All breastfeeding parents, both current and former, are all too familiar with the dreaded but inevitable side effect of nursing a baby: engorgement. A newly postpartum mama of triplets is going viral on TikTok for showing the rare location of her own engorgement—her armpits.
Linda Jones is a 39-year-old mother of six after giving birth to triplets earlier this month. Though all three babies, born at 34 weeks gestation, are currently in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), she's determined to feed them breastmilk—so she's been pumping. And pumping. And pumping.
"The first couple times I tried to pump I got some colostrum," Jones tells TODAY Parents, referring to the first form of breast milk produced by a lactating parent. "And then after that, nothing was happening. The lactation specialist told me, 'Oh, just keep pumping. It'll come in. It'll come in.' So I still kept pumping every 2-3 hours. But I was just pumping air—there was nothing happening."
Those early days right after delivery can be so hard when it comes to breastfeeding, because some mamas wait days before their milk full arrives. Jones says she felt her milk come in after a couple of days of pumping. But everything went awry on day three.
"I was in so much pain, my armpits were filled up, and my breasts were huge," she says. "Just rock hard."
In her first TikTok video documenting her engorgement on day six postpartum, you can see that what she experienced is far different than the typical rock-hard, excruciatingly full breasts. The official term for this phenomenon: pitties.
Though it seems weird, it's actually not that weird. You know how your gynecologist always recommends checking your armpits for lumps during your self-breast exams? Well, there's a reason why. Mammary tissue can extend past the mammaries.
Lobules are the milk-producing clusters found in your body. Parents who lactate typically have 15-20 lobules per breast. But sometimes, like in Jones' case, they're found in the armpits. When these lobules are blocked, they become engorged.
According to Healthline, you can relieve "pitties" the same way as you would if your breasts were engorged:
- Apply a warm, wet compress to the affected breast.
- Take warm baths or hot showers several times a day, if possible.
- Gently massage the breast to help release the clog before and between feedings.
- Apply ice packs to the affected area after breastfeeding.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing that isn’t irritating to your breasts or nipples.
If at-home remedies don't work or you're unsure of what to do, always contact your medical provider for help.
Jones shared an update on her own armpit engorgement this week, two weeks postpartum. She was able to see a lactation specialist, who advised her to use a combination of compresses and massage. While she still has some "squishy sacs," as she calls them, they are considerably smaller and no longer causing her pain.
Set yourself up for success—combatting pitties and all!—with these mom-approved breastfeeding products.