A mother has told of her shock after her breast milk turned neon green when she and her baby contracted Covid-19.
As Anna Cortez, 23, from Monterrey, Mexico, fought off the infection, she explained that her milk gradually got lighter and went back to its normal shade shortly after she tested negative for coronavirus.
She was informed by her paediatrician, who is also a lactation consultant, that the colour change may have been a result of her body’s natural antibodies fighting off Covid to protect her daughter Mikayla, then four months.
Midwives have said breast milk can change colour slightly as a result of a diet rich in leafy greens or medication.
Anna, an English teacher who is studying psychology, was assured her milk was still safe despite its green hue, which she noticed after pumping it and putting it in the freezer.
Speaking to the Mirror, Anna said she eats a lot of greens but hadn’t changed her eating habits while battling Covid, and her milk is normally always white.
‘I talked to my daughter’s paediatrician, who is also a lactation consultant, and she said it is common when the mum gets sick, or when the baby gets sick with a cold or stomach virus, that the mum’s milk will change and adapt with antibodies,’ she told the publication.
‘The reason it was so noticeable in this case is because the virus is so strong.’
Anna, Mikayla and other members of her family contracted Covid last month. Anna lost her sense of taste and smell and experienced cold-like symptoms while her daughter developed a cough and a fever, but recovered after a few days.
Four days before she started to experience symptoms, Anna said her breast milk was still white.
The next time she pumped, by which point she felt dehydrated and her supply was reduced, she was infected.
She didn’t notice the colour change immediately, but when she took a sachet out of the freezer she spotted it looked different.
‘It had almost a neon sheen to it,’ she told the Mirror. ‘I was like, “What the heck is this?” I didn’t know what was going on.
‘I kept pumping and kept watching while I was sick. Throughout the whole time I was positive (with coronavirus), the milk was green.’
Anna shared photos of the milk on Facebook and said other mothers got in touch to say they’d experienced the same thing when they were unwell.
The images were then shared by Milky Mama, a company in California that makes biscuits, brownies and other products that help milk production, and subsequently went viral.
One mother commented on the post: ‘I was sick and tested negative for Covid but had all the symptoms. Now I am looking at this pic and wondering if that is why I thought my breast milk then had a neon green glow.’
‘This had me go look through mine and I see the greenish colour too,’ wrote another.
And one remarked: ‘Freaking awesome! Our bodies are amazing! We were positive and nursed through! Freaking incredible!’
Anna added that she was advised to continue breastfeeding even after testing positive for Covid because it’s the best thing for her daughter and if she became ill, the breast milk would help her fight it.
Current evidence suggests that it is safe to breastfeed and continue to offer breastmilk if you have COVID-19.
Experts have said the long-term well established benefits of breastfeeding, including the protection it provides against many illnesses, are highly likely to outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breastmilk.
Dr Natalie Shenker, a breast milk researcher at Imperial College London and co-founder of the Human Milk Foundation, told the Mirror: ‘We do know that women who are infected with Covid do generate antibodies against Covid and those antibodies go into the milk in over 90 per cent of women.’
She added that the actual virus doesn’t go into the milk.
A study of 15 lactating mothers who had recovered from Covid-19 last year, reported in iScience, found antibodies specifically bound to Covid-19 in their breast milk.
If you have confirmed COVID-19 or have symptoms, the advice is to take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to your baby, including washing your hands before touching your baby, sterilising any breast pumps or bottles and washing your hands after changing their nappy. You might also want to consider wearing a face covering or fluid-resistant face mask while feeding or caring for the baby.