What are Montgomery's Tubercles?

What are the little pimple-like bumps that have become more noticeable around my areola? Do they have a special purpose?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Soon after a woman finds out that she is pregnant, she will begin to notice some dramatic changes in her breasts. The glands of Montgomery, or Montgomery's tubercles, are the tiny "bumps" that are scattered around the areola (the darker area which rings the nipple). During pregnancy these glands enlarge and they remain enlarged while breastfeeding. They can vary greatly in number, averaging between 4 and 28 per areola. Montgomery originally described these glands as "a constellation of miniature nipples scattered over a milky way."

It is believed that these sebaceous, or oil-producing glands, secrete a lubricating and protective substance, altering the skin's pH and discouraging bacterial growth (Williams 1992). These glands also secrete a small amount of milk (Lawrence 1995). This lubrications helps to keep the skin healthy and the areola elastic.

To preserve the antibacterial function of Montgomery's tubercles, rinsing with clear water while bathing is sufficient. Use of soap on the breasts is unnecessary and may remove these protective oils. My best wishes in mothering!

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