Women's Health

Blood in Breast Milk: Causes and safety

Breastfeeding is a challenging experience for mothers. There are several problems that mothers face during breastfeeding. When your breasts overfill with milk, they may get engorged and tender. Besides these normal routine problems, you may find blood in breast milk. This condition is quite alarming for mothers to focus on the root cause.

Blood in breast milk may indicate some serious problems. But, you may find blood without any major leading cause. In reality, it is quite common to have minor blood spots in pumped breast milk. Having minor blood is not bothersome to consider any disease.

What are the common causes of having blood in breast milk?

There are several causes of this. Some of the main causes are as follows:

Engorged vascular system

Breasts have a vast blood supply with a huge network of vascular systems. Having blood in your breast milk may be due to rusty pipe syndrome (the presence of blood in the first milk can change the color of milk) or engorged vessels. Therefore, in turn, it increases the blood flow to the breast. For this reason, you may have blood in the first milk or colostrum after giving birth to the body. This condition resolves within a week after giving birth to the baby.

Damaged capillaries

Blood may be there due to damaged or broken capillaries. Expressing breast milk may cause damage to the capillaries. Broken capillaries may lead to blood in the milk. Follow the instructions of your area using breast pumps to express the milk. Be gentle while expressing the breast milk.

Cracked nipples

Cracked nipples are associated with breastfeeding. Maintaining the correct positioning of the baby can help you with cracked nipples. These cracked nipples may be painful and irritate the blood vessels. In this way, it may cause bleeding in breast milk.

Benign intraductal papilloma

Bleeding may also be because of small, benign neoplasms associated with the lining of the milk ducts. These benign growths may bleed and cause blood in the milk.


Mastitis is a breast infection that may occur during breastfeeding. Women may suffer from swelling, redness, pain, fever, and chills. Some women may have discharge from the nipples. In addition, they may have streaks of blood present in their breast milk. It can occur due to missed feeding or improper latching. Moreover, it can also happen due to the overflowing of milk in the breast.

Breast cancer

Some breast cancers may also leave a bloody discharge in the breast milk. If the blood in breast milk doesn’t stop after a few days, you should consult your doctor for the proper treatment.

What are the signs of having blood in breast milk?

First milk after giving birth or colostrum may have a different tinge of colors. Breast milk may appear pink, brownish, yellowish, or clear. Traces of blood spots may remain undiagnosed. You can only find small blood spots in breast milk If you are expressing milk from the breast. Blood may change the color of the milk to bright red, pink, olive green, or a chocolate brown color.

If a greater amount of blood is ingested by the baby, you may find black tarry flecks of the blood in the baby’s poop. Blood in breast milk changes the taste of the milk. Your baby may refuse to breastfeed because of the different tastes. These are some of the changes you may notice for having blood. A small amount of blood is however of no concern. But If you feel streaks of blood in breast milk, you must consult your gynecologist or physician.

How blood in breast milk can affect the baby?

A small blood in breast milk may not affect the baby at all. But, there are some associated factors with the bleeding that may affect your baby. These are as follows:

  • Blood in the breast milk may change the taste of the milk, If it is refrigerated or contains a lot of blood. Your baby may not take the milk due to the different taste. It may cause problems related to the nursing of the baby.
  • Your baby may vomit more than normal. This condition is also related to a lot of blood in breast milk.
  • Your baby’s poop may become darker than normal color. This also happens because of more blood in breast milk.


Blood in breast milk is a common thing among breastfeeding mothers. Usually, there is no need to panic about having blood in breast milk. But, If you are having blood in breast milk for more than a few days, it may be an indication of some serious problem. There is a need to focus on the cause of having blood in breast milk. Most of the causes of having blood in breast milk are treatable.

You can continue nursing your baby with the small number of blood spots in the breast milk. But, If you are having any disease that may spread through blood, you should discontinue breastfeeding

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is it a safer practice to breastfeed the baby with blood in breast milk?

Yes, women can continue Breastfeeding when they notice a small amount of blood in breast milk. It surely will not harm the baby until the baby is nursing properly. But, If the baby is refusing to take milk due to taste, you may consult your physician.

For how long, rusty pipe syndrome lasts?

Rusty colored milk may last for the first few days of breastfeeding after birth. It may last for the three to seven days after the start of lactation. But in some cases, it may take a few weeks after the onset of lactation.

Mehedi Hasan

Mehedi Hasan is an enthusiastic health blogger and the founder member of WOMS. He likes to share his thoughts to make people inspired about their fitness. He is an experienced writer and author on highly authoritative health blogs.
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