When a baby is nursing, the mother making the breastmilk doesn't really get a chance to inspect the milk that is nourishing her child, but when you're a pumping mama it's easy to become obsessed with the content of those little bottles.
For some moms, the amount of ounces in the bottles becomes a source of concern, while others take note of every color change. That was the case for a mother in the UK who recently posted a photo of two pump bottles. The bottle on the left shows milk that's more of a cream color, while the bottle on the right is filled with milk that has a bit of a blue tint to it.
The mother who posted the photo to Facebook did not expect it to go viral, but it did. It spread in part due to her claim that the second bottle, pumped two days after her child received a round of vaccinations, is blue because her baby got those shots. It's an interesting theory, but it's not that simple.
"It's blue from all the antibodies my body is producing as it thinks she's sick with what she was vaccinated against! When she feeds her saliva sends signals to my body to produce more milk with illness specific antibodies," the mother wrote.
The idea that a baby's saliva can trigger changes in breastmilk was popularized in 2015 and several mothers have posted viral images and claims similar to the above, but even scientists who study breastmilk say the idea that baby saliva changes breastmilk is still a hypothesis or a scientific work in progress. There's a lot of good science backing this up, but it can't be used to back up this claim.
As this photo has gone viral, doctors and midwives have suggested that the color difference in the photograph is more likely due to the mother's diet or timing of her pump session than her child's vaccinations. "It is well known that breast milk can change colour particularly with changes in mums diet," Ian Currie, a consultant gynecologist at BMI The Chiltern Hospital in Buckinghamshire tells Yahoo UK. Yahoo UK.
Just last month, a study was published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine which found that green breast milk can be caused by maternal ingestion of blue-green algae pills, a common supplement taken by many vegans and vegetarians. And sometimes breastmilk looks blue when it's actually just thinner, perhaps because it was pumped earlier in a session or at a different time of day.
The mom who posted this viral image disputes suggestions that her breastmilk's color change could be attributed to anything other than the vaccinations, but there are no scientific studies linking vaccinations to changes in breastmilk composition. "My milk isn't this colour from what I've eaten (not had anything artificially coloured/no supplements/no green vegetables), my milk is only ever this colour when my daughter has been sick...it's never been like it when she's be[een] well," the mom writes.
She may be certain that her child's shots triggered the change in breastmilk, but there's just not enough science to back that up and plenty of other reasons why this could have happened. It's important for mothers who are seeing this viral image to know that.
There is still so much we don't know about breastmilk and how it works, but we do know that as long as you're feeding your baby (whether that's breastmilk, formula or a combo of both) you're doing a great job.