Many things about your body change when you are pregnant. Next to your rapidly swelling belly, the next in line for these big changes are your breasts. They’ll become bigger, denser, and more sensitive.
Your nipples will also become bigger, darker in colour and even change shape. But one of the more subtle changes that you may not think is a sign of pregnancy are those tiny bumps on the areola when pregnant.
What are these tiny bumps that appear on your areolas? Do they have a function? To find out what exactly these bumps around your nipple are, we’ve made a complete guide to help you become more informed about them.
We’ll be discussing what every mum should know such as its function, why they appear at all as well as when you should worry.
Montgomery’s Tubercles: What Every Mum Should Know
The dark area around your nipple, also known as the areola, has tiny sebaceous (oil) glands. They appear as small bumps that you may or may not notice before pregnancy. These are known as Montgomery tubercles (or areolar glands).
These glands become larger and raised during pregnancy, almost like tiny pimples or goosebumps. Just like each woman has a unique breast, nipple and areola shape and size, Montgomery tubercles also differ in size and quantity from person to person.
Pregnant women might notice anywhere between just two to 28 or more tubercles per areola.
What Is The Function Of Montgomery Tubercles?
Similar to the way oil glands on the rest of your body function to keep the skin lubricated and hydrated, Montgomery tubercles too work in the same way.
When you are breastfeeding in particular, they produce secretions rich in lipids that lubricate your nipples. Importantly, this secretion functions as a barrier against infection, protecting both your breast milk and your baby.
In addition to creating a protective coating, the secretion produced by Montgomery tubercles also releases a scent that helps guide your newborn to your nipples.
This is why it’s important that breastfeeding mums do not use soap to wash their nipples. By doing this, you risk washing off this important, germ-fighting barrier.
You should also avoid applying any disinfectants or other substances to your nipples. Cleaning them with water is more than enough. Otherwise, you can just rub a few drops of breast milk on your nipples and let it dry.
Image Source: Shutterstock
Why Do Montgomery Tubercles Enlarge In Pregnancy?
You’re probably also wondering why these enlarge during your pregnancy. Just as everything else in your body goes through hormonal changes when you have a baby going inside of you, even your breasts go through such changes.
When do Montgomery Tubercles appear in pregnancy?
According to Healthline, Montgomery’s tubercles can be seen in early pregnancy. These small bumps may be noticeable even before you’ve missed your period.
Because as your body releases hormones to accommodate your baby and prepare for giving birth, they also prepare the breasts for lactation and breastfeeding.
As part of these changes in your breasts, Montgomery tubercles too will change, becoming more prominent and raised. There is rarely pain associated with this but you might find that your areolas are more sensitive than ever.
Having Montgomery Tubercles But Not Pregnant
But while it can be an early sign of pregnancy, not every woman who experiences Montgomery’s tubercles is pregnant.
Other factors can also contribute to the appearance of these tiny bumps such as hormonal imbalance, stress or significant weight change.
Since its appearance has something to do with increased hormones, you may also notice Montgomery’s Tubercles before your period arrives.
If the Montgomery Tubercles are noticeable yet you are sure you aren’t pregnant, do not hesitate to consult your doctor about getting your hormone levels checked.
Signs Of Infection In Montgomery Tubercles
While the Montgomery glands’ main purpose is to help to kill germs and keep the areola clean, irritation and infection cannot be completely prevented, especially for sore and cracked nipples. So it’s important to not only check the nipple area but the area around the areola as well.
Once you know what’s normal, it will be easy for you to spot any irregularities or infections. Do keep an eye out for:
- Painful swelling around your nipples
- Extremely enlarged Montgomery tubercles
If you notice any of these signs or anything unusual at all around your breasts, you should see a doctor immediately.
Will These Tiny Bumps Ever Go Away?
Yes, they will, usually once you are done with breastfeeding. They are a completely normal part of healthy breast anatomy and indicate your breasts are functioning properly.
Image Source: Pexels
Montgomery Tubercles Care and Treatment
They may look disturbing at first, but these tiny bumps are harmless and their presence should not bother you at all, pregnant and breastfeeding mum.
However, if you’d rather turn to home remedies to reduce their size and appearance, you can try the following:
- Soak a small towel in warm water and press it against your nipples every night for around 20 minutes
- Apply shea butter or aloe vera gel around your nipples
- Drink plenty of water each day
- Reduce sugar and salt intake that could contribute to the enlarging of the tubercles.
To care for your nipple area, especially your Montgomery Tubercles while pregnant or breastfeeding, here are some things to remember:
- Leave them alone. You may not like how they look, but they are there for a purpose. So as long as your nipples and areola are soft and healthy, leave those tiny bumps alone. As mentioned earlier, they will be less noticeable after giving birth and breastfeeding.
- Observe proper hygiene. Don’t forget to keep the area clean by washing your breasts with warm water and a mild cleanser. Avoid using soaps that can wash away the natural protective substance secreted by your Montgomery glands.
- Avoid popping. It may be tempting to pick on these tiny bumps that look like pimples or whiteheads, but resist the urge to pop them as doing so may cause an infection, especially if you have dirty hands.
- Do not apply acne medication. Most acne medications have ingredients that dry out your areola, and more importantly, may be harmful if ingested. Avoid putting them anywhere near your breasts if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Practice caution when using nipple creams, lotions, or ointments on your breasts to try to prevent nipple problems. Unless you have very sore, cracked nipples, or an infection, these products are not necessary, and might even make the problems worse.
If you have a breast or nipple issue, talk to your doctor before trying to treat the problem on your own.
Some women do have prominent Montgomery tubercles without being pregnant or breastfeeding. If this is the case and you are bothered by them, then you may speak to a doctor about correcting hormonal imbalances and removing them surgically.
If you have any concerns about the appearance of your breasts or any changes you’ve noticed during your pregnancy, do not hesitate to consult your doctor.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.