Is Blood in Breast Milk Dangerous for Babies?

If you’ve been breastfeeding your baby and have recently found blood mixed in with the breast milk, you may be wondering whether or not this is dangerous for the baby. While it’s perfectly natural for the presence of blood to cause you to fear the worst, it’s actually quite harmless for you and your baby.

Is Blood in Milk Dangerous?

Blood appearing in breast milk is very common, especially for mothers who have started to breastfeed for the first time. Blood is perfectly safe for the baby, as it will pass safely through the digestive tract as a standard bowel movement, which means that there is nothing to be frightened or worried of. When you spot blood in your breast milk, you won’t need to stop breastfeeding until the blood dissipates entirely.

You can continue to breastfeed and the blood will eventually stop appearing. It’s also important that you don’t worry about the color of the milk once it becomes mixed with your blood, as there are numerous colors that the milk can turn into. You can expect for any blood in breast milk to appear as pink, olive, green, black, chocolate brown, and bright red. None of these indicate the presence of a serious condition.

Common Causes of Blood in Breast Milk

The reason that the appearance of blood in breast milk is so common is largely because of the fact that there are so many causes for it. Almost all of the causes aren’t serious for you as the mother. The most common causes are cracked nipples and nipple blisters, both of which cause blood to appear until they heal fully.

Vascular engorgement, commonly referred to as rusty pipe syndrome, is another common condition that you could become affected by. This condition is particularly common just after giving birth and results from an increased blood flow within the breasts. In cases like these, it’s common for the blood in the milk to appear pink or orange in color. The blood should disappear entirely within a week or two after giving birth, though you should see your doctor just to make sure that no other condition is present.

A couple of other common causes that you likely haven’t heard of before include Intraductal Papilloma and broken capillaries. The first of these conditions occurs when small tumors develop within the milk ducts. There’s no need to worry, however, as these tumors are completely harmless. They are unique in that they typically only appear within a single breast and can’t readily be felt by hand. Treatment is hardly ever required for this condition, as the tumors will gradually reduce in size and disappear entirely on their own.

As for broken capillaries, these tend to develop in the event that your breast becomes injured. For instance, using a breast pump too hard could cause the area to become injured and blood to sift into the breast milk. Treatment tends to not be required, as most smaller injuries to the breast should heal after a few days.

Another cause of breast milk blood is the mastitis infection. It is a rare breast infection which can cause bleeding. A few symptoms of this infection is swelling and pain in the affected breast, redness and soreness.

While these are some of the causes of breast milk blood, there may be other not-so-common causes which only a specialist can diagnose and only he can give you a specific treatment. However, here are some standard treatments when blood is present.

Standard Treatments When Blood is Present

If ever you do find that there is blood within your breast milk, there are some steps you may wish to take so as to make sure that the problem doesn’t subsist, even though the blood is harmless to your baby. The best course of action is to just wait for a week or two to see if the blood disappears on its own. Even so, you can still breastfeed while waiting.

However, if you feel pain when you breastfeed, it’s recommended that you simply pump milk for a couple of days until your breasts heals. When pumping the milk, try to do so around eight times each day. In the event that blood is still present after a couple of weeks, you should visit your doctor. If you ever hand express milk, it’s important that you’re gentle with your breasts. You should treat with care any sore or broken nipples, in order to put a stop to the bleeding.

Warning Signs That Your Baby Requires Treatment

While blood in breast milk is largely harmless for babies, it is possible for a baby to drink too much blood. If you notice any of the following, it’s important to seek medical care for your baby immediately. For instance, if your baby is having bloody diarrhea, this is a clear sign that they are drinking too much blood. If you’re currently suffering from a contagious disease or infection, make sure to stop breastfeeding if any blood appears in your milk. You should also be on the lookout for any worsening of your baby’s jaundice. If this occurs, make sure to stop breastfeeding until the blood disappears entirely.

Final Thoughts

While it may cause you fear when you see blood in your milk, presence of it in most of the cases is completely natural, normal and quite harmless for you and your baby.

There might be several causes for blood in milk and some of the most common ones are the cracked nipples and nipple blisters, especially if it is your first birth. However, there might be situations when the cause is more serious and can lead up to breast infections and other serious diseases.

In general, you should not worried and you should ask for help only if you see a large amount of blood and your baby is having bloody diarrhea.

If you think that you have a lot of blood which can damage your baby, it is better to contact your pediatrician because only a specialist can exactly tell you the cause and give you treatment.

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