I first became interested in male lactation in 1978 after reading Dana Raphael’s book, The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding. Although Raphael only dealt with the subject briefly, she did say that men can and have produced milk after stimulating their nipples.
While my husband David had no interest in nursing our son, we both were intrigued with the idea. We had just had our first unassisted homebirth and were excited about applying our positive thinking techniques to other aspects of our lives. Although Raphael had written about milk production through nipple stimulation, perhaps, we thought, David could do it simply through suggestion. He began telling himself that he would lactate, and within a week, one of his breasts swelled up and milk began dripping out. When we excitedly showed my father (a physician) David’s breast he said, “Obviously there’s something physiologically wrong with David.” The fact that David had willed himself to do this, did not impress him. We knew, however, that this was yet another example of the power of the mind.
Still, we were not ready for David to actually breastfeed our baby. First of all, there was no need for it. I was doing just fine on my own. But more importantly, he simply had no desire to do it. After he discovered that his body had indeed been responsive to his thoughts, he suggested to himself that the lactation would stop, and within a week his breast returned to normal. The experiment had been a success.
We didn’t give it much thought after that until years later when I came across a short article called “Male Lactation” by Professor Patty Stuart Macadam of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto (Compleat Mother, Fall, 1996, Volume 43).