Breast milk is amazing. Made from a parent's own body, it is able to sustain an infant for the first six months or so of life. But what does it mean when your “liquid gold” is green? Instagram user @ashmiry_, a mom of two in New Jersey, recently went viral after she posted a picture of two storage bags of breast milk. The bag on the left was labeled “Regular Breast Milk,” while the bag on the right was labeled “Covid 19 Positive Breast Milk.” Whereas the left bag was the creamy white color one would generally associate with milk, the right bag was a distinct, pale green color.
In the post, which went viral after being posted by Australia-based CPRKids’ Facebook page on Jan. 14 though the photos were actually taken in January 2021, she shared that three members of her family — her husband Jesse, her baby daughter Rubi, and herself — all tested positive for Covid-19. (Her oldest child, Mia, continued to test negative.)
“At first I was in shock because you’re telling me I’ve quarantined for eleven months, eleven months my children have been home with me away from the world to then get COVID?” she wrote on Instagram. “Was I angry? Heck yeah. Infuriated to say the least. Scared? Absolutely.”
But, she went on to note that she took heart in seeing the difference in her breast milk before and after her diagnosis: the color change, she observed, “let me know something was going on in my body and my [baby’s]. How amazing is breast milk; it’s magical and I’m so thankful to be able to produce it, especially now! The color change indicates that my body is making exactly what Rubi needs! Antibodies, extra fatty and just pure goodness.”
While green milk seems like something relegated to Star Wars, Krystal Nicole Duhaney, a Registered Nurse, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and the founder and CEO of Milky Mama, tells Romper that breast milk can be “basically every color of the rainbow.” Blue, yellow, pink and yes, even green milk are perfectly normal (if not typical). Duhaney says she most commonly sees green-hued breast milk among vegan and vegetarian moms whose diet is rich with dark, leafy greens, but not exclusively.
“I’ve also seen moms that have recently either contracted a virus like Covid or the flu or something and their breast milk is either a really deep yellow or even green-ish,” she says. But she is wary of linking green milk (or any other color) to the presence of antibodies.
“It’s possible,” she says carefully, stressing that more research needs to be done on the properties of breast milk in general and breast milk in relation to Covid. “There isn’t a specific study saying ‘Yes, this is what happened and this is why it’s that color.’ It’s really important to know that some moms associate the change in color with an increase in antibodies and moms whose milk didn’t change color may think their milk doesn’t have any antibodies at all, but that’s not true.”
In fact, a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that Covid-19 antibodies were still present in the breast milk of nursing mothers after recovery (no specific mention of green milk there, so it’s probably safe to say it’s true of any color). These findings support the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that nursing parents continue to breastfeed their children even if they have tested positive for Covid-19 or have been determined to be a close contact. Added precautions, however, are recommended, including hand washing before handling bottles or baby, masking while feeding your child, and diligent sanitization of all pump parts and/or bottles, cups, or whatever feeding item is being used.
“There are very few illness that you would have to interrupt or stop breastfeeding for, and Covid is definitely not one of them,” says Duhaney. “Your milk is full of those wonderful antibodies.”
Yes, even if your milk doesn’t turn green.
Krystal Nicole Duhaney, RN, IBCLC and founder and CEO of Milky Mama.