New Mom Learns About Pink Breast Milk Or Rusty Pipe Syndrome

Photo: (Photo : STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

A new mother, who has been breastfeeding her baby for nearly two months, was surprised to see that she has pink breast milk and shared her discovery, as well as her newly acquired knowledge about breast milk colors, to her followers on social media.

Jo Johnson Overby said in a video on TikTok, which has raked nearly two million views, that no one has ever told her breast milk could "come in an array of colors." She then proceeded to show two bags of her expressed milk in white, the color everyone expects, and pink, the milk she has labeled as her "strawberry breast milk."

The mom then went on to explain that the tinge of pink is actually her blood because she has an "aggressive clog." After checking with her sister, who works as a pediatric nurse, she was assured that her baby could still drink the milk but she understands how it might be gross for other moms who might also discover that they could express blood-tinged breast milk.


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Mom's Damaged Nipples

Dr. Emily Jacobs told Buzzfeed that it's not unusual for moms to have pink breast milk if they have "damaged nipples" or cracked and blistered nipples due to breastfeeding. In fact, Jacobs suggested that it will help to keep on breastfeeding, despite the blood, since this will prevent the nipples from getting more clogged.

Clogged nipples can lead to painful mastitis or infection in the nipples, which could be accompanied by fever and flu-like symptoms. However, if the mom begins to get some discomfort from the damaged nipples, she could put ice or a nipple cream after feeding to facilitate faster healing.

Jacobs also said that pink breast milk is "very rarely" a problem. However, if the bleeding persists after a week, moms should see a doctor as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis.

Breastfeeding educator Charity LaRae said that all breastfeeding moms should expect pink breast milk "at some point" while they are nursing because of nipple engorgement. She described this as "a vascular process that causes blood vessels to swell," where some of the blood could flow on the milk ducts.

What is Rusty Pipe Syndrome?

Pink breast milk is also called Rusty Pipe Syndrome, which is the term used for non-white milk or "milk in an array of colors." The experts all agree that the amount of blood mixing with breast milk is too tiny to cause any harm to the baby unless the mother has a known or diagnosed disease like HIV or hepatitis. In some cases, the breast milk's color changes to brown, blue or green because of the mom's diet.

Barring any other health or diet concerns, pink breast milk might lead to a psychological issues for some mothers, especially if they have postpartum depression. Thus, the experts suggest counseling intervention if the mother feels intimidated by having to breastfeed with pink breast milk.

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