk quality depends on what you eat and drink, and its color actually too. When you eat a lot of fatty foods, your breast milk will be more fatty and more of the yellow color. If you just had some beets or red fruit on the previous day, it will more likely take red tinges from them too.
Anyway, these fluctuations of color should not bother you, as it will change next time again.
Blood will definitely add its color to your milk. When you see blood drops in it, there are several reasons, and you should know them.
How Blood Appears in my Breast Milk?
When you noticed that you breast milk is tinged red or brown, and you did not eat any red foods, then it is most possible that this is your blood that colors it.
You can see some drops of blood when you squeeze your nipples, especially when you just started to breastfeed, and they probably hurt. You can also see some blood while you are pumping, or when your baby spits up, or in its stool.
It may look scary but it happens quite often during breastfeeding and usually it is not a serious medical problem.
What Makes my Breast Bleeding?
Breastfeeding is a very delicate and complicated process and you need to have patience and some training to do it properly. Otherwise you may have unpleasant issues with breastfeeding, starting from the first weeks of your happy parenthood: cracked nipples, damaged breast capillaries, mastitis, ingrowing papillomas and even breast cancer. Any of these issues can be followed by some bleeding.
How can I Protect my Nipples from Cracking?
- When your baby does not latch properly, you may get your nipples damaged with cracks, blisters or even cuts. They may expose some blood into your early breast milk or colostrum.
- You should check with a lactation consultant or via YouTube how to latch correctly.
- Continue breastfeeding to always empty your breasts, be gentle to them and always follow hygiene rules.
- You can treat your nipples after each feeding with a cream to soothe, heal and protect them from further cracking.
What is Rusty Pipe Syndrome?
Normally, when your milk starts coming, your breasts are swollen and you may feel like they are going to burst. More blood is flowing to them and some can seep into your milk ducts mixing with your first milk and making it look brownish or rusty. It is called Rusty Pipe Syndrome for first-time moms and usually goes away in a few days.
If you do not use your breast pump correctly, it may damage breast capillaries (small blood vessels) and blood will leak into your breast milk as well.
If your baby does not show any sickness from getting your blood with the milk, continue breastfeeding.
Is it Possible to Avoid Mastitis?
Mastitis is a serious breast infection with fever, pain, blood and swelling. It can happen till the baby becomes three months old.
Bacteria usually gets into the milk duct from the baby's mouth through your nipple.
It can often happen when you do not follow hygiene rules and more likely when your breast catches cold. You need to keep your breasts reasonably dry, clean and warm even if you are dying from the heat.
Mind that mastitis is very serious and can be only treated with antibiotics, so go to the doctor as soon as you get high fever.
Is it Possible to Breastfeed without Pain?
- To ease pain from swollen breasts and help them produce enough milk for your baby, you can feed your baby more often and give one side at a time.
- Never wait until your baby gets hungry, then your baby will be not very aggressive.
- While breastfeeding your baby, sides of your breasts from the armpits, do not empty naturally. Gently massage your breasts while feeding, pushing milk down from the sides to your nipples.
- Cover your nipples with breast pads to keep them dry.
- Always empty each breast until it becomes soft.
- Avoid cold winds and always keep your breasts covered.
- If the baby is weak or lazy to do the job, or if there is more milk than it needs, use a pump. Also, drink less liquid and do not forget about more rest for yourself.
As a student-mom, I always left my newborn with enough supplies of breast milk for the whole day. I tried several pumps and the most efficient really was Medela Pump Double Electric Breast Pump.
Cancerous or not Cancerous Growth - Only Doctor can Decide!
Sometimes bleeding can come without pain and no damage to the nipple. It can be caused by the intraductal papilloma - a small not cancerous growth in the breast. It can grow inside and break your milk duct with a bloody discharge from your nipple.
If the blood in your breast milk or bleeding from your nipples do not go away in a week, you should contact your doctor. Doctor will do necessary tests as some forms of breast cancer can also cause bleeding from the nipples.
Can I Breastfeed my Baby with Blood in my Milk?
Usually small amounts of blood in your breast milk or from your nipples will not be harmful for the baby. If he is nursing well and does not show any signs of sickness or discomfort, you can continue to breastfeed.
But there can be an issue as blood can change the taste of your milk and the baby may not like it.
The bleeding should stop within a week on its own. If it doesn't, you should visit your doctor. However, if you have Hepatitis B or C or any other infection that can be transmitted through the blood, it can be fine to breastfeed ONLY in the absence of blood. Stop giving your milk with blood to the baby.
Usually blood in the breast milk is not an excuse to stop breastfeeding. In most cases, blood will go within a week but babies getting mom’s milk are gaining more rapidly than others. You should not also forget to care about yourself to fully enjoy your parenthood.