I have an extra nipple

Ask Anne…

Question: My first baby was born three days ago. My milk has come in and breastfeeding is going well. My nipples are tender but not sore, and my breasts are full but not engorged.  

However, today I noticed something strange and I’m worried.

I have what looks like a little nipple underneath my left breast.  It’s been there since I was a little girl, and  I thought it was just a mole. Now it’s gotten larger and a bit tender, and I’m wondering – is it possible to have an extra nipple?

Answer: It’s estimated that as many as 40% of babies, both male and females, are born with an extra (‘supernumary’) nipple. This third nipple is located along the ‘milk lines’, and is actually more common in men than in women.

BFB Photo extra nipple

‘Milk lines’ are ridges that develop in all mammals when they are embryos. They run up and down both sides of the body, from the armpit to the groin, much  like the nipples of a mama dog who is nursing a litter of puppies.

FBAR mama nursing lots of pupsSometimes all nipples along the milk line don’t disappear during fetal development, and a human baby may be born with an extra.

These nipples are usually visible at birth, but are usually so small and underdeveloped that they look like moles or freckles.

Female babies are sometimes born with extra breast tissue as well, most often under the armpit where extra mammary glands are located. The extra nipple or tissue is much smaller and less developed than that of the breasts,  and rarely interferes with breastfeeding.

BFB Woman extra breast tissue arm 2014

This extra, or ‘accessory’ tissue not connected to the breasts, and in most cases doesn’t produce breast milk, but it is possible to have some swelling and leaking when the milk ‘comes in’.

Many mothers don’t know they have an extra nipple until after they become pregnant or give birth and see changes due to hormones, like darkening of the areola, swelling, or discharge. If swelling or engorgement does occur, it’s usually mild and disappears after the milk comes in and breastfeeding is established.

Some women choose to have the extra breast tissue or nipple removed surgically, but this is rarely a medical necessity, but rather a matter of cosmetics.

Interesting side note: there are some celebrities like Mark Walhberg, Harry Styles, and Carrie Underwood who are members of “The Triple Nipple Club”.  :-)

http://www.buzzfeed.com/kimberleydadds/7-celebrities-who-are-in-the-triple-nipple-club#.knjpYLqaY

Anne Smith, IBCLC

Breastfeeding Basics

 

About Anne Smith, IBCLC

As the mother of six wonderful breastfed children, three perfect breastfed grand babies, and an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) with over twenty-five years experience in lactation counseling, I can offer you professional support, as well as information and advice based on my personal experiences over the years.

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