why is there blood in my breast milk

Ask Anne P IP delivered my baby girl three days ago. My breast milk came in yesterday, and today I pumped for the first time because my breasts werePso full. When I pumped, there was blood in the milk and it looked pink. PPI don t know what s Pwrong, and I m afraid to feed the milk to my baby. Help! Answer: Although finding blood in expressed breast milk is a frightening experience, you can be assured thatPit s notPuncommon, especially in mothers who are nursing their first baby. There are several medical conditions that can cause blood to appear in a mother s milk. They are all relatively common, they end quickly, and none are considered serious. P The most common cause of blood appearing in the breast milk is a damaged nipple. If the nipple is abraded, or has open blisters or cuts, then the tissue will bleed when it undergoes stress (for example, a healthy baby sucking vigorously). A small amount of blood will appear when pumping, or it may show up in the baby s spit up or bowel movements. POnce the sore area of the nipple has healed, the bleeding will stop. Swallowing a small amount of his mother s blood will not harm the baby in any way. After all, mom and baby shared a blood supply for nine months before birth! For more information about sore nipples and how to treat them, see. Another cause of blood in the breast milk is vascular engorgement, also called Rusty Pipe Syndrome. P This condition typically occurs in a first time mother, most often occurs in both breasts (but may occur in one breast first), and also been noted in dairy cows. P Rusty Pipe Syndrome occurs due to the increased blood flow to the breast, in combination with the rapid development of milk producing tissue in the expectant mother. There is no medical treatment for this condition, but it usually clears up within a week after birth, and doesn t reoccur after that. Other less common causes of blood in the breast milk include fibrocystic breast disease, intraductal papillomas (a benign tumor in a milk duct which usually can t be felt as a lump, typically occurs in only one breast, and usually stops spontaneously without any treatment), or broken capillaries due to trauma to the breast (including hand expression involving rough treatment of the breast or nipple tissue, or improper use of a breast pump).


In most cases involving blood in breastmilk, there is no treatment except time. There is usually not much pain involved, unless the nipples are raw and abraded, or the breast tissue is extremely tender due to engorgement. PGiven the facts thatP these conditions are almost always self-limiting, there is no treatment for them, and the small amount of blood ingested is not harmful to the baby, the usual recommendation is to continue breastfeeding and/or pumping and wait for the bleeding to stop. If the bleeding is accompanied by pain, or hasn t stopped withinPa weekPafter birth, then you should consult your physician and/or lactation consultant in order to establish what the cause is and how to deal with it. Congratulations on your new arrival! Seeing blood in her breast milk is one of the scariest experiences a nursing mother can have, but it usually disappears within a few days and doesn t happen again. Try to hang in there the first couple of weeks of breastfeeding are definitely the most challenging, but the long term benefitsP are well worth the effort. Anne Smith, IBCLC
So you ve finally mastered the art of breastfeeding and pumping, and are expressing away one day when you noticeб blood in your breastmilk! This sight is enough to scare even the toughest mum. However, is actually more common than you think, especially in first-time breastfeeding mums. We tend to associate blood with something to worry about, but in the case of strawberry milk (which is what some mums call blood-tinged breastmilk), there s usually no need to fret.


In fact, many mothers don t even notice blood in their breastmilk unless they express, although sometimes, direct-latching mums may spot some blood in their baby s stools, or in his/her spit-up. 1. Cracked nipples Nipple damage is usually the most common cause of blood in your breastmilk. Cracked, sore nipples are almost always caused by poor positioning of your baby on the breast, and attachment issues. And when your baby sucks vigorously, this can cause the tissue to bleed. Speak to a lactation consultant/nurse for tips and information on how to improve your baby s positioning and attachment on the breast, which will in turn help heal any damage to your nipples, stopping the bleeding. 2. Vascular engorgement Also known as Rusty Pipe syndrome due to the rust-colour of the breastmilk, this condition occurs in mums soon after giving birth, and is also more common among first-time mums. It happens due to the increased flow of blood to the breasts soon after birth which is needed for the development of milk ducts and milk-making cells in your breasts, in combination with the rapid development of milk-producing tissue in the pregnant mum. No treatment is needed since vascular engorgement usually disappears on its own after about a week and doesn t re-occur. Also, encourage mums with this condition to continue breastfeeding. However, if bleeding continues beyond a week, it s best to consult a doctor for professional advice. 3. Intraductal papilloma An intraductal papilloma is a small, benign wart-like growth on the lining of a milk duct that bleeds as it wears away. They are usually only found in one breast and cannot be felt through manual stimulation. Breast papilloma are harmless and don t need to be treated, and the bleeding will subside on its own. 4.


Broken capillaries This can occur due to rough handling of your breasts, pressing your breasts too hard while hand expressing or incorrect usage of the breast pump. Try turning down the suction of your breast pump if blood in your breastmilk is due to broken capillaries (bright red blood indicates the source is most likely near your nipples), which will help reduce pressure on the area and allow it to heal. Is it okay to give your baby strawberry milk? Yes, it s perfectly fine on most occasions, according to lactation experts, save for a few exceptions which you ll read about later in this article. Internationally renowned paediatrician and lactation expert Dr. Jack Newman that even though blood-tinged breastmilk may cause your baby to spit-up more and even show up as digested blood in his poo, thisб is not a reason to stop breastfeeding the baby. Б Meanwhile, lactation consultant and author of Breastfeeding Answeders Made Simple б Nancy Mohrbacher says Бit is fine to continue breastfeeding and the bleeding will not harm your babyБ. Lactation experts at La Leche League International also concur that breast milk with blood in it usually is safe to feed to your baby. Your baby will not be harmed in any way by swallowing blood with your breastmilk and it will just pass out with your baby s stool. And if you see blood in your baby s diaper, as long as you know it s from your breastmilk there s no reason to be worried. However, to make sure this bloodб isб from your breastmilk, please consult your baby s paediatrician to rule out any other causes for it, such as allergies (from your own food intake), infections and even lacerations around your baby s anus. When should you avoid giving your baby strawberry milk? Find out on the next page, as well as what you can do to stop the bleeding, and information about storing blood-tinged milk. б

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