Blood In Breast Milk: Should You Be Alarmed Or Not?
It’s your first baby; it’s your first weeks; you are breastfeeding and suddenly your milk turns pink. Blood-tinged or reddish breast milk is equally frightening.
Should you be concerned? Will you need to see your doctor immediately?
Let me clarify the reasons behind and help you in coping with this common occurrence.
Is It Normal?
You might have a misconception about it, thinking it is unsafe or a cause for alarm. Actually, it is normal to find blood in your breast milk, although this doesn’t happen to all mothers.
Every mom’s delivery and breastfeeding experience is different. Some might not get to experience this baffling event during breastfeeding for the reason that our bodies and health are unique.
Swallowing a little of mom’s blood is not bad for a baby. This usually happens to new mothers who had recently given birth. There are also other medical conditions that contribute to this.
The Common Reasons For Blood In Breast Milk
1. Wounded nipple
Your nipple might be sore, with cuts, cracks or is abraded on the surface. This happens if you are allergic to soap or when a baby sucks vigorously. Too much pressure from the baby’s mouth can damage the skin of your nipple, causing it to crack.
You might have eaten a colorful fruit or vegetable that suddenly made your breast milk pinkish, purplish or orange. Or it might be colostrum as they come in all sorts of color and consistency. If this is the case, just continue to breastfeed your child as usual.
3. Breast tissue trauma
The breast tissues might feel sore and painful due to excess force. It can be due to improper and excessive breast pumping. Broken breast capillaries can also be due to excess attempt to express milk through manual squeezing action and massage.
4. Rusty Pipe Syndrome
This occurs to new mothers during their first weeks’ attempt to breast feed. The breast is engorged and filled with more blood than usual. One breast might be more painful than the other and is also heavier.
When the baby sucks, there will be remnants of blood due to the previous need to stimulate and engorge the breast tissues. This is essential as this gives way to the flow of milk.
Rusty Pipe Syndrome can happen with mothers who delivered though C-Section or even those who delivered normally. With C-section mothers, their milk supply can get delayed because they underwent a major surgery which is traumatic to the body. This condition clears up at around a week even without medical intervention.
5. Breast infection
Mastitis is common for new mothers for the reason that their breasts are undergoing lots of changes. Blocked milk ducts and irregular breastfeeding routine might result in mastitis.
If this is the case, a mother’s breast milk may contain pus and blood. If you are feverish, your breasts are engorged and sore, then you might have mastitis. This requires an intake of antibiotics to treat the infection. Talk to your doctor as he/she is the best person to assess your condition.
6. Breast tumor or other causes
Intraductal papillomas are usually benign breast tumors that can cause small trickles of blood to flow into the breast milk. There will be lumps on one or both breasts. The breasts might feel asymmetrical and one breast might be larger than the other. These are such cases when you should seek first your doctor’s advice on how to deal with this condition.
Tips To Help With Conditions That Results In Blood In Breast Milk
1. Carry on and breast feed, with care
Do not stop breastfeeding as long as your baby appears contented and full. Feed your child or pump from the breast that isn’t too sore or painful. Pump your breasts regularly; set a definite schedule throughout the day.
2. Manage breast pain
You may use a nipple cream for cracked nipples. Take a pain reliever with your doctor’s go-signal. Apply a hot or cold compress to your breasts after feeding. Read this article to know the tips to relieve breast pain.
3. Be gentle with your nipples.
If your nipples have cracked due to strong bath soap, choose a hypoallergenic alternative. Protect them from the coarse fabric of bras as they can get scratched.
4. When to call your doctor
It’s alright to breastfeed even if you have a cold, unless your muscles and breasts feel too sore. On the other hand, be wary of signs of infection such as redness on the affected area and fever. If you feel that you will need to stop due to the soreness and pain, then rest and resume breastfeeding after around 12 hours. If on a rare case your doctor advises you to wean from breastfeeding, take it one step at a time. Have your doctor’s number with you so that you can reach him/her at all times.
Is There A Treatment? Is It Safe For My Baby?
Blood in breast milk is limiting in nature, they go away and heal on their own in a weeks’ time. There’s no recommended treatment, unless your doctor prescribes so. For pain, you can take certain pain relievers, with guidance from your doctor.
Too much blood ingested might make your baby’s feces dark brown or blackish. Your baby will spit more often or out rightly refuse your breasts if the blood is too much. So if you baby sucks and get full and sleepy like usual, this is not a cause for alarm.
Of course there will be exceptions to the rule. If your child refuses breastfeeding for longer than a few days, then go see your doctor. If a mother has tested positive to HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B/C, then she must also be wary on breastfeeding her kids as the virus can transfer to them.
Alternative Milk Choices
Although feeding your baby with blood-tinged milk is almost always safe for your baby, I understand that there are times you can't help but worry about her health.
So when this time comes, I suggest two options:
These two should be given to your babies with caution. They are perfectly safe, but remember that your little one, especially infants need the right amount of nutrients for their healthy development.
Almond milk, healthy as it is, may trigger allergies. If you don't know if your little one is allergic to nuts, give a small amount first then watch for her body's reaction.
Also, you have to give one that's calcium fortified because almond milk in itself is low in calcium and your baby needs it for her bone development.
Coconut milk is also a viable option but it contains high fat and calories. So give this in moderation.
Note, also, that you may notice your little one feeding less because she's full. The high fat and calorie content in the coconut milk my suppress your baby's appetite.
Blood in breast milk can be a cause for concern. It’s alright to be anxious, just don’t forget to do your part to correct this.
Read information, ask mothers for opinion and go see your doctor for a consultation. Don’t let this experience put you down, as not every mother has the ability to give milk to their babies.
You are breast feeding now so you are among the lucky ones. Breastfeeding is one of the highlights of a new mother’s life, so enjoy it.