Motherhood is a labour of love that can take blood, sweat and tears — literally.
Thai actress Panward Hemmanee, 39, recently gave fans a scare when she uploaded an Instagram post of her bloodied breastmilk after using a pump.
The post featured a video of a bottle of blood-red milk, a photo of blood clots on a dish, and the caption "Why is there a blood clot coming out?"
While some fans responded that they had faced the same issue before, others were concerned and urged Panward to see a doctor.
[Warning: Graphic image below]
Panward, who has a son and a daughter, opened up about her experience to Thai media at an event yesterday (Sept 4), explaining that her doctor told her that she had been using a breast pump incorrectly.
According to her doctor, she had been using a suction that was too strong, which resulted in broken capillaries and cracked nipples. The blood from the damaged capillaries then leaked into the breast milk.
"I misunderstood that pumping with the strongest pressure would clear my milk better and faster to prevent clogging," Panward said in Thai.
"I was trying to endure the pain, thinking that it's normal. But now I know that it is not necessary… I must admit that although I am a mother of two children, there are still a lot of things I don't know yet," she added.
Panward also shared that she had continued pumping breastmilk after her doctor had reassured her that it wasn't a serious problem.
While Panward's situation isn't all that rare among breastfeeding mums, her post shined a spotlight on the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding.
BLOOD IN BREASTMILK IS COMMON
It can be scary for mums to see blood in their milk but registered nurse Donna Murray maintains that there is no need to worry.
Causes range from damaged nipples and broken capillaries, like Panward's case, or conditions like mastitis, an infection which affects up to 20 per cent of breastfeeding mums.
Mums can continue breastfeeding and giving their babies pumped milk even if it is tinged with a bit of blood.
However, mums with infections that can be transmitted through blood, such as viral hepatitis and HIV, should check with their doctor before breastfeeding.
PUMPING SHOULDN'T HURT
While it is normal to experience brief pain and some tenderness at the start of each pumping, mums should seek help if they are experiencing constant pain.
Experts say that common mistakes that can cause pumping to hurt include using an incorrect speed or flanges of the wrong size. Mums may even end up damaging their breast and nipple tissue.