Transgender woman breastfeeds baby exclusively for six weeks

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  Last updated February 14, 2018 at 2:46 pm


World’s first reported case of induced lactation in a transgender woman.

Credit: iStock

A transgender mother has been able to breastfeed her child and was the baby’s exclusive source of nourishment for the first six weeks of its life.

It is “the first formal report in the medical literature of induced lactation in a transgender woman”, the authors of a report detailing the case say.

Breast is best

Breastfeeding plays an important immunological, metabolic, and psychosocial role for both mother and baby.

There has been an interest among parents to induce lactation and breastfeed adopted children but the same has not been available to transgender women.

Some in the transgender community are opting for DIY medication regimes to induce milk production and breast development.

Working closely with the transgender community, scientists at the Mt. Sinai Centre for Transgender Medicine and Surgery induced lactation in a 30-year-old transgender woman.

“She explained that her partner was pregnant but not interested in breastfeeding, and that she hoped to take on the role of being the primary food source for her infant,” the report says.

Repurposing drugs

The report outlined the medication and pumping routine required to induce lactation in transgender women using “off-label” drugs — those which are developed for other purposes than inducing milk production.

Initially, the scientists put their patient on 10 milligrams of domperidone (a drug used to induce lactation) three times a day and instructed her to use a breast pump for five minutes three times a day.

One month later, the patient could produce milk droplets, so the researchers increased her domperidone and hormone dosages, and upped the breast pumping to six times daily.

Another month later and a few days before the birth of the child, the patient was producing 230 mL of milk a day and able to provide sufficient volume of breast milk to feed exclusively for six weeks.

Optimal treatment regimen

“During that time the child’s paediatrician reported that the child’s growth, feeding, and bowel habits were developmentally appropriate,” the report reads.

After six weeks the transgender woman began supplementing breastfeeding with formula due to concerns about insufficient milk volume but continued to breastfeed alongside formula.

“At the time of this article submission, the baby is approaching six months old. The patient continues to breastfeed as a supplement to formula feeding, and she continues to adhere to the medication regimen,” says the report.

It’s clear that more research needs to be done to discover the optimal treatment regimen as their report notes that they are unsure “whether all of the aforementioned components of the patient’s medication regimen were necessary to achieve lactation”.

The report comes as welcome news and is huge for the transgender community and those within it who want to be able to breastfeed their children.

The case study was reported in Transgender Health.

About the Author

Andy Stapleton
Andrew Stapleton is a scientist and science communicator based in Adelaide. He is a presenter and producer of the popular podcast Publish, Perish or Podcast, posts weekly science articles on his website and has written for Australasian Science, Cosmos Magazine and ScienceAlert.