Skip to main content

Can a dad breastfeed? (Yes, he can, and we’re serious.)

One question that may not have occurred to you when talking about pregnancy and baby care: can a dad breastfeed? And even if it’s possible, how can a dad breastfeed?

We’ll take a look at how science and innovation have brought about revolutionary changes to how parents care for their children. And with both parents now having the ability to take time off from work to care for a newborn, this presents new opportunities to explore the latest advancements that science has to offer to new moms and dads. From new gadgets to hormone treatments, parents are looking at different avenues for dealing with one situation that relates to taking care of a newborn — that dreaded 3 am feeding.

Can a dad breastfeed?

When you study the anatomical components that relate to this question, you might be surprised to find out that yes, it’s possible — in theory. Men’s breasts actually have milk ducts and a small amount of mammary tissue, similar to those of women. Plus, men’s bodies possess a small amount of prolactin and oxytocin which are the hormones that trigger milk production. Furthermore, some reports have come out over the years claiming that men have produced milk after stimulating breasts and nipples in a similar manner as a mother would do to bring on lactation. However, these reports are inconclusive regarding the amount and consistency of the milk.

How can a dad breastfeed?

So far, two different pathways have been invented for fathers to gain the ability to breastfeed. One involves a Japanese tech company called Dentsu. In 2019, Dentsu representatives introduced their device known as the “father’s nursing assistant.” This wearable device has a strap that goes over the shoulder and secures a front panel in place over the man’s chest. This panel, of course, is shaped like a woman’s bosom. The inside of the device carries a small tank that holds breastmilk (expressed from the mom) or formula. It also has a nipple that closely resembles and functions like that of a woman’s breast where the baby can obtain the milk. The outer covering of the device is soft and is supposed to remind the baby of the texture and softness of the mother’s skin. This gadget also keeps track of the baby’s feeding patterns and sends that information to the father’s smartphone.

Yet another invention came about from a student’s project. Marie-Clarie Springham created the “chestfeeding” kit. The kit comes with a supply of synthetic progesterone which the father takes as soon as the parents know they’re expecting. He takes this hormone once a day until the last six weeks of the pregnancy in which he switches to domperidone. This hormone stimulates the body’s production of prolactin which in turn, starts up milk production. Once the baby is born, the father is ready to start nursing. Other components of the kit include a compression vest and pump that the dad wears to further enable chestfeeding.

Parents holding and admiring their baby.

Other ways dads can help with breastfeeding

If a couple can’t obtain a Dentsu device, or they might have concerns about any possible long-term effects of hormone treatments, like those provided by Springham’s chestfeeding kit, new dads can still support their partner. For example, fathers can take on the household chores, especially the preparation of meals since the baby’s feeding often coincides with those specific times of the day. Also, having a pillow ready for supporting the mom’s arms helps greatly.

Other ways dads can provide support and bond with the baby include:

  • burping the baby
  • introducing the baby to bottle-feeding with breastmilk
  • changing the baby
  • providing skin-on-skin contact for the baby

Also, having patience and spending time just hanging out with the family offers emotional support and boosts morale for the new mom.

Parenthood is one of the most exciting and rewarding journeys through which a couple can travel. And with these new inventions, both parents can take turns waking up to feed the baby. Likewise, they can also take different routes to meeting their child’s nutritional needs. Every family is different and figuring out routines and procedures that ensure proper care for everyone involved is just one way to forge a stronger, deeper bond as a couple and as parents.

Editors' Recommendations

Leslie Anderson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Leslie Anderson is a freelance writer/writing coach from Roswell, N.M. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and helping students…
What are the signs of implantation?
Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy
Woman sitting on couch and looking at a pregnancy test

When you're trying to get pregnant you can become hyper-aware of your body, looking for any indication that implantation has happened. Implantation is when an embryo implants into the uterine lining to start growing into a fetus. Implantation, like pregnancy, is different for everyone, so while some could experience implantation symptoms like some bleeding or cramping, similar to a very light period, for others, nothing may happen. Following implantation, pregnancy symptoms will begin and increase as the days progress. Read on to find out exactly what to expect in signs of implantation.

What is implantation?
Implantation usually happens five to nine days after fertilization (conception), when the embryo has already started to grow. It needs to bury itself into the thick lining of the uterus to keep growing. Without implantation, a pregnancy cannot progress. Medically, the pregnancy only begins once implantation takes place.

Read more
What to expect at every ultrasound and how many you may have
What happens when you have an ultrasound at 8 weeks pregnant? Here's what to expect
An ultrasound on a screen

Pregnancy is such an exciting time for any expectant parent. One of the most exciting moments is going for an ultrasound when you finally get that first glimpse at your bundle of joy. As your baby grows, you'll an ultrasound will allow you to see your baby as it develops. You may begin to notice facial features or even see your little one already sucking on their thumb or blowing bubbles. Those tiny feet kicking you? They’ll start to appear, too.

It’s amazing how quickly (but slowly) these soon-to-be humans develop. Your 8-week ultrasound may show a small blob-like photo, whereas an ultrasound done just a few weeks later will reveal a forming head and even cheekbones. As you progress in your pregnancy, you’ll see more and more development.

Read more
8 best podcasts for new moms who have dozens of questions
Got parenting questions? These podcasts have answers
Pregnant woman relaxing on a couch with her laptop

Becoming a mom for the first time is so exciting, but it can also cause a bit of nervousness and anxiety. It's only natural to feel overwhelmed at the thought of welcoming a new baby into your family but fortunately, there are a lot of great resources to help answer all the questions a new mom may have. One of those resources is podcasts.

The entire process of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting can be enhanced by learning from professionals, social media, and fellow moms about having a successful parenting journey. To help you prepare for this awesome transition, we bring you the eight best podcasts for new moms. Give them a listen, you won't regret it!

Read more