Breastfeeding changing color? What does that mean?

by Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC

You finally got the hang of breastfeeding. You perfected baby’s latch, you’ve mastered the football hold while texting, and baby has a ton of poop diapers so you know your milk supply is right on track. But since you’ve started pumping, you’ve noticed variations in the color of your breastmilk. Your breastmilk went from yellow in color after delivery then to white when you came home and your milk came in. Now you started to pump and noticed the color of your milk seems off. Is this normal or have you started to produce milk for a tiny Martian? Before you totally freak out, we’re here to tell you color changes in breastmilk is a normal occurrence. Don’t pump and dump just yet mamas. Get the true story, bust the myths and breastfeed on.

Here are a few important facts to know about breast milk color variations and to assure you that your milk is perfectly safe for your baby.

Understanding the stages of breastmilk

During the first few weeks after delivery, your breastmilk will change rapidly in amount and in color. In the first few days, your body will produce colostrum, also called “golden milk” because of its deep yellow or even orange color. Colostrum is highly concentrated and nutritious. You will only make a few teaspoons of colostrum at first because that’s all that baby really needs to fill up their tiny belly. After about a week your milk will start transitioning and start to come in. During this time, moms will sometimes experience engorgement as their bodies begin to produce mature milk. Transitional milk will get less yellow and more white in color. You will notice your milk is not as thick as before and you have much more now. You might even be able to hear baby chugging while nursing. Gulp! The last stage of breast milk is when your milk supply has been established and is now in sync with baby’s demand. You are now producing “mature milk.” At this stage, you may notice when you first turn on the pump or maybe even drip a little before nursing, that your milk is clear and thinner which is called foremilk. And behind the foremilk, your breast milk is creamier which is your hindmilk (higher in fat). Both foremilk and hindmilk are essential to baby’s development. Research tells us that if baby is breastfeeding well and nursing sessions are not getting cut short, there is no reason for concern. Overall baby will receive a balance of both foremilk and hindmilk throughout the day and get exactly what is needed for an appropriate growth trajectory.

Colors and variations of breastmilk

Most color changes are caused by diet but things like herbs, nutritional supplements or medicine can also alter the color of your breastmilk. Taking a close look at what you’ve been eating can often pinpoint where the color change is coming from. A green or bluish tint can come from eating foods that contain dyes or overloading on dark leafy greens. Baby is literally tasting the rainbow when drinking breast milk. Research says breastfed babies are less picky eaters as toddlers because they try different foods through mommy’s milk. Keep with the healthy eating. You are opening baby’s palate to healthy nutritious foods and they will be more likely to eat them as they get older.

Brown or pink colored milk or even blood tinges in breastmilk can be coming from a variety of different reasons like cracked nipples, damaged capillaries in the breast, or even hormonal changes. The evidence shows, if you and baby are healthy, occasional breast milk streaked with red or pinkish in color, is perfectly safe to be given to baby. It is important to note small amounts of blood ingested by baby are likely not to be of concern, but larger amounts can cause baby to have an upset stomach and have blood appear in their stool. If you have an infection such as Hep B or C, or baby is immune compromised breastfeeding may need to be interrupted. Reach out to your doctor to discuss the best plan of action.

Rusty pipe syndrome is a temporary condition that can happen during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. This condition typically only lasts a few days and is caused by colostrum mixing with transitional milk. Don’t panic if you notice your milk looks like dirty or “rusty” water. It shouldn’t bother baby or affect breastfeeding whatsoever. If it doesn’t clear up in the first few days of breastfeeding or if it starts to happen later along your breastfeeding journey something else may be going on and it’s important to talk to your doctor.

Stored breastmilk and changes in color

Pumping and storing milk can alter the color of breastmilk. When storing breastmilk in the fridge you will notice it will separate into those 2 layers of foremilk and hindmilk. Fat rises to the top, so that’s why you will see the separation. The foremilk on the bottom might even appear bluish or grayish and this is normal! No need for concern and safe to be given to baby. Give the bottle a gentle swirl and it will combine again. Breastmilk will also change color in the freezer and can appear more yellow. This is also completely normal and your milk has not gone bad. Check out the CDC guidelines for proper milk storage to maintain the safety and quality of expressed breastmilk.

When to scream and call the doctor

Pain is not subsiding and you are seeing some pretty large amounts of blood in your breastmilk when you pump or in baby’s mouth after nursing. Call the doctor! Along with blood, you have hard lumps, fever, body chills and aches that are progressing. Call the doctor! Mastitis or “inflammation of the milk ducts” can be either infectious or non-infectious. Most of the time it’s non-infectious and can be treated with simply rest, frequent nursing or pumping, and lots of fluids. But when it’s infectious, you may see large amounts of pus, blood, or other wacky substances leaky from your nipples. Call the doctor!

Although changes in the color of your breastmilk is usually not serious, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare practitioner if you are concerned. Keep in mind there can be contraindications with some medicines, herbs, or supplements while lactating and they can also alter the color of your breastmilk. Download the free LactMed app! Review the evidence behind medications and breastfeeding with your doctor and make the best decision for you and your baby. It’s unlikely breastfeeding will need to be interrupted and in that rare occasion that it might be, it will almost always only be for a minimal amount of time. Trust your body. Trust your breastmilk. And nurse on mams!  

Working and Pumping: The Struggle is Real

What To Know When Returning To Work

Well, it’s sadly that time, when you are headed back to work after maternity leave.  Hopefully, your employer offers that necessary benefit. The baby honeymoon is over and now you have some big decisions to make regarding child care and feeding.  If you’ve been breastfeeding up to this point, there is a good chance you’ll want to continue providing baby with your milk. After all, it is recommended to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months if possible to get the continued benefits such as less frequent illness.  Before your actual return, try to be as prepared as possible. Make sure you know your workplace rights, have all the gear you need and have at least a general plan for how you will feasibly pump enough to keep up your supply for baby. Here are the basics to get you started:

Protection under federal and state laws

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law with provisions related to nursing mothers and pumping at work. The guidelines include employees that are not exempt under section 7 of the law.  This includes most hourly paid employees. The law specifically calls for providing a nursing mother unpaid (unless all employees are paid for their breaks) reasonable breaks with a private room for nursing that isn’t a bathroom.  If your employer is smaller than 50 employees, they may be exempt from this law if it causes them “undue hardship.”  For full details check out these great resources here and here.  If you aren’t covered under the ACA, make sure to check your state laws.  Twenty-eight of fifty states have some kind of provision related to breastfeeding.

Planning and educating yourself

First, figure out what laws you are specifically covered by depending on your employment from the resources above.  If you aren’t sure, talk to your boss, human resources, or a workplace lawyer so you can start making a game plan.

Next, equipping yourself with all the essentials for successful workplace pumping is key.  To maintain a good milk supply it is important to have access to the best possible pump. For time management and optimal pumping, look into getting a double, electric breast pump that is hospital strength.  Under the ACA, it is also required that your health insurance provide you with a pump (either a rental or single user depending on the model). There are several pump options available and companies that will do all the footwork for you to get you the pump you need with little hassle.  Spectra Baby USA is one of these companies with the added bonus of great customer service and lactations consultants on hand as needed.  Check out their page for a comparison chart of different pumps to find the best option for you and you can also check their insurance lookup tool that locates a DME (Durable Medical Equipment) company that will work with your insurance policy to get you a breast pump covered by your plan.

Lastly, consider any accessories to purchase to make your life easier as a pumping mom.  This includes items like a pumping bra, sterilizing tools, nipple cream, adequate collection bottles, freezer bags, and insulated tote to be able to get your milk safely to and from work.  Having the right gear will keep you organized and efficient!

When and how to pump: finding a schedule.

In general, you want to pump in a way that would mimic your baby’s current feeding schedule.  This generally means that a mom will have to pump every 3-4 hours. For a full-time employee that should be 2-3 times depending on lunch breaks and commute time.  How you want to schedule these into your day is completely dependent on what works in your day. Regardless, make sure that you try to actually schedule these times into your calendar to remind yourself and your co-workers.  It’s easy to forget or skip a pumping session if you don’t make it a priority and this can negatively impact your supply. If you are short on time one day, don’t stress and just try to get in as many short sessions as you can to keep the supply signal going to your breasts.

The last big consideration is your milk supply as your switch from breastfeeding to the use of a pump.  Your baby is much better at extracting milk from your breast than a machine, so if you have trouble initially with the amount you are pumping don’t be discouraged.  Keep these basic tips in mind: keep hydrated, eat healthily and frequently, stimulate an adequate let down with massage, heat or thinking of your baby (even look at a picture!), stay relaxed and comfortable and make sure you have the right size breast shield.

With the right preparation, you will manage the transition into a work-family balance well.  You rock mama! Keep up the good work providing liquid gold for your child while crushing those career goals.  

How to Deal with Breast Milk while Traveling

Traveling after having a baby is definitely a whole new kind of adventure.  The first concern that should come to mind is how to feed your little one, especially if you’re pumping. Whether you are exclusively pumping, traveling without your baby and need to keep up with your supply, or just want to bring a bottle or two for the ride: here is what you can do to make your traveling (particularly flying) experience easier.

Don’t check your pump.

It is not worth the risk!  Airlines are notoriously hard on checked bags and having a broken expensive pump will cause unnecessary stress.  Even with it as a carry on, it is always safe to bring a manual pump with you (just in case!).  The best news is that a pump does not count as a carry-on item but rather a medical device, so you can still have a normal carry on and personal item if it’s part of the airline’s policy.  It may be smart double check what you’re allowed to carry on with your specific airline since this is always changing.

Invest in good accessories.

Accessories are key.  Things like a good pump carrier, cooler, ice packs, extra bottles, a water kettle (if you need to heat milk for your little one), and storage bags will keep you on top of your breast pumping game.  What exactly you will need depends of course on how long of a trip you are taking. You’ll need a much bigger cooler if you’re gone for a weekend versus a week!

Plan Ahead.

If bringing milk, try to only bring what you need.  However, flying can be unpredictable so also be prepared.  Try to find a balance so that you don’t have milk that goes to waste but you also keep your baby fed if needed! Try to bring your milk frozen (unless you plan on using it immediately), as this will cause less of a hassle with security. Plus, it can be refrozen when you arrive at your destination as long as there is one piece of ice left in the bag!

Allow extra time in security.

Security can be tricky.  Make sure you declare your breast milk and your travels will definitely have a better start!  You will most likely need to go through some extra screens, which is totally normal. However, don’t let anyone claim they need to open your milk bags and request that they use gloves to keep your items sanitary.  There are always horror stories about women going through security, so if you can remember bring TSA guidelines with you (a screenshot on your phone can work too) to reference.  Some employees simply aren’t aware of the rules so it helps if you know your rights!

The 3-ounce rule.

Quantities of your breast milk can be more than 3 ounces per container.  There is no specific restriction here. TSA only states that it should be a “reasonable” amount. On the other hand, if you bring ice or an ice pack in your cooler they ARE subject to the 3-ounce rule, so plan accordingly. You can even have dry ice if it is specifically for breast milk.  Some people don’t want to deal with ice at security and simply ask for ice at a restaurant when they get inside the security gates. If you are returning from a trip with milk and don’t want to deal with any of these rules, look into courier options like Milk Stork to overnight your milk back home.

Find a place with a freezer.

When booking a hotel make sure they have a freezer you can use.  Call ahead if you aren’t sure. Ideally, there will be one in your room (some fridges can even get cold enough). However, you may be able to use the hotel’s main freezer if there is no other option.  If you’re struggling with hotels, booking an entire place on sites like Airbnb may be a great option since the majority of them would standardly provide a freezer in their kitchen.

Stay calm and carry on.

You’re an awesome mom for being committed to your baby’s health by providing breast milk!  Follow these steps, do the best you can, and all will be good! Traveling can be stressful, which can affect your supply.  Being prepared will make your trip significantly more enjoyable. If you are struggling with supply, use of your pump or any other details related to breastfeeding don’t hesitate to check out other blog articles here or talk to a specialist at Spectra Baby USA.  

 

Breastmilk During Disaster

What To Do With Your Breast Milk During A Natural Disaster

By Melissa Portunato, IBCLC

Dealing with a natural disaster can be extremely stressful. Here in the US, Hurricanes and other natural disasters threaten various parts of our nation.  With this comes the ominous thought that our precious, pumped mother’s milk may go wasted and on the other hand, that we may be faced with feeding our little one(s) during such a stressful time. You may ask yourself questions like How long will my milk be good for if the power goes out? How can I protect my freezer stash? Can I refreeze my milk? Don’t fret! We got you covered.

Losing your precious pumped milk is a BIG DEAL! Hard work goes into pumping and storing milk! Whether it’s a “date night” stash or a freezer packed to the brim, it’s YOUR milk. Your amazing body made it! It’s the superior form of infant nutrition and you want to keep it safe for your baby.

Check out these tips you need to know about how to properly handle your milk before, during, and after a natural disaster. Protect your precious liquid gold as best you can but most importantly, be vigilant and stay safe.

Tip #1: Get prepared. The Calm Before the Storm.

Before the storm hits, get prepared.  Start filling up water bottles, small buckets, and pretty much anything that will hold water and pack your freezer tight. The USDA tells us, contents in the freezer will remain frozen for 48 hours if full and 24 hours if half full. So don’t be shy about it and pack it up tight! Keep your milk in the center of the freezer and try not to open the door. You can fill up our Spectra milk storage bags with water and store them in all those small spaces. Turn your freezer to the coldest setting! If you know for a fact you will be out of power for a few days, pack your freezer with dry ice! This will allow you even more chilling time. Limit opening the freezer at ALL costs to protect the temperature inside and ensure it will remain safe for that 24-48 hour timeframe. If you can invest in a deep freezer (such as a chest freezer), that would be even better as the temperature can remain more stable (even lower temperature than a kitchen freezer), keep it packed tightly like mentioned above and closed!

Tip #2: My power is out now WHAT?

If you followed tip #1 , you will have on average (depending on how packed and cold your freezer was before you lost power) 1-2 days without having to worry about relocating your breastmilk. If you didn’t prepare, disaster struck without notice, or it’s been over 2 days and power is not back, it’s OK! Evidence tells us as long as your milk still has some ice crystals in it, it remains perfectly safe to be given to your baby. Some studies even discovered it’s likely your milk is still good even if it has completely thawed, as long as it has been kept cool for 8 hours it can even be refrozen! Ha-lle-lu-jah! But, please reach out to our IBCLCs if you have any concerns or questions about your precious milk before you provide it to your little angel.

Tip #3: I’m getting the HECK out of Dodge!

Call ahead to be sure wherever you are going has a freezer. This will save you lots of unnecessary stress! Any cooler will work, but it’s best to use a cooler that accommodates the amount of breastmilk that will be transported. Keeping it nice and snug will keep it colder longer. Tape the cooler too, just in case! You wouldn’t want the top to fall off, get lost, or shift in all the madness.

It would be awful if you would lose your breast milk stash but keeping your family safe during this time is the priority. Don’t let the transporting of your milk be the reason for a delay in an emergency evacuation. Plan ahead.  And if you do lose your stash, try not to beat yourself up about it. You did everything you could to save it. You’re an amazing mom! Focus on breastfeeding directly from the breast. If you are an exclusive pumper, keeping your baby close, skin to skin, can help stimulate your milk supply and help to replenish your lost milk stash. Plus, skin to skin can help calm mother and baby. Please remember you can always reach out to your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns, especially if you have a preemie or your baby is immune compromised.

To read more tips about disaster planning and infant feeding visit The CDC. Do you have additional tips?  Leave us your comments.

 

Spectra breast pumps

Which Spectra Breast Pump is Right for Me?

by: Brittney F.

Let’s face it, Moms, there are A LOT of choices out there when it comes to breast pumps. If you’ve chosen Spectra, congratulations!  As a breast pump company, we offer the best options for the busy nursing Mother. Our pumps are versatile, discreet, and most importantly, NATURAL feeling. A lot of Moms find themselves here, asking themselves “which pump do I choose?”  To help you decide, we’ve put a list describing each and what it includes for you.

All of Spectra’s models include the following:

  • Breast Flanges
  • Wide Neck Bottles
  • Discs
  • Locking Rings and Caps
  • Duckbill valves
  • Backflow protectors
  • Tubing
  • Power Cord & Adapter

 

The S1 Plus

The Spectra S1 Plus offers up at an amazing 3lbs. Compared to lugging around those 12-pound breast pump “purses”, this thing is a dream. This rechargeable model is perfect for Moms on-the-go and working Moms alike. It is quiet, operating at the ‘noise’ level of a library and convenient. The S1 has a massage mode, that imitates your newborn’s sucking rhythm and adjustable suction level with a timer. The S1 model also includes a night light to help you see when you wake up for that inevitable 1 AM session.

The S2 Plus

The S2 Plus is Spectra’s all-electric premier model. It is perfect for Moms who stay at home with their little ones and can have a set place to pump. This model, even lighter than the S1 Plus, comes in at 2.5lbs. While it is lighter and does have all of the same features, this pump is not rechargeable. If you take it with you, you must bring the power cord to plug it in and stay in the same place while you pump.

The 9 Plus

The 9 Plus breast pump is amazing because you can literally stick it in your purse. It comes in at a whopping half a pound. What weighs half a pound? A tomato. A tomato weighs half a pound. This beauty of a pump offers the same features as the two previous models, minus the nightlight. Even more, it does not have to stay plugged in and it offers the most convenience and portability for on-the-go Moms. If you have a place to go, you can take this pump anywhere.

The Dew 350

This pump is a bit different from the other pumps. It’s near and dear to my heart because it is for Moms whose little ones are unable to breastfeed. Whatever your reason to need this pump, you can rest easy knowing that Spectra is there for you and understands what you’re going through. This pump has backflow protection and comfortable suction levels, just like the other pumps, but was designed with Moms who are just having a bit of trouble with breastfeeding. It’s not meant for all Moms, just Moms with little ones like my boy, who have feeding difficulties.

 

No matter what type of Mom you are, Stay-at-home, Working, On-The Go or Work-From-Home, Spectra has the right pump for you. You and pick up all of these pumps, as well as some super cute accessories like a gorgeous our black tote and blinged-out baby bottles at SpectraBabyUsa.com.  Leave us your comments below.

 

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