Men Can Breastfeed?!

Men Can Breastfeed?!

I wanted to end World Breastfeeding Week with a futuristic thought of breastfeeding….kind of.

How do you feel about men breastfeeding?

Not possible? Not true.

There is even scholarly literature on the subject!

Male Lactation by Professor Patty Stuart Macadam of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto (Complete Mother, Fall, 1996, Volume 43).

Male breasts have milk ducts. Men also produce oxytocin and prolactin, the hormones you need to produce milk. This can be stimulated using lactation inducing drugs, or merely enough nipple stimulation.

The first time I heard about this was a news story about a Sri Lankan man that lost his wife in childbirth. This is what he said about how he started breastfeeding:

“My eldest daughter refused to be fed with powdered milk liquid in the feeding bottle.”

“I was so moved one evening and to stop her crying I offered my breast. I then realised that I was capable of breastfeeding her.”

He started lactating and he is able to breastfeed his daughter. It was clear that he loved her very much, and I was moved by his story.

Male breastfeeding has also been studied in other mammals….

So, as our culture changes is this perhaps going to be seen in our own society in the future?


Tags assigned to this article:
adoptive breastfeedingbreastfeeding

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13 comments

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  1. Zoe 6 August, 2011, 14:28

    It’s certainly interesting to ponder why men have nipples at all… some evolutionary biologists believe males and females may have both nursed young many, many moons ago.

    However, given the modern problem of being so disconnected from nature and our bodies, I’d rather see more women breastfeeding than lots of efforts made to get men lactating.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie 6 August, 2011, 14:43

      Yeah, I’m with you Zoe.
      I just think people are surprised that both sexes can do it….

      I guess men’s breastmilk has never been studied, so they don’t know if it is even composed of everything that can nourish a child. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be just like female breastmilk, though.

      Reply this comment
      • charlotte 17 February, 2013, 19:35

        actually it has been studied that males produce milk with higher protein content, i dont know where the study is but i’ve heard this in classes i took a while back.

        Reply this comment
  2. chris 24 November, 2011, 00:25

    Men wouldn’t be born with nipples for no reason now would they

    Reply this comment
  3. Amber 15 May, 2012, 11:27

    I found this post interesting. After our first son was born, my husband was teasing me about having “milk” in his breasts one morning. He squeezed his nipple and a bit of milk came out. The look on his face was priceless. I actually drove me to google where I came across the information you posted. Made me realize just how deeply affected my husband was by the birth of our child and I loved him even more.

    Reply this comment
  4. christina 30 June, 2012, 08:24

    I did come across this before and was definitely intrigued – it’s interesting how much what we’re used to affects our perception of things. I mean it definitely seems weird to me, but there is no reason other than not being used to it!

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 2 July, 2012, 07:59

      Yeah, I thought the same thing as you! Now thinking about it a little more I realize I have the same weird view as people have about me breastfeeding Aram. No reason other than I just didn’t understand it….shame on me. Now I view this as a beautiful act of love this father did for his child.

      Reply this comment
  5. Bonna 17 February, 2013, 07:21

    The first thing that I thought of when I read this was “Well, why is there such a push for bottles and formula so that ‘dad can help feed the baby too’ if men CAN breastfeed?” I wish there was better information out there. It’s sad that our society would rather trust our infants to chemically altered cow’s milk than to research male mammary glands. I’m not hating on people who choose to formula. I’m hating on the big corporations for not putting money into the right research to do better for our babies.

    Reply this comment
  6. FosterCareQandA 17 February, 2013, 08:35

    Fascinating! That sure would have made breastfeeding my children easier if I could have shared the burden!

    Reply this comment
  7. Amanda Hammons 17 February, 2013, 10:01

    Reminds me of an Oprah that was on a long time ago about a man who had a sex change. Not only had he saved his sperm from before and had twins with his wife but he had lactation induced and they both fed their babies.

    Reply this comment
  8. Jenny 17 February, 2013, 19:51

    @Chris
    “Men wouldn’t be born with nipples for no reason now would they”
    They’re vestigial- evolutionary leftovers. And yes, we can wind up with body parts/ mutations that aren’t useful. As long as it doesn’t kill you or make it impossible for you to breed it can be passed on even if it’s not useful.

    Reply this comment
    • Lindsay 24 February, 2013, 02:12

      Not just vestigial-evolutionary leftovers if they are actually functioning though are they.

      Reply this comment
  9. Annie Wendt 22 April, 2014, 07:22

    My husband REALLY wants to breastfeed. He is the stay at home dad and I work (and pump at work), but he wants to have the comforting superpower of nursing and the closeness. He is determined to try with the next baby, I’ll let you know if it works!!

    Reply this comment

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