What Causes Blood in Breast Milk? And What You Can Do About It!
Breastfeeding is one of the most fulfilling experience a mother can ever have. The bond that you and your baby establish when he is breastfeeding from you is incomparable. Because of this, you would surely want to make sure that nothing will go wrong in the process.
But what if your breastmilk suddenly changed in color? What if your breast milk has a pinkish, reddish, orangish to brownish tinge? These colors indicate that you most probably have blood in breast milk.
Surely, you will panic and have plenty of questions - why is there blood in your breastmilk? What causes it? How can it affect your child? What can you do about it?
Well, worry not! I am here to answer all of your questions and to help you know what you can do to endure this seemingly scary situation. If you wish to know the answers, read on!
Causes of Blood in Breast Milk
First things first, you need to know what are the possible causes of blood in breast milk. There are several possible reasons why you would have blood in the breastmilk. These are as follows:
Cracked nipples may come as a result of improper latching. When the child doesn’t latch on the right way, it may cause some irritation on your breasts which may lead to pain and cracking. Your cracked nipples may bleed which may cause blood in breast milk.
Our breasts have small blood vessels which may break because either injury or trauma which is associated with the expression of breast milk, either by pumping or hand.
Many refer to this as the rusty pipe syndrome. After giving birth to your baby, your breasts will receive a greater amount of blood as it produces breastmilk. This stage is referred to as vascular engorgement.
The excess blood flow during this stage may leak into your breast milk which causes it to have a rust, orange or brown color. This is more common to first-time moms.
This is a type of infection that usually occurs when breastfeeding. This condition is associated with a build-up of milk in the breasts which causes swelling, breast pain, redness, chills, and fever. Some women with mastitis also experience nipple discharge which may lead to the presence of blood in breast milk.
Benign intraductal papilloma
Blood in breast milk may also be a result of the presence of small benign tumors in the milk duct lining. If you are not sure if you have these, try touching your breasts. You may feel these as small growths behind the nipple.
If you only have a single intraductal papilloma, there is nothing to worry about. But if you have multiple papillomas, it is best that you have it checked right away.
How Would it Affect Your Baby
Of course, your first concern would be your baby. What would happen to him if he drank your breastmilk with blood? Is it safe for him?
The answer is yes. Having a small amount of blood in breast milk is not harmful to your baby, and it will not have any effect on him whatsoever. With this in mind, you can continue to breastfeed your baby or pump and express breast milk even if you have noticed blood in it.
Just make sure to monitor how long the blood will last. It will usually go away after a few days, but if it persists for more than a week, it would be best that you call your doctor.
What Can You Do About It?
How can you address this problem? What can you do to make the bleeding stop? Here are some possible ways to manage blood in breast milk:
- If you have cracked nipples
You should make sure that your baby is latching on properly. You can check out some videos on proper latching. Or you can ask your doctor about it.
In the meantime, you can care for your cracked nipples with the use of a baby safe nipple cream or a hydrogel. Do not use just about any nipple cream. Ask your doctor for approval first before applying anything on your breasts.
When not breastfeeding, you should try wearing breast pads to protect your nipples from rubbing against your clothing.
- If you think the bleeding is due to broken capillaries
You should stop pumping for a little while. In addition to that, you should ensure that you are using the pump at a suction speed and level that is comfortable for you.
- If your breasts feel hard and swollen
It indicates vascular engorgement, and you can try reducing the swelling by applying a cold compress to your breast. Another technique is to place refrigerated cabbage leaves inside your bra.
If the engorgement is too painful, you can also try taking some pain medication. But once again, you should talk to your doctor first before taking any medicines.
- If the blood in your breastmilk is accompanied by swelling, pain, redness, and any other signs of infection
It indicates mastitis, you should visit your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and determine the right treatment.
- If you have noticed small growth near or behind your nipple
Ask your doctor what are the best ways on how you can stop the bleeding. It is also advised that you undergo the right medical examinations to ensure that the growths and tumors are not yet cancerous.
As a mother, you would want to make sure that your baby is getting the nutrition that he needs and that is why you opted to breastfeed. But what if you have noticed blood in your breast milk? What may cause it? Is it safe for your baby and what can you do about it?
As mentioned above, the possible causes of breast milk in blood are mastitis, papilloma, vascular engorgement, broken capillaries and cracked nipples. We have mentioned some ways on how to properly manage blood in breast milk. Your treatment option must be based on what is causing blood in your breast milk.
I hope that you have learned a lot from this article If you do have questions or comments, please do share them at the comments section!