Have you noticed little bumps on your breast that encircle the area around your nipple (areola)?
Have you ever wondered what they are and what they are for?
Those little bumps are called Montgomery glands.
These little bumps may have several important functions.
Some women wonder if the changes they have noticed are a sign of pregnancy.
So, what do montgomery glands do and what are they for?
Do they signal pregnancy?
Here are 7 interesting facts about Montgomery glands.
#1: There’s An Average Of Nine On Each Areola
Women have an average of nine Montgomery glands on each areola. Although some women have none and others have up to 38.
More Montgomery glands are located on the upper outer part of the areola. Interestingly, this is the area towards which a baby’s nose is often pointed when breastfeeding.
#2: They Get Bigger During Pregnancy
Most mothers notice that their Montgomery glands become more prominent during pregnancy.
Clearly, they must increase in size because they have an important role to play when your baby is born.
#3: They Are Important For Lubrication
Montgomery glands produce oily secretions that help to keep your areola and nipple lubricated and protected.
This is the reason why is it often suggested to not wash your nipple/areola area with soap.
#4: They Help Reduce Infection Risk
The oily secretion that Montgomery glands produce also contains antimicrobial factors that help prevent germs growing.
#5: Milk Might Leak From Them
About 20% of breastfeeding mothers report seeing breastmilk coming from their Montgomery glands.
Indeed, Montgomery glands consist of both milk glands and sebaceous (sweat) glands.
#6: They Are Important To Help Your Baby Find Your Breast
Perhaps the most interesting function of Montgomery glands is their possible role in helping to establish breastfeeding by assisting your baby to find your breast.
Straight after a baby is born and is placed on her mother’s chest in skin-to-skin contact, she displays natural instincts to seek out her mother’s breast and self-attach. This important imprinting and learning a baby does at this time is very beneficial and can help prevent attachment problems as you learn together how to breastfeed successfully.
A baby’s sense of smell is her most important sense to help her find your breasts. The smell of amniotic fluid (which is familiar to the baby) is supposedly similar to the secretion produce by Montgomery glands. It could be the smell of the secretion from the Montgomery glands that helps guide your baby to your breasts.
Interestingly, the more Montgomery glands a mother has, the less time it takes for her baby to pick up the scent from them. Therefore it takes her less time to attach and begin feeding.
#7: Montgomery Glands Can Get Infected
Though they contain antimicrobial properties, it is possible to get an infected Montgomery gland. An infected Montgomery gland may be sore, look red and/or yellow and be larger than usual.
If you suspect an infected Montgomery gland, see your doctor who will likely prescribe an antibacterial ointment.
As we go through pregnancy and motherhood, we learn how even seemingly trivial bumps can play such important roles in helping us to nourish our babies. From lubricating to prevent irritation, to guiding our baby's with their scent, these little bumps aid in successful breastfeeding.