The presence of blood in the breast milk may scare the mother when she first notices it. But there is nothing to worry as it is common, specifically in new moms. Usually, it does not point to any severe health issue. In fact, lot of times the blood in mother’s milk goes unnoticed. She usually discovers the blood when she pumps the breast milk or if the baby spits up a little blood-tinged milk or blood is visible in her baby’s stools.
Blood In Breast Milk: Is It Safe For Your Baby?
Yes it is. Before getting into details, let us assure you that there is nothing to worry about a little blood in breast milk that enters your baby’s system. It will not harm your baby. Let us not forget that the baby was inside you not that long ago sharing the blood supply. The only challenge that you might face is if the baby picks the difference in taste and refuse to suckle. But since they are very small, and the quantity of blood will be very little, the chances of this is remote.
Causes Of Blood In Breast Milk
Here are some common causes for spotting blood in breast milk:
- Damaged nipples: This is the most common reason for seeing blood in breast milk. It could be caused due to a number of reasons – a cut near the nipple, cracked nipples due to improper latching or an open blister near nipple. So when the baby sucks on your breast, the tissue around the cut becomes pressurized (just like when you squeeze a cut on the finger) and a small amount of blood will ooze out
- Vascular engorgement: This condition, which is common in first time moms, is also called “Rusty Pipe Syndrome”. It is called so because the milk will have a rusty color. It is caused due to the high amount of activity in your breasts – there is increased milk flow, there is faster milk movements and there are increasingly more milk producing tissues created every day in your breasts. All these lead to milk having an orange or pinkish tinge
- Intraductal Papilloma: This is a benign tumor found in the milk ducts present in the breast. Do not be frightened by the word tumor, these ones are harmless. Unlike their more serious counterparts, intraductal papilloma cannot be felt during a physical examination
- Fibrocystic breast disease: This is another benign condition in which lumps can be felt in the breasts which are very uncomfortable. These lumps are non-cancerous
- Broken capillaries: This is caused due to some trauma that happened to the breasts, such as over squeezing while expressing milk using hand, wrong use of breast pump or pressure due to very tight clothes
- Mastitis: This breast infection causes bleeding. In this condition you will notice lot of soft lumps, swelling and pain in the breasts. In addition to this, you can also notice redness and soreness in your breast along with slight temperature. If you notice these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention
- Breast Cancer: One of the rarest cause of blood in the breast milk can be Breast cancer. Certain types of breast cancer can cause nipple bleeding. This also needs immediate examination by the doctor
How To Treat Blood In Breastmilk?
Now, the good news is that all the above mentioned causes of spotting blood in breast milk get resolved themselves. For instance,
- Cracked nipples will heal just like any wound we have
- Vascular engorgement gets cleared up one week after it occurs without any treatment, and very likely never occur again
- Intraductal papillomas are known to spontaneously disappear, again, without any treatment
- Fibrocystic breast disease also requires no medical intervention; the only side effect is the possible pain and discomfort and your doctor can prescribe methods to make you comfortable
- Broken capillaries self-heal
How Can The Discomfort Of Bleeding From The Breasts Be Eased?
Our advice for you is to wait it out. The pain, discomfort and blood will disappear once your breast heals. Meanwhile, here are few techniques for you to cope.
- You can express milk for next 2-3 days at one go. This way, you can give your breasts some rest for 2-3 days, thereby giving it a chance to heal
- Just make sure that you are using the breast pump correctly. Take the help of a lactation consultant, if you are in doubt
- Wear comfortable bras with good fitting and support
- Be careful when you express milk using hand
- Make sure your baby is latching right to avoid cracked nipples
When To Seek Doctor’s Advice?
All that said, please talk to your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- If your baby has bloody diarrhea (it is normal, however, to spot blood in the milk the child spits after a feed)
- If baby’s jaundice is not getting cured
- If you think the bleeding is caused by a contagious infection
- To rule out any serious medical issues
In conclusion, in the majority of the cases, the blood in the breast milk is not as scary as it might look like. The reason or cause for it is minor and it will most likely resolve itself. The inconvenience is the only problem you need to deal with. So keep your worries at bay and enjoy your motherhood.
Congratulations to the new mommy!