It’s tricky enough to get the hang of breastfeeding, but a second-time mum in Austria got the shock of her life when she discovered that she was also producing milk … down there.
Rest assured, this is a rare case, but the 29-year-old mum-of-two is proof that it does happen. Doctors at Kepler University Hospital in Austria said they treated the women five days post birth after she’d been complaining of swelling and pain in her vulva.
Finding the source of pain
She’d suffered some tearing during birth and stitches in two areas and was also putting up with swelling and pain in her vulva. “At the time of transfer, that patient reported that, on postpartum day four, she developed discharge of a milky white fluid bilaterally on the vulva,” the team Obstetrics and Gynecologic Endocrinology explained.
“She noticed a rising swelling on both sides, right and left, reaching from the labia majora to the labia minora and extending as far as the perineal area close to the anus within 4 days after delivery.”
At first, the doctors thought the substance had something to do with her stitches. But then the mum mentioned that she’d had a similar thing happen after her first baby.
The experts then had another conclusion. That she had what’s known as ectopic breast tissue – in her vulva. An ultrasound discovered that they were right. Although her vulva obviously doesn’t have nipples, there was a duct and it was excreting milk.
How does a vulva lactate?
It may sound strange, but according to ScienceAlert, if you look at the development of human breasts, it’s plain to see how it happens.
We have what’s called an embryonic milk line or mammary ridge, something all mammals have. While we’re embryos, our bodies form nipples and some of us will also form mammary glands and breast tissue along this line during puberty. That’s what causes some people to have third nipples. Here’s the kicker – nipples and breast tissue can form anywhere along the milk lines, so while rare, lactating from the vulva is possible.
So it seems in this case, the stitches had caused the mum’s milk to get backed up and cause her pain. The doctors took out the stitches from the ectopic breast tissue and gave her antibiotics. She was able to continue breastfeeding without a problem. Amazing.
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