The Ultimate Guide to Breastmilk Color (Normal Variations & What They Mean)

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Is your breastmilk a color you weren’t expecting? Orange? Green? Blue? It’s probably normal! Here are all the colors human milk can be and what each one means.

Most breastfeeding parents are surprised to find that human milk and cow’s milk don’t look as similar as you might expect. When we think of “milk,” we most often picture what we’re used to seeing in the supermarket: A white, slightly creamy substance that is always uniform in color, texture, and consistency. But human milk doesn’t always look like that!

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If your milk doesn’t look how you were expecting it to, you might be wondering if there is something wrong. Chances are, there isn’t! Let’s take a look at all the different colors human milk can be.

Breastmilk color variations


Deep yellow / gold circle

Colostrum is the name for the first milk you produce–and yes, colostrum is in fact milk! The body starts making colostrum early in pregnancy (10-14 weeks), and sometimes it will leak before birth (don’t worry if you don’t leak though, as that’s also normal and NOT predictive of low supply). Colostrum is higher in protein, white blood cells, and certain vitamins & minerals compared to mature milk, and it is lower in fat and lactose. It is normal to make only small volumes of colostrum at first–we’re talking drops rather than ounces.

Colostrum is most often golden or deep yellow in color:

Cup of deep yellow colostrum
Colostrum collected in a cup after birth
Bags of frozen colostrum and transitional milk. The frozen colostrum is breastmilk that is a deeper gold color.
Frozen colostrum (left) is much darker in color than transitional milk (right).

However, even colostrum comes in a range of colors. Sometimes it is so deep yellow that it appears almost orange, and sometimes it can appear nearly translucent (especially if it is collected before birth):

Colostrum expressed antenatally in a syringe.
Colostrum collected before birth (antenatally) is sometimes translucent rather than a deep gold.

READ MORE: How to Express Colostrum Before Birth (And Why You Might Want To)

Light Yellow Milk

Light yellow circle

2-5 days after birth, colostrum begins to transition to mature milk. This process is gradual and takes about 10-15 days. This transitional milk is usually more yellow in color than mature milk, and it will gradually become lighter as time progresses. If you consume a lot of foods containing beta carotene (e.g. carrots, yams, squash) or red/yellow/orange food dyes, you might notice that even mature milk will have a light yellow (or sometimes slightly orange) tint to it.

Bottle of transitional milk
Transitional milk from the parent of a 5 day old baby. Remember that normal pump output at this age is around 1-1.5 ounces both breasts combined.
Colostrum expressed and frozen in syringes
Antenatally expressed colostrum is sometimes light yellow when frozen as opposed to a deep gold.
Light yellow frozen mature milk in bags
Mature milk can sometimes be light yellow in color.

Cream / Pale Yellow Milk

Pale yellow circle

The amount of fat in a bottle of your pumped milk depends on how drained the breast was when that milk was pumped. Breasts that are very full will release milk that has less fat and more water per ounce, while breasts that are more drained will release milk with more fat and less water per ounce. If you happen to pump milk that has a higher-than-usual fat volume, you’ll probably notice that milk is more creamy in color. That said, you do NOT need to worry about how much fat is in your milk (you can learn why here)!

Watery breastmilk and creamy breastmilk side by side
Breast fullness impacts the quantity of fat in pumped milk, not diet! This milk was collected at the same time from the same person. The cream-colored milk (right) was collected on a breast that had been drained prior to this pump session, while the white-colored milk was collected from a very full breast that hadn’t been drained as recently.
Frozen mature milk in freezer breastmilk bags
Sometimes milk–regardless of fat content–can appear more cream colored when frozen.

Ivory / White Milk

White circle

This one is pretty straight forward! Freshly pumped mature milk is most often ivory / white in color. If occasionally yours is not, that does not necessarily mean anything is wrong. Frozen milk can also sometimes be white in color.

Freshly pumped white milk. It is a good idea to freeze milk in appropriate portion sizes (usually 3-4 ounces).

Blue Tinted Milk

Milk that has a higher water content often has a blue tint to it. Milk pumped first thing in the morning (especially if its been a few hours since baby nursed overnight) tends to have a higher water content, as does the milk pumped at the beginning of a pumping session. You might also notice your milk take on a blue tint when it separates in the fridge. This higher water content milk is sometimes referred to as “foremilk.” It is an important part of your baby’s diet: The higher water content does NOT make it less quality milk.

Additionally, sometimes your milk can take on a blue hue if you consume a high quantity of blue foods like blueberries or foods containing blue food dyes.

Blue tinted milk.

green Tinted Milk

Human milk can appear greenish if you’ve eaten a lot of green veggies, beverages, seaweed, or if you’ve taken iron supplements or multivitamins. It can also take on a green tint when baby is sick, when your body is fighting an infection, or when you are mounting an immune response. Milk pumped when you have mastitis (an infection of the breast), for example, may be a bit greener than usual. This green milk make look funky, but it is safe for baby to consume!

The green tinted milk was pumped while the parent was mounting an immune response. It is safe for baby to consume.

Pink Milk

Although it is lovingly referred to as “strawberry milk,” this pink drink actually gets its hue from traces of blood. But don’t let that knowledge cause you to dump it out! This milk is safe to consume! If baby were nursing directly from the breast, neither of you would even know your milk was pink. Pink milk is most often caused by cracked nipples, mastitis, and/or broken capillaries caused by improper pump use/fit. It can also be caused by consuming foods and beverages that are red or contain red food dyes.

If your baby is reacting poorly to pink milk (e.g. vomiting, diarrhea) or if the bleeding persists for more than a couple days, let your pediatrician and qualified lactation consultant know. And of course, if your milk is VERY pink (or even red) due to bleeding and you don’t feel comfortable feeding it to your baby, you don’t have to.

Very very rarely, breastmilk can turn a very bright–almost fluorescent–pink if a bacteria called Serratia marcescens is present. You can see what this shade of pink looks like here. This bacteria can be very harmful to young infants, so treatment with antibiotics is recommended. Returning to breastfeeding is safe after cultures of the breastfeeding parent and baby come back negative (source).

Brown MiLk

During pregnancy and the first few days after birth, your breast tissue receives an increased supply of blood to support the tissues responsible for milk production. Sometimes this blood can leak into milk ducts, causing the milk that is eventually released to look brown or rust colored. This is referred to as “rusty pipe syndrome.” This milk is safe to feed your baby, and you should notice the milk return to a normal color in a few days. You can see what this milk looks like in real life here.

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If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our digital library of helpful resources that quickly teach how to avoid common breastfeeding problems and give you the peace of mind and confidence you need to meet your breastfeeding goals.

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