Breastfeeding is natural, fulfilling and a great way to boost a baby’s immune system. Some women can’t breastfeed, but those that do will quickly find out that there is no instruction booklet included. For the most part, this is a natural and intuitive part of being a mother.
And while it’s a great experience, it’s quickly tarnished when you find blood in breast milk.
Don’t worry, we’re going to discuss a few questions about blood in your breast milk and hopefully ease your fears in the process.
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5 Questions About Blood in Breast Milk
Yes and no. Most women will experience blood in breast milk a few times during their transition into motherhood. And there’s nothing wrong with a little blood in milk. You may even find bleeding when pumping breast milk, which is often caused by improper use.
But if you’ve had blood in your milk for over a week, it’s time to consult with a medical professional.
There’s a good chance that the issue will subside on its own, but there is a small risk that you may have a more serious issue, mainly breast cancer.
2. What Causes Blood in Breast Milk?
Blood in breast milk can be caused by something as simple as cracked nipples. A baby that’s feeding too intensely may cause a woman’s nipples to become sensitive and cracks – and this can lead to slight blood, too.
The good news is that cracked nipples will heal.
There are other causes, too:
- Rusty Pipe Syndrome: We’re not talking about plumbing, despite the odd name. Rusty pipe syndrome occurs during the first week after having a baby. This is a tainted color of breast milk, and it looks rusty. Blood seeps into the milk ducts in the breast, and this actually occurs when the breasts enlarge.
- Mastitis: This is an infection of the breast, which is often accompanied by fever, swelling and pain– not fun.
- Broken Capillaries: Blood vessels, or capillaries, in the breast can break. When damaged, these capillaries leak into the breast milk. If you see blood while pumping breast milk, this is likely the cause.
There’s also the chance that you have breast cancer or benign intraductal papilloma which is causing your milk to be tainted?
3. Is Blood in Breast Milk Safe for the Baby?
Yes. Your baby will eat the breast milk like normal even if there is blood in it. But you also want to view your baby’s behavior at this time. If there is a slight amount of blood, it won’t be much of an issue and will likely be drank without a second thought given by the baby.
The issue occurs when the milk is heavily tainted by blood.
A few signs that there is too much blood in the milk are:
- The baby refuses to drink the milk.
- The baby vomits after drinking.
If you have any of these issues, the milk is too tainted with blood. You’ll want to stop breastfeeding or using your milk pump at this time and switch to baby formula until the issue subsides. Again, if you have blood that’s heavy and won’t go away, you’ll want to consult with a medical professional who can provide further guidance.
A baby that continues to nurse and has no other issues with the blood in the breast milk is fine to continue feeding.
4. Why Is My Breast Milk Pink?
Pink breast milk is a sign of a small amount of blood in the breast milk. Most women will find that rusty pipe syndrome will produce pink breast milk, so if you’ve just given birth recently, this is the likely cause of the milk being pink.
Cracked nipples can lead to pink streaks of blood in the baby’s milk.
The good news is that a pink color means that there is a minimal amount of blood that made its way into the milk. You’ll find that pink breast milk will often go away on its own without needing to call a doctor or worry that a larger problem is at hand.
5. Is Nipple Bleeding While Breastfeeding Normal?
Yes. Many women will experience bleeding when they breastfeed, and this may be caused by a few things. First, the baby may be an aggressive eater, so he or she may be applying too much pressure to the nipple, which will cause the bleeding to occur.
This may even be painful or uncomfortable for the women.
But you’ll also want to examine the breasts. A woman may find that there are:
- Cracked nipples
- Redness or irritation
You’ll want to switch the baby to the other breast as long as the other breast shows no signs of injury. There’s always the option of using baby formula at this time to help alleviate some of the “stress” on the nipples.
Again, you will only need a few days to a week before these symptoms subside.
The breasts, barring cancer or a tumor, will heal rather quickly. If it’s just a small amount of blood, you can still choose to breastfeed, as the baby will be unaffected.
Is there blood in breast milk normally? No. But you’ll find that even your doctor won’t be worried by a small amount of blood. If you’re still having doubts, be confident in the fact that you can:
- Stop breastfeeding if it’s too painful. You will need an alternative feeding method.
- Signs of an infection, such as redness and fever, will be present if you do have an infection. If this occurs, call your doctor and stop breastfeeding until the doctor allows.
- You can allow a small amount of bleeding to persist for a few days and wait to see if it clears. For many women, the bleeding will clear and allow them to comfortably start breastfeeding again.
You’ll want to be very cautious of blood in the baby’s diaper. If you haven’t seen blood in your breastmilk and have a baby with blood in their diaper, you’ll want to call the doctor right away to ensure that there isn’t a more serious, underlying reason for the bleeding.
But if you do notice blood in your milk, your baby’s poop may be darker than normal, which is perfectly fine.
Whenever in doubt, contact the baby’s doctor to schedule an exam. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and there is a lot of truth behind a mother’s intuition – they’re always right. Trust me when I tell you that your doctor has definitely had mothers come into the office for blood in their breast milk.