Researchers have successfully given a transgender woman the ability to breastfeed her baby.
Doctors from the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York reportedly placed a transgender woman in an experimental treatment regimen over three months leading to her being able to produce 227 grams of milk a day.
According to reports, this is the first ever academically reported case of induced lactation in a transgender woman.
The 30-year-old patient, who was born a male, approached doctors from Mount Sinai and informed them she wanted to nurse her then pregnant partner’s baby.
Dr. Tamar Reisman and nurse practitioner Zil Goldstein gave the transwoman a regimen of drugs including an anti-nausea medication that is currently banned in the United States but licensed in Canada.
“After implementing a regimen of domperidone, estradiol, progesterone, and breast pumping, she was able to achieve sufficient breast milk volume to be the sole source of nourishment for her child for six weeks,” the researchers wrote in their paper published in the journal Transgender Health.
It was reported that a month into treatment, the transgender woman was able to produce droplets of milk. After three months, two weeks before the baby’s due date, she was producing eight ounces of milk each day.
Lactating Transgender Woman
The doctors involved said that the case shows that induced lactation is clinically possible for transgender women.
“Transgender medicine is becoming part of mainstream medicine. We’re getting more evidence-based data, we’re getting more standardized care, we’re getting more reproductive options,” Reisman was quoted as saying.
The transgender woman, who had taken hormone therapy for six years, had not undergone gender reassignment or breast augmentation before approaching the doctors.
In her treatment, she gradually took the female hormones progesterone and estradiol, used a breast milk pump to stimulate her chest, and took domperidone, a nausea medication known to increase milk production.
Domperidone has not been legally approved in the United States due to reports that intravenous shots have resulted in cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, and, in some cases, sudden death. However, it has been licensed in the U.K. and Canada to treat nausea.
According to Reisman, it is possible to induce lactation even without domperidone through an optimized hormone regimen. It appears that chest stimulation could also naturally increase the milk-producing hormone known as prolactin.
“There have been self-reported cases online of transgender women trying DIY regiments to induce breastfeeding, but this is the first case of induced functional lactation in the academic literature,” Reisman said.
The researchers confirmed in their paper that the transgender woman was able to breastfeed the baby for the first six weeks after it was born. The baby’s pediatrician also said that “the child’s growth, feeding, and bowel habits were developmentally appropriate.”
However, the transwoman and her partner, later on, decided to use breastfeeding formulas as the milk she was producing was not enough to sustain the needs of the baby.
The experimental study was lauded by other medical researchers, one of which was Joshua Safer of Boston Medical Center. He said:
“This is a very big deal. Many transgender women are looking to have as many of the experiences of non-transgender women as they can, so I can see this will be extremely popular.”