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Both partners breastfeeding?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've lurked on the forums for a while, but this is my first post
I'm pretty sure this post belongs here rather than in the Breastfeeding forums, but mods please move it if not.

It will be a few years before my girlfriend and I have kids, but we're wondering about breastfeeding. I will be the one getting pregnant, and I intend to breastfeed, but we're keen for her to breastfeed the baby too. She feels it would be a really important way for her to bond with the baby, especially if we were using donor sperm (we intend to freeze her sperm and use that (she's transitioning MtF, starting hormones soon), but would be using donor sperm if that wasn't possible).

So I suppose my question is - are there any couples out there who both breastfeed? What are the dynamics like? This might sound silly, but would the milk be different in the partner who'd been pregnant and the one who hadn't? Is there anything else we need to consider?

I'm here to learn
post #2 of 15
Hi Sarah-
I don't know much about both partners breastfeeding but I have read about it on a few blogs - here is a great one - http://firsttimesecondtime.blogspot.com/
and i think the author posts on this forum sometimes.
good luck!
post #3 of 15
Kudos to you for thinking and talking about the future well in advance!

The milk would be different, I believe, but that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. Now, I'm thinking that there may be differences because she'll be post-transition MtF, but I'm not sure what those would be. It sounds like you may need a very specialized group of "experts" to know much about that. I wish I had better advice for you, but mostly I just wanted to say that I think she'll have the best of all worlds! Sperm now to freeze and be ready for biology later, plus breasts to feed once babies come along! How cool is that?!? Awesome!
post #4 of 15
Lyn here, from first time second time (thanks for the shout out citygirl!)

We are a two mom family who have both nursed our second child, now 5 months old. My wife carried and nursed our first and re-lactated for our second using the newman-goldfarb protocol after a little less than two years withiut nursing (birth control pills for 4-5 months, domperidone & herbs to stimulate milk production, lots and lots and lots of pumping for 4-6 weeks). I believe my wife mentioned reading of an MTF successfully lactating on this protocol. She collected links to the protocol we used and some other info in this post:


If you click the "inducing lactation" tag, you'll get to a whole slew of other posts. We wrote about it a lot. I could imagine doing this would be quite meaningful as an MTF, but don't kid yourself, having two women nursing is not quite the wonderful fantasy world it sounds like (at least if one of you is hoping to induce lactation to actually produce milk -- in contrast to using a supplemental nurser -- but this sounds like what you are hoping for). There is a lot of work and a LOT of pumping involved, first for my wife before she was feeding (~ 5 times a day for many weeks) and now for me to maintain my supply for the feedings my wife covers (as the main source of food, we want to be careful not to risk my supply). Now that I'm back at work (3 days away from baby), this is less of an issue, since I'd be pumping anyway. There are also a lot of negotiations and logistics to work out, in terms of who feeds and who pumps when, and the baby has to learn to nurse from two people, likely with different "flow" and nipple/breast shape. Good communication between partners is an absolute must. Also essential is a commitment on the part of the pregnant/nursing partner for the non-gestational parent to nurse, which it sounds like you may have. It can be hard to step aside while someone else nurses your baby, even if that someone is your loving partner, and is also your baby's mother.

I hope I'm not sounding too discouraging. This has absolutely been a great thing for our family, and I could imagine it would be particularly nice for your partner, but you should not head in thinking it's a sure thing that she will be able to produce much milk, let alone a full supply, especially with the added challenge of being FTM (Gail is producing about 8 oz a day right now, she has been as high as 12 oz, and that's a pretty good response from what we can tell).

There are other good nursing options that stop short of a full induction protocol though. Comfort nursing is wonderful and delightfully low-pressure (I did some comfort nursing for our first) as are feedings with a supplemental nurser (like the Medela SNS or the Lact-Aid). Gail used the SNS for some early feedings, and I believe Lex here at MDC has used a Lact-Aid to supplement with her new baby (and they are also a two-nursing-mom family). And most of all, nursing is nice, but (IMHO) it is not the most important part of parenting. Far more important is the time you spend with your child. Nursing can guarantee that time, particularly with an infant, but it can also add pressure and tension, perhaps unnecessarily if there is already another source of milk, so it might also be good to strategize other ways for your partner to connect with your infant when the time comes, no matter what you decide in terms of feeding (e.g. taking substantial parental leave, babywearing, time alone with baby).

Good Luck! And by all means, freeze lots of sperm!
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your replies!
Lyn, your blog looks fantastic, full of information and useful links. Thank you for your detailed post too.

I don't know how much of an obstacle being MtF will pose for GF in terms of breastfeeding; we certainly know it's possible for transwomen to lactate. She already has a bit more breast tissue than the average male-bodied person (gynecomastia), but we don't know whether that will be an advantage or not make a difference at all.

When she first posed the idea of her breastfeeding, I wasn't overjoyed (it was a possessive MY BABIES MY BABIES kind of thing), but I'm getting more and more used to, and even keen on, the idea. At any rate, we've got years before it will become an issue, but it's good to test the waters and see what the possibilities are and what it all entails.
post #6 of 15
Originally Posted by Cuddlefluff View Post
Thanks so much for your replies!
Lyn, your blog looks fantastic, full of information and useful links. Thank you for your detailed post too.
Your welcome and thanks!

When she first posed the idea of her breastfeeding, I wasn't overjoyed (it was a possessive MY BABIES MY BABIES kind of thing), but I'm getting more and more used to, and even keen on, the idea.
Nursing or no, it's good (and sometimes hard) to get over the "MY BABIES" thing if you are parenting with a partner (of any gender). Now you're ahead of the game. Good luck to you and your partner as you figure out what's next.
post #7 of 15
Another interesting read is at

It's about the ability of men to lactate and how in some cultures men will nurse babies while mom is away. While it's not specific the the situation you and your girlfriend will be in ~ it does show that it's possible for just about anyone to lactate.
post #8 of 15
post #9 of 15
Originally Posted by Kmarie42 View Post
I'd be more worried about the dynamics of it. It would mean both of you would have to pump. If you split up the breastfeeding 50-50, you'd both be pumping half the time. If you skipped a feeding and didn't pump, you'd be engorged and in a lot of pain, or you'd start losing your supply, or both. You could make it work, but it would be a big commitment.
This is somewhat true, but hasn't been quite that dramatic, at least now that we've settled into our rhythm. After the initial heavy pumping my wife did to get going, she has dramatically tapered off on pumping and now pumps two times per week (on the days she works out of the home). Other than that, all of the milk she makes goes in directly, which is approximately 2-3 feedings per day. Since I work out of the home 3 days a week, I do pump those days, but I'd be pumping then anyway. I also pump in the mornings on the night my wife feeds the baby overnight, but I happily do that pumping in exchange for sleep. The only pumping that I do "extra" at this point is that I pump one time a day on weekends to cover her feedings Gail does on Sat and Sun without losing supply. These dynamics would be different with different work arrangements, but I'm not pumping much more than I would be as a solo breastfeeder who does some work out of the home, and at this point, my wife barely pumps at all.

Which is not to say this hasn't been a pain sometimes. In particular Gail is really sick of taking herbs 3-4 times a day and has stopped taking them, and I support her in that. This should be a bonus, not a burden for her. But so far, her supply is sticking around, and also, our son knows how to nurse well with her now, and will likely continue to comfort nurse even if her supply dwindles.
post #10 of 15
Lyn - thanks for sharing your story! I can't wait to check out your blog. How soon after your baby was born did Gail start putting the babe to her breast?
post #11 of 15
My wife and I are both breastfeeding our 4.5-month-old. I was still breastfeeding our third son when she gave birth to our fourth, so I had a decent milk supply without inducing lactation.

We planned to wait until Leo was 3-4 weeks old before I tried nursing him, but I think I actually ended up nursing him much sooner than that. Maybe sometime in the middle of the second week. I'm mainly nursing him for comfort, not milk, and especially in the early weeks, I would only nurse him just after nursing our (then) two-year-old (i.e. when my breasts were relatively empty).

These days I nurse him mostly to try and tide him over between his nursings with my wife, since she's often gone for 3-3.5 hours at a time (and he'd normally probably nurse her every 2 hours when she's home), and for comfort in the evenings. Sometimes he refuses to nurse from me, and sometimes he only wants to nurse from me, but in general our arrangement has been conflict-free and idyllic.

I highly recommend at least thinking about having the non-gestational parent feed the baby using a LACT-aid and expressed milk. It is so wonderful to have four breasts to offer our baby (especially in contrast to our first experience of parenting, with only one breast per baby!).

post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by iemaja View Post
Lyn - thanks for sharing your story! I can't wait to check out your blog. How soon after your baby was born did Gail start putting the babe to her breast?
Sorry for missing this iemaja. It's actually a sweet story. I had some complications after delivery, and after about 45 minutes with our son I was taken to the OR and was separated from him for about two hours (long story, everything ended up fine). He hadn't gotten it together to nurse during those 45 minutes. But Gail took him while I was gone, snuggled him skin to skin, and a little later he got interested in nursing, so his first taste of milk from her. That separation, which I know is the sort of thing that's really hard for many women, was actually OK for me, because I knew he was getting exactly what he needed with his other mom. I am so grateful for that.

After that first feeding though, we waited until about 3 1/2 or 4 weeks for her to do feedings, to make sure my supply was solid first.
post #13 of 15
We are another two mum family. We intended to to the induced lactation thing for my partner to also nurse our firstborn, but that was thwarted by his early birth at 28 weeks and we ended up just concentrating on getting him nursing from me.

My partner carried our second child and I was still nursing the eldest who was 3. I nursed #2 lots over his first few weeks, by 6 months he was totaly uninterested in my milk. My partner nightweaned him at 9mo due to being insane with tiredness and I did nights from then and offered milk, but he preferred cuddles to my "second rate" milk!

Although Leah nursed #2 for over 2 years, she does not love nursing and so had no desire to relactate for #3, born to me. Miss nearly 2 has always been quite keen to comfort nurse despite the no milk thing and they have this sweet dance when I get up in the mornings which still involves nursing!

Anna, partner to Leah, mum to ds 9, ds 6 and dd 22 months
post #14 of 15
I went to the doctor today for a conversation about me inducing lactation, as my partner is 16 weeks pregnant with our first. I am not too terribly optimistic that I will be able to produce much milk, but I am very curious try (both as a NGP and a CNM).

What impressed me the most was how little this doctor knew about inducing lactation. I had printed out a lot of information from the fabulous Lyn and Gail's blog, including the type of protocol that I wanted to use. The doctor had never seen such a protocol, and was very grateful that I had come so prepared.

I left the appointment with a 6 month birth control prescription (my very first time on birth control). I have to order my domperidone online and then I'll be all set. I am very excited to begin. I'll keep you all posted.

post #15 of 15
You could definitely both breastfeed! Your partner (the one who doesn't get pregnant) would just have to induce lactation. It's the same thing that adoptive moms who want to breastfeed do. http://www.kellymom.com/bf/adopt/rel...resources.html It takes effort, but can definitely be done. The milk shouldn't be any different as far as I know because the baby and mom regulate the milk. You would have to worry about one of you getting engorged if they don't feed often enough though.
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