A mother has shared images of her red breast milk, in order to raise awareness of a surprisingly common issue during breastfeeding.
Tanya Knox shared images of her red milk to Facebook page The Milk Meg earlier this week. It looks unsettling, and Knox says she was shocked when she first saw the color, but the milk is perfectly safe for babies to drink, though it is a sign of a condition that could need medical attention.
We know what you're thinking, but this isn't caused by beetroot.
"My husband nearly fainted," the mother told told MamaMia. “I had pumped strawberry colored milk before in the past but nothing like this."
The unusual color is caused by mastitis, where the breast tissue becomes painful and inflamed. It's fairly common during breastfeeding and is reported by around 10 percent of breastfeeding mothers during the first three months of pregnancy.
It can cause blood clots, which will then change the color of the milk. As you can see in Tanya's post, the blood clot she passed here was fairly large, at roughly the diameter of an Australian 10 cent coin.
“Passing the clot didn’t hurt!" She told The Milk Meg. "I don’t want people to be discouraged from pumping or breastfeeding during mastitis or plugged duct. Our bodies are amazing. I’m still exclusively pumping at 19 months so it certainly didn’t discourage me."
The milk is perfectly safe for the baby to drink, if a little saltier than usual. Mastitis can go completely unnoticed by mothers, who continue to breastfeed normally.
"I could feel mastitis starting to set in and my milk suddenly became really bloody," Knox said of her own experience. "I had no idea I was passing clots until I strained the milk after pumping."
However, mastitis can cause pain and uncomfortable discharge, as well as a collection of pus (a breast abscess) that can in some cases require surgical intervention. If abscesses caused by mastitis become infected, it can cause serious problems, so the NHS advise that you seek advice from a doctor if you suspect you have it.
Other symptoms include swollen breast tissue that's painful to touch, lumps in the breast, burning sensation, and nipple discharge (including streaks of blood). The condition may also cause flu-like symptoms, including fever and aches.
During pregnancy, the condition can be caused by the baby not properly attaching during feeding or by infrequent feeds.