The Male Lactation Discrepancy

Remember how bad Robert de Niro is in these movies? It's as if he's method acting as a person with permanent constipation.

Two friends of mine recently had a baby. Cute little thing. Tiny hands, tiny feet, cries a lot.

When I met the baby for the first time, the husband commented that for the month since the baby was born, he’s been pretty much useless. And not for lack of trying. It’s just that the baby’s core needs are filled by his wife at this time.

Specifically, his nipples do not produce milk, and therefore he cannot feed the baby.

So I asked him: “If you had the choice to lactate to nurse your child, would you?”

His answer: “Of course!”

This is not Salma Hayek's baby. She. Is. Awesome.

Now, it’s easy for a guy to say this (and his wife was right there). We can say that we’d willingly lactate because we know we’ll never have to. Plus, I’ve heard that lactating isn’t necessarily a walk on the beach. I’m no breast expert, but I’m pretty sure women have to deal with leaky nipples, swollen breasts, and the curious stares of men who are hoping for the nursing bib to slip. I’m not going to Google it, but I’d be willing to bet there’s a porn site devoted to that.

That said, I’m curious how many men would lactate so they could serve a purpose to their baby. I know I would. See, men like to feel useful. We like to feel like we’re contributing. I bet many of us would gladly lactate for our children.

So let’s find out. I’ve created a poll below that any gender can answer. And yes, this is assuming that the couple is heterosexual, so just bare with me there. Also, if you don’t have a child, answer for your future self that does have a child. Planned or unplanned. This is also assuming that you breastfeed. (Lots of stipulations, I know, but otherwise the poll would have 20 different options.)

15 Responses to “The Male Lactation Discrepancy”

  1. Brad says:

    Jamey…I don’t know. This one is off the rails. Waaayyy off the rails. I mean, wow. I will be following the comments closely on this one.

  2. Emma says:

    If this is implying that magically, suddenly, men are naturally capable of producing milk? If so, I would (theoretically) happily share the task.

    However, if you’re proposing some sort of hormone therapy or treatment to allow the capability, then probably not (for the health of all parties involved).

    Things I did not expect to associate with this topic from now on: Robert DeNiro.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Emma–The former (suddenly men are naturally capable of producing milk).

      I apologize if I’ve forever tainted your image of DeNiro.

    • Katy says:

      I am in complete agreement with Emma on this one, but did want to point out that this might be the most disturbing entry I’ve read here. Ever.

      • Jamey Stegmaier says:

        How so? 🙂

        • Katy says:

          Male lactation, really? How is that not a little disturbing.

          Also, the image of DeNiro in the ‘manary gland’ was something I had hoped to never see again after watching Meet the Fockers…seeing it again made me wish I could bean my eyeballs to un-see that. 🙂

          • Katy says:

            Stupid auto-correct- I meant bleach not bean.

          • Paul says:

            “Male lactation, really? How is that not a little disturbing.”

            How is this comment not disturbing…

            Subtlety beneath your post is the implication that men are evil, pedophilic monsters unworthy of the trust necessary for such a sacred task as breastfeeding.

            We’ve all got the necessary plumbing and while hormones supplementation is necessary to achieve full lactation for a male, none of those come from the medical industrial complex; you can do it with herbs alone and a bit of stimulation.

            And believe me when I saw I know the truth of this first hand.

  3. @JMJKDulce says:

    I would really be interested in the comments from the women who would rather keep the responsibility to themselves. I voted to share.

  4. Ansley says:

    I asked Scott what he would choose and he looked at me like I was crazy.

    “Is that even a question? I’d rather you do it!”

    I would tend to agree with him. Probably, when we have kids, I’ll take maternity leave or, if finances allow, be a stay-at-home-mom. When he comes home from work after a 10 hour shift, he’s going to be exhausted. Breast-feeding is a very energy sapping, time consuming process and, while it’s hard at the beginning, it becomes easier.

    I want to breastfeed. I’m hoping my body allows it. If I can’t, I won’t feel like the worst mother ever. If I can, I won’t feel superior to those who can’t/don’t.

  5. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    Perhaps I am vastly underestimating what it takes to breastfeed in terms of time and energy. For some reason after watching that video, it seems a lot less appealing. I may need to reconsider.

  6. Anne Riley says:

    Well, I’m okay telling the world of Jamey’s blog that nursing did not work for me. Jamey, you’re totally right that it is often not a walk in the park. We had a million different reasons it didn’t work, but I have no doubt that if Rob had been able to give it a shot, he would have. He would do anything for his little girl.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      “Walk in the park!” I knew that “walk on the beach” didn’t sound quite right. Sometimes I mix up these expressions.

      That is very sweet to hear that Rob would do anything for his little girl.

  7. Jasmin says:

    Well, if men do lactate, how long are you guys willing to nurse your kid? Apparently, you can nurse them well into toddlerhood like this lady did.

  8. Orianna says:

    Yes, it’s more psychological than implied here Sr. Jamey. Kudoes to Jasmin. Not to mention, women now have to screen themselves as they may pass their food intolerances which has me concerned. I think with all the responsibility and undertaking it’s best we do it. Not to mention, not alot of guys pass the hospital test as it is. lol

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