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Men Who Breastfeed

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Did you know that MEN can breastfeed? It's true!

breastfeeding men

The notion of men breastfeeding is bizarre at first ... but doctors say it's entirely possible. Men possess the two most vital components for lactating -- mammary glands and pituitary glands. When those mammary glands are stimulated (by a baby's sucking), they can actually produce milk.

We swear, we're not making this up.

In 2002, a Sri Lankan man named B. Wijeratne lost his wife and was left to care for their 18-month-old daughter. When the child refused powdered milk, Wijeratne tried something different. "Unable to see her cry, I offered my breast," Wijeratne told a Sri Lankan newspaper. "That's when I discovered I could breastfeed."

David Livingstone, the traveler and explorer, notes an instance in Scotland of the male breast yielding milk. In this particular circumstance (way back in 1858), a man's wife had been put to death, and in his extreme desperation, the man put his son to his breast. To his surprise, the man found that his breast produced the needed milk.

In the Aka Pygmy society, a community of approximately 20,000 people who live in Central Africa, fathers commonly suckle their babies.

Even the Bible mentions male nursing. Numbers 11:12 says: "Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?"

In a British survey, nearly one in four (or 24.5 percent of men) in England and Wales said that they would breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, provided that they were physically able to do so.

(We have the perfect thing for them to wear: the male nursing shirt, designed by Ronnie Ã-sterberg.)

This video provides further food for thought:

OB/GYN Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz says, "While it may be theoretically possible for a male to lactate, it is the rare instance where this could actually happen -- and rarer still that it might occur spontaneously in a man NOT on a prolactin-increasing drug (for example, Reglan -- a common acid reflux medicine -- does this, and is used to increase falling milk supplies in nursing moms), or in a man with a pituitary prolactin-secreting tumor," she says.

"I have heard of adoptive moms breast-pumping relentlessly in order to produce milk and I guess a dad could do this too, but I am not sure that either scenario could reliably result in enough milk production to be the sole nutritional source for a newborn," the doctor explains. "Best leave this to good old mom, or invite Salma Hayek over for dinner!"

"God bless that Indonesian dad, though," Dr. Gilberg-Lenz concludes. "Men and women DO share the instinct to protect their children at any cost."

Would you let your husband breastfeed your child?

next: The Littlest Thieves
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