For millennia, moms have shouldered breastfeeding duties all on their own. After all, they have the, ahem, necessary equipment. But what if I told you it might not be long before a men’s breastfeeding kit will allow the father to be the milk producer for your child?
Father’s Nursing Assistant
At the last South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in March, a Japanese company called Dentsu unveiled a breastfeeding system for men called the Father’s Nursing Assistant. This revolutionary device resembles a woman’s breasts, and it allows Daddy to feed his baby similarly to the way its mother does.
The Father’s Nursing Assistant has two fake breasts that the dad wears around his chest. Only one of the breasts contains the nipple system, so the baby can only nurse on one side. The milk or formula is contained in the second breast. Dentsu says their device does more than feed the child. It also tracks the baby’s nursing sessions and sends the data straight to Daddy’s smartphone.
Unfortunately, the Father’s Nursing Assistant isn’t for sale yet. So, if you’re going to have a baby in the near future, you’ll have to breastfeed the old-fashioned way.
Men Making Actual Breastmilk
Another innovative device in the breastfeeding world is a “chestfeeding” kit that could actually induce lactation in fathers. No joke. The award-winning kit, invented by Marie-Claire Springham, a design student in the UK, comes with a pump and compression vest. It also contains hormones.
When a man finds out he’s going to be a father, he immediately starts taking progestin. Then, six weeks before the baby’s due date, he starts taking domperidone. The domperidone, which is primarily an anti-nausea and anti-vomiting drug, stimulates milk production. It should be noted that domperidone is not FDA approved in the United States due to its link to fatal heart conditions.
“I was looking at post-natal depression and I learnt so much,” said Springham on Good Morning Britain, “particularly that it occurs in men and the main cause of that is the feeling of being left out.”
“I read a lot of heartfelt accounts, the dad comes home all ready to be Super Dad and the baby’s not interested because the baby’s attracted to the smell of breast milk and that’s what mum smells like,” Springham said.
Although the concept of dads taking hormones to stimulate milk production is new, fathers have been making their own breastfeeding kits for quite a while. It’s simple, really. They just attach a suction cup and tube to their nipple. The tube is then attached to a syringe containing milk or formula. The dad isn’t lactating, but he’s still bonding with his child through skin-to-skin contact. (Check out the image of Instagram user Maxamillian Neubauer at the top of this post as an example.)
Springham hopes her chestfeeding kit will be available for purchase in about five years.
“In the meantime,” says Motherly, “fathers can help out their breastfeeding partners by…sitting with them, getting them a glass of water, or doing the laundry that she can’t do because she’s nursing.” All of those things are forms of support.