In a breakthrough study, the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery demonstrated that it’s possible for a transgender woman to induce lactation. A 30 year old transgender woman was able to exclusively breastfeed her adopted infant.
How did a transgender woman induce lactation?
A 30-year-old transgender woman, who had been receiving feminizing hormone therapy for 6 years, was able to induce lactation by using a breast pump along with a combination of domperidone, estradiol, and progesterone. The woman began using a breast pump and taking these supplements with the guidance of her care providers while her partner was 5 1/2 pregnant. By the time their baby was born, she was able to express enough milk to exclusively breastfeed for 6 weeks.
This is similar to the process that some non-gestational cisgendered mothers use to breastfeed their adopted children. However, the main difference between inducing lactation in cisgender women and in transgender women is the need for transgendered women to take an androgen blockade–a therapy that suppresses male hormones. The transgender woman in this study continued to take spironolactone, and androgen blockade, while breastfeeding (the researchers noted an insignificant trace of the drug was found in her breastmilk).
According to the researchers, “at the time of this article submission, the baby is approaching 6 months old. The patient continues to breastfeed.” This is the first clinically documented case of a transgender woman breastfeeding, although the authors mention there are heaps of anecdotal accounts on the internet. Read the full case report here.
Using a breast pump to induce lactation
If you’re interested in inducing lactation you should talk to your care provider about your specific situation. Breast pumps are generally safe for non-lactating people to use, however you should never use settings outside of your comfort level. The most common cause of discomfort is improper shield sizing. You can get started by looking at our breastshield sizing guide, or contacting our expert customer support team.