Mom Shocked to Discover Breast Milk Leaking From Her Armpit

TikTok is a hub for discovering new information, and this fact of pregnancy and breastfeeding has certainly come as a surprise to many.

TikTok user Lindsay White (@thelittlemilkbar) and owner of breastfeeding-themed clothing company The Little Milk Bar, shared her experience with producing breast milk through her armpit after childbirth to the tune of four million views.

In the video, White explained how she first noticed that she was lactating from her armpit. "One day I was feeding Allie and I realized her hair was soaking wet. Then I realized it was coming from my armpit. I thought I was just really sweaty, but I noticed this huge lump and though, 'what is that?' so, I squeezed it and holy s**t, milk squirted out.

"I went to the doctor thinking maybe I had a third nipple, but she said, 'Nope, your milk line actually runs all the way up through your armpits."

Breast milk from an armpit might sound surprising, but it's actually more common than most realize. "I thought 'Oh my gosh I have a third nipple,'" White told Newsweek. "I thought for sure I had grown a third nipple since it wasn't there before I had my baby, it was new. But my doctor said that your milk line actually runs from your thighs all the way up to your armpits and it's quite normal for this to happen. Although, she said I'm lucky mine leaks and will relieve the milk. Some women will have this but it won't relieve the milk which can cause all kinds of other problems like clogged ducts, mastitis, etc."

Breast tissue can grow all the way up into the axilla (armpit), and just like regular breast tissue, can produce milk. Having extra breast tissue is called polymastia and a 1999 paper published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that up to six percent of women have it.

Sometimes, it will have an extra nipple or areola but often it won't, and women may only realize they have extra tissue when they become pregnant.

White's video can also be seen in full here.

Registered nurse (RN) and international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) Priscila Medina told BuzzFeed: "This happens because milk glands work just like the body's sweat glands. There are supernumerary — or accessory nipples — that can run from the armpit to the groin. Breast tissue can grow up into the axilla (armpit) and, as Lindsay said, this is known as the Tail of Spence. It's most common for the breast tissue in the armpit to become swollen and leak when a woman's milk is first coming in and she's engorged," she explained.

White explained in a later video that although with her first child she produced milk from just one armpit, both armpits did during her second, during which she leaked from three spots on one side and two on the other.

"I think most women are afraid to talk about it. You sort of feel like you're a mutant and the only one, like something's wrong with you so it's easier to just not talk about it. It's like we're a secret club of mamas," she told Newsweek.

"I wanted to share because I knew I couldn't be the only one. And I haven't seen anyone else really talk about it. I have a large following and thought I had to 'take one for the team' and help spread the word, if no one else is going to talk about it, it might as well be me. I didn't want others to feel alone or freak out if it happened to them. I want them to embrace it rather than be afraid of it. Our bodies are amazing! And motherhood brings out so many surprises. My entire brand The Little Milk Bar is about empowering breastfeeding moms, well, what better way to empower?" she added.

Her advice to viewers finding themselves in the same situation was to express the milk by squeezing and massaging while feeding, use warm washcloths before and during feeding, and to save as much of the milk as you can into a cup. "That stuff is liquid gold," said White.

"I'd say to definitely reach out to your doctor just to make sure everything is okay and you're not having any clogging or unbearable pain. If all is well, just embrace it because it's not going away anytime soon. Mine stayed until I was completely done breastfeeding my baby," she said.

Medina similarly warned BuzzFeed that mothers should seek medical help if they're in a similar situation: "If a lactating person ever finds themselves with very sore, swollen, tender breasts, or tissue up into the armpit and what they are doing doesn't alleviate the pain, I suggest immediately getting in contact with an IBCLC. For any breastfeeding troubles, don't struggle in silence or put it off!"

Woman looking at her armpit
Stock image of a woman's armpit. Getty Images

Update 9/02/21, 11:19 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comment from Lindsay White.