Co-Breastfeeding: How Same Sex Couples Can Both Nurse a Newborn

Breastfeeding is the most dependable way for a mother and child to bond and also for the baby to get the necessary nutrients for growth. However, not every willing parent has an easy time breastfeeding. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be an issue in same-sex couples as the partner can go for induced lactation. This allows for co-breastfeeding so that both parents can experience the joy of breastfeeding. 

So, how do you induce lactation? What happens, and where do you start? Keep reading to find out.

Induced Lactation

To build up a breastmilk supply when you haven’t given birth, you need to trick your body into producing it.

The process involves treatments such as hormone therapy, which is the Holy Grail for adoptive and same-sex parents who both want to breastfeed. 

Nevertheless, induced lactation, just like any other hormonal procedure, bears some benefits and challenges. For non-gestational parents, there are things you need to consider before induced lactation therapy. 

Speak With a Lactation Consultant

As with any other kind of therapy, the first step is to consult your doctor to help you plan your induction. Based on the kind of goals you and your partner have, your doctor will provide you with the necessary guidance. Your doctor will also instruct you on how to take hormones, similar to pregnancy hormones, that will trick your body into producing milk once they are withdrawn from use.

Stimulus and Expression 

The process should begin about 2 months prior to the baby’s due date. Drops of milk will start to appear after a month or so after starting the routine.

To achieve this, stimulate your breasts regularly by massaging by hand, then later using an electric hospital-grade breast pump a few minutes after waking and before sleeping for about 10 minutes.

This allows your body to produce milk as it reacts to demand.

Other Options

Specialized feeding devices such as Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) are used to supplement a child directly at the breast if you’re unable to produce milk in time for your baby’s birth.

The process involves using a silicon tube taped at the nipple of the mother to stimulate the supply of breast milk and give the baby the sensation of feeding on a breast.

These devices help parents who have little time to prepare for the arrival of their child.

Induced Lactation Benefits and Challenges

There are many benefits achieved from the process of induced lactation and co-breastfeeding, as well as unique challenges.

Benefits

  1. When sharing breastfeeding duties, you get to spend more time with your baby. When you get to nurse and directly participate in feeding your child, it promotes active bonding that leads to a range of benefits.
  2. For same-sex couples, shared responsibilities when raising a child are essential for parents and baby. Both parents should be closely involved and committed to the child’s care and wellbeing. When both parents are producing milk, it is in surplus and can be stored in the fridge or freezer for future needs or even donated to parents and babies who need breast milk.

Challenges

  1. The process is time-consuming and requires dedication, so be prepared and don’t be hard on yourself if things don’t go as planned. 
  2. Research shows that there is no standardized guide on the kind of methods to use for successful lactation induction.

Co-Breastfeeding and Same-Sex Couples

In the LGBTQ+ community, same-sex couples choose parenting that is made possible through both medical and scientific methods. Every couple has the right and choice to give optimum health and support to their families.

Co-Breastfeeding in Lesbian Families

When a female couple has a child through adoption or natural birth, science has given them a chance to co-breastfeed. In such a case with two mums, this is advantageous because they can both take up the role by co-breastfeeding or co-nursing. There’s even a chance of surplus milk, making it easier for both parents.

Breastfeeding in Gay Couples

When two men decide to have a child, their choice is either through surrogacy or adoption where they get to bottle feed the baby. While co-breastfeeding isn’t quite possible, here are some of the options the couple could use if they want to provide breastmilk.

  • Surrogate milk: When surrogacy is the couple’s choice, pumping and providing milk may also be included in the contract. The process helps the baby to receive necessary hormones and antibodies, helping them meet their nutritional and also immunological requirements.
  • Donated milk: Milk banks receive breastmilk acquired from donors screened for risks and any disease. The milk obtained is always tested and later pasteurized, ready for distribution. Due to the whole process involved, it is not cheap to acquire milk from milk banks, but it may be worth it to provide for your baby.
  • Informal donor milk: Informal milk sharing networks, such as Human Milk 4 Human Babies, make it possible for parents to acquire breastmilk for their baby.

A Co-Breastfeeding Journey

Breastfeeding is not for gestational parents alone. Non-gestational parents with the right preparations and support from professionals can have a successful co-breastfeeding journey using induced lactation.

The breastfeeding process provides amazing benefits, such as building a strong bond between the parents and baby while giving the child the necessary nutrients for growth.

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