Is blood in your breast milk safe?

A mum has shared an image of her bloody breast milk to warn others about the early signs of mastitis [Photo: Facebook/The Milk Meg]

A mum has shared an image of her bright red breast milk to warn other mothers about the early signs of the common breastfeeding condition mastitis.

Tanya Knox was expressing milk when she looked down and noticed the milk was not its usual milky white.

After investigating, Tanya noticed a blood clot the size of a 10p coin, which had changed the colour of her milk.

Though passing the clot did not hurt the Aussie mum she admits to feeling shocked by the sight of it, so she decided to share the pictures to The Milk Meg’s Facebook page to raise awareness of the causes of bloody breast milk and reassure other mums who might experience something similar.

“Painful breastfeeding pic from a bad clog almost turned mastitis,” she wrote.

“I thought it might show what can happen to our milk that nursing mums might not usually see (I exclusively pump).” 

“Amazing isn’t it?! Yes, your milk may turn red, it may be infected and it may look completely different from each breast…however it is still 100% safe (and awesome) for your baby!” she reassured.

“Do not stop breastfeeding from the affected side. If you have a clogged duct or mastitis it’s important to keep breastfeeding frequently, apply heat and massage. If you are exclusively pumping then try to pump at least every couple of hours and massage, massage, massage. And don’t be scared of how your milk looks!”

A mum passed a blood clot the size of a 10p piece [Photo: Facebook/The Milk Meg]

According to the NHS mastitis is a condition which causes a woman’s breast tissue to become painful and inflamed. It’s most common in breastfeeding women, usually within the first three months after giving birth.

Other than blood in your breast milk Liz Halliday, Deputy Head of Midwifery at Private Midwives explains that there are some other early signs of mastitis to look out for.

“Localised pain in the breast, worse if touched or on feeding or pumping. Hard lump or wedge-shaped area of engorgement in one or both breasts. Localised redness of the swollen area of the breast, red streaks may radiate out of that area,” she says.

Women should also look out for a hot area on the breast and a high temperature or flu like symptoms.

What should women do if they think they might have it?

“If you think you might have mastitis contact your midwife or GP as soon as possible. If you are very ill or symptoms do not resolve in 12-24 hours antibiotics might be appropriate,” Liz Halliday continues.

And like Tanya advises in her post, women should continue to breast feed.

“Do not stop breastfeeding,” says Liz Halliday. “Immediately stopping breastfeeding increases the chance of developing a breast abscess significantly.”

“Nurse frequently and try to drain the breast thoroughly. If you’re unable to feed baby, pump regularly (every 2 hours).”

Liz also suggests using a warm compress on the breast before and during feeds to encourage milk flow, holding a cold compresses on the breast between feeds as well as resting and drinking plenty of water.

“You can take ibruprofen and paracetamol for the pain as it is very unlikely to harm your baby whilst breastfeeding, however, make sure you take it for the shortest time and stick to the recommended dose,” she adds.

And mastitis isn’t the only cause of your breast milk turning red.

“Red or pink coloured breast milk can be caused by food that you’ve eaten. Beetroot is a common cause as are artificial colours used in fizzy drinks and red jelly,” Liz Halliday explains.

Equally, mastitis isn’t the only cause of blood in your breast milk.

“Blood in your breastmilk can also be caused by a small rupture in one of the capillaries in the breast or trauma to the nipple (no matter how small). It is not harmful to baby, and will often resolve on its own.”