Lactating Man

While it is indeed not common in our society, the lactating man is a genuine phenomenon. Lactation can occur spontaneously, or it can be induced.

Lactation that occurs spontaneously should be checked out by a doctor. There are several medical reasons for this, including a tumor on the pituitary gland.

Hormone problems can also be a serious issue that may need to be checked out by a physician. A lactating man who is not producing milk by choice should seek medical advice to rule out any other conditions.

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Men Breastfeeding

While the phenomenon of a man lactating is not necessarily new, it is not something that is often talked about in today’s culture. However, as more and more men take an active and equal role in the parenting of their children, a man breastfeeding his children is bound to get more attention.

Several articles talk about adult men breastfeeding their children after inducing the production of milk through breast pumps, supplemental nursing systems, and even the power of the mind. With more men supporting breastfeeding, the occurrence of breastfeeding men increases.

Induced lactation in men is not much different than inducing lactation in an adoptive mother. Although a woman’s breasts are designed to respond to nipple stimulation more quickly and with more milk than a mans, it is possible for men to breastfeed.

Lactation is induced through the use of a breast pump beginning a few months before starting the breastfeeding relationship, making sure that the nipples get plenty of stimulation. To create milk, the lactating man needs to create a surge in the hormone prolactin. This is done by pumping on both "breasts" every few hours, and it is also beneficial to pump once or twice during the night as well, to maintain the levels of prolactin.

Once the baby is born, or it is time to commence the breastfeeding relationship, the baby can provide the nipple stimulation by suckling directly at the breast in combination with a supplemental nursing system that delivers either breast milk or formula to the baby’s mouth via a small tube attached to his nipple. This is the same kind of system that is used for adopted babies.

If the prolactin levels are maintained, it is possible for a lactating man to produce enough milk to nurse exclusively in the early month, but supplementation with formula or donor milk is likely to be necessary.

It is hard to say if the occurrence of men and breastfeeding will be more common in the future, but there is definitely a growing interest in the possibility of men breastfeeding their children, if only in theory.

By Katelynne Shepard

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