It is well established that breastfeeding is beneficial to both infants and mothers and that breastmilk (from a woman) is the gold standard form of nutrition for babies. For various reasons, women choose to feed their babies a myriad of ways, breastfeeding at the breast, breast milk from a bottle, a mix of breastmilk and formula, or exclusively formula. As a perinatal nurse, it makes no difference to me so long as a woman is educated on the risks and benefits and supported in her decision. I respect a mother’s choice to either breastfeed or formula feed her infant. For the longest time my professional motto on the topic was, “fed is best.” However, with the recent news of men attempting to breastfeed and companies like Marie-Claire Springham producing a “male lactation aid,” I realize my motto is severely lacking. 

Still in the “concept phase” Marie-Claire’s product, called “Will and Way” was designed so that “left out and forgotten” fathers could partake in breastfeeding responsibilities. All they need to do is sign up for an NHS prenatal course to receive their kit. Kit contents include: chest pump, compression vest, informative leaflet, and all of the necessary hormones (domperidone and progesterone). Marketed as an “empathy tool” to allow “mums to relinquish some of the pressures and duties of parenting,” we see how, instead of solving the problem of postpartum stress and mental health struggles occurring in women, leaders in healthcare have created another science experiment involving the most vulnerable among us. Rather than creating a robust postpartum healthcare system supporting mothers, we have fortified their struggles stating “you’re right, you can’t do it, so let’s create a product so men can.” Why can’t we celebrate the wonderfully unique differences and capabilities of mothers and fathers and teach them to excel using their unique strengths? I digress. 

Not only does this fail to solve the postpartum mental health crisis, we have no idea what the health outcomes are of feeding a baby milk synthesized from men, utilizing exogenous hormones. According to Dadsnet, “Within the kit is the hormone progestin, required for the man to take once-a-day from the moment he knows his partner is expecting.” Progestin is a synthetic version of the female sex hormone progesterone that helps stimulate the production of milk glands in pregnancy. Dadsnet continues,“During the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy the man would then be required to take another hormone; domperidone, often prescribed to mums who struggle to breastfeed. This hormone stimulates another hormone; prolactin, which tells the body to produce milk.” 

Domperidone is considered themost effective medicine used to improve breast milk supplybut in the United States, it is not approved for enhancing breast milk production in lactating women. In fact, in 2004 the FDA warned against domperidone: “all drug products containing domperidone (whether compounded or not) violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) because they are unapproved new drugs and misbranded.” According to the Mayo Clinic, “There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding.” I think the point is clear. Why do we think it would be safe to give these synthetic drugs to a man to induce milk production to feed precious infants?

We, nurses, scientists, lactation experts, and doctors don’t know if the milk men synthetically produce would be similar, nutritionally and in immunity-boosting components, to the breast milk that women produce for their young. Rather than wait and find out conclusively, we have once again put the cart in front of the horse. In 2018, a male in New York told doctors that he wanted to breastfeed his “pregnant partner’s baby.” Medical providers put him on “a regimen of drugs that included an anti-nausea medication licensed in Britain and Canada but banned in the United States.” Yes, that drug is domperidone. According to the journal Transgender Health, he was able to produce eight ounces of milk a day prior to the birth of the baby. On average, a newborn baby drinks 1-3 ounces per feed. Even if this was a sufficient volume, is it a good source of nourishment for the baby? Why aren’t more people asking about this? 

More recently, another  man on TikTok boasted of his success in inducing lactation and feeding a baby a bottle of his own “breast milk.” (It’s unclear where the baby came from.) On his TikTok videos he brags, “cow achievement.” That’s an interesting choice of words that can only come from someone who doesn’t understand (i.e. a man pretending to be a woman). I know many mothers who claim they feel like a dairy cow during those frustratingly painful yet essential pumping sessions. Not one, that I know of, would brag about herself in such a way. We are not cows. In fact, the most dedicated women that breast feed their children into toddlerhood and beyond, state that human babies need human milk, not cow’s milk, or the synthetically triggered milk of a man.  The Post Millennial covered this story and rightly stated, “The only reason for this course of action is vanity and narcissism, not the health of a child.” 

Finally, I am not fooled into thinking that Maire-Claire really designed this tool to “help couples support each other” amidst maternal postpartum struggles. Instead, it was created as another tool to erase women and spread the “transgender” narrative. On the website Marie-Claire boasts that “Will and Way” has developed into a fascinating discussion piece on gender, societal roles and how design can oppress with one hand and liberate with the other.” Certainly, with the design of “Will and Way” they have oppressed women and enlisted the most vulnerable in a science experiment masquerading as inclusivity and innovation. 

Author Profile

Kallie Fell, Executive Director
Kallie Fell, Executive Director
Kallie Fell, MS, BSN, RN, started her professional career as a scientist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center utilizing a Master of Science degree in Animal Sciences with an emphasis on Reproductive Physiology and Molecular Biology from Purdue University. While assisting in the investigation of endometriosis and pre-term birth, Kallie simultaneously pursued a degree in nursing with hopes of working with women as a perinatal nurse. After meeting Jennifer at a conference, Kallie became interested in the work of the Center for Bioethics and Culture and started volunteering with the organization. It is obvious that Kallie is passionate about women’s health. She continues to work, as she has for the past 6 years, as a perinatal nurse and has worked with the CBC since 2018, first as a volunteer writer, then as our staff Research Associate, and now as the Executive Director. In 2021, Kallie co-directed the CBC’s newest documentary, Trans Mission: What’s the Rush to Reassign Gender? Kallie also hosts the popular podcast Venus Rising and is the Program Director for the Paul Ramsey Institute.