Feeding your baby can be a powerful and nourishing experience for everyone involved. If you identify as a non-binary person, a trans man or trans woman you may want to breastfeed or chestfeed your infant. You don’t need to be the gestational parent to breastfeed or chestfeed. There are many ways to feed a newborn and you can prepare your body and get the support necessary to achieve success.
Some transgender and non-binary parents have a full milk supply available. While others may have reduced milk supply. If a trans man or non-binary individual has had chest surgery that has removed critical tissue that helps with milk production or milk ducts have been removed or injured in the surgical procedure, this would impact the amount of milk that can be produced. Testosterone interferes with prolactin, which is the hormone that helps to produce milk. Some people halt their hormones during the window they desire to breastfeed or chestfeed. If you would like to chestfeed a baby receiving supplementing formula or human milk, there is no need to adjust your hormonal therapy, you can still receive all the benefits including the closeness that is critical for infant neurological and emotional development.
Trans women can use the Newman-Goldfarb protocol similar to adoptive and other non-gestational mothers and stimulate their milk supply. A number of different protocols are described. Seek an informed lactation counselor who can guide you as it can be a process that takes patience. Human milk or formula supplements can be implemented. The best way to figure out what’s right for you is to work with your healthcare provider and lactation consultant that can support your breastfeeding or chestfeeding journey.
If you desire to feed your baby via supplement of expressed milk or formula you might want to consider using a nursing supplementer. If supply is low and you want to continue to feed at the breast or chest, this can ensure your baby gets extra milk while they are nursing. A nursing supplementer allows a baby to receive any supplement they need at the breast or chest without using bottles. The supplementer container hangs around your neck and tubing delivers small amounts into your baby’s mouth while he breastfeeds or chestfeeds. As he swallows, he continues sucking, stimulating your own milk production. Supplementer devices can help parents have an at-breast or at-chest relationship with their baby whether or not they are able to produce milk. This can work for fathers and partners as well as for folks who have traumatic experiences around their breasts or chests and would not feel comfortable with actual suckling.
Trans and non-binary parents may also use milk banks to acquire human milk for their babies including contacting: non-profit human milk banks, regulated collection centers, informal milk sharing networks and parent collectives. Human milk banks will provide screened donor milk usually pooled milk, so it comes from a mixture of donors. There are some places were the milk is not pooled, you will need to ask each provider. And find the best fit for your immediate needs and your family.
There are many ways to approach feeding and this time is really precious and with the right feeding plan in place, you can really enjoy it!