It can be frightening to find blood in breast milk. The general reaction to blood in any situation is distress and concern. You may be worried that the blood signifies a serious medical condition or you may be nervous that the blood can hurt your baby.
In most cases of blood in breastmilk, the only treatment is time. There is usually not much pain, unless the nipples are cracked or injured, or the breast tissue is very tender due to engorgement.
The bleeding will not harm your baby and it is fine to keep breastfeeding. Blood in breast milk is not uncommon. In cases during late pregnancy or during the first weeks after child birth, the blood is usually due to broken capillaries and intraductal papillomas.
In some cases it may appear that there is blood in the milk when it is actually coming from a cracked or sore nipple . Your baby will not be harmed by swallowing this blood and it will pass through in your baby’s stool.
Causes of Blood in Breast Milk
“Vascular engorgement” or Rusty Pipe Syndrome
The blood is caused by slight internal bleeding due to increased blood flow and development of the breast tissue in late pregnancy and is most common in first time mothers. It is more common in both breasts though it can happen in one breast. It is usually painless. This form of blood in the breast milk has been nicknamed, rusty-pipe syndrome, due to the rusty color of the milk.
Rough handling of the breast tissues as seen in improper use of a breast pump has been known to cause blood in breast milk.
Benign, harmless tumors in the milk ducts may cause bleeding. Such a tumor is usually only found in one breast and does not cause lumps that can be felt. Sometimes intraductal papillomas are painful. The bleeding usually stops on its own without any kind of treatment.
It can be reassuring to consult a medical doctor about finding blood in your breast milk.
The blood will not harm your baby and it is recommended to continue breastfeeding as usual.