Did you know that trans parents can breastfeed? Check out interview with nursing dad, Trevor MacDonald about his experience with his partner, Ian, about breast/chestfeeding their kiddos.
It’s day 6 of World Breastfeeding Week, and boy do we have an AMAZING interview for you today. Trans dad, Trevor MacDonald shares his experience breast/chestfeeding their kids. This interview is super information plus has links for more resources for trans parents interested in breast/chestfeeding.
LM: Can you tell us a little more about your family and what role you play in the feeding mix?
Trevor: We are gay dads, and I am a trans guy. I birthed and nurse my kids. My husband, Ian, bonds with them in other ways like babywearing.
LM: Breast/Chestfeeding dads are not covered much in internetland, and I have to admit myself I’m not 100% confident on my non cis-female breast/chest feeding. Can you give a quick run-down on how it’s possible and why it’s awesome?
Trevor: Trans guys can conceive a baby, even after being on testosterone for years (it’s important to cease testosterone therapy before attempting to conceive). There are many different ways to transition, so some trans guys might take testosterone but not have top surgery or bottom surgery. Some guys might have top surgery but not take testosterone or have bottom surgery. And, it’s possible to nurse a baby whether or not you’ve had a prior top surgery. Cis-women do this all the time, and it’s known as ‘breastfeeding after reduction surgery.’ Someone who doesn’t make a full milk supply, regardless of gender, can use a device called a supplementer to deliver adequate milk at the breast or chest AND maintain a nursing relationship. For some parents, the nutrition of the milk is very important, but it’s not the only reason to breastfeed or chestfeed. The nursing relationship is another factor to consider. More info here.
LM: I noticed in your bio on Milk Junkies that you say you passionate about breastfeeding. Do you always use “breastfeeding” vs. “chestfeeding” and what’s the protocol around that?
Trevor: I am fine with each of the terms breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and nursing, although I most often use nursing. Some trans guys strongly prefer to say chestfeeding because of its more masculine connotation. It’s best to ask an individual what word they use if you need to talk about how they are feeding their baby.
LM: Good to know! Very similar to most non-cis non-hetero family/parenting units. What’s your current breastfeeding schedule and how has the evolved over time?
Trevor: My oldest child isn’t nursing anymore, and my youngest is turning two years old in October, so she nurses like a toddler. If she is tired or feeling ill, she might ask to nurse very frequently. Other times she’ll go for half the day without nursing at all.
LM: It sounds like your partner, Ian, was super supportive throughout your breastfeeding journey. Did you ever have any disagreement over how to feed your baby?
Trevor: No, we’ve never disagreed about how to feed. We read information about breastfeeding together and both find immense value in human milk and the breastfeeding relationship.
LM: Did Ian ever consider breastfeeding?
Trevor: Very briefly, Ian wondered if he might try nursing using the supplementer the way that I do. I talk a little more about that in my book, but suffice it to say that he decided it wasn’t right for him.
LM: It sounds like overall breastfeeding has been an incredible experience for you – were there any challenges you had being a trans-man and how society highly feminizes breastfeeding?
Trevor: On the whole, I’ve had fantastic support – from friends, family, midwives, lactation consultants, and La Leche League Leaders. Sometimes I find nursing in public to be difficult, especially with an older baby because then I’m challenging two social norms at once – breastfeeding as a man AND breastfeeding an “older” child.
LM: It seems like there are so little resources available out there for non-cis woman breastfeeding – where did you find support? Any recommendation for folks who are looking for more information now?
Trevor: There aren’t many resources or support, but I’ve created some! I co-authored an academic study about trans men and their experiences with chestfeeding here. I also started an online support group. In particular, there is virtually no information about trans women and breastfeeding, so I published an interview about one woman’s experience here.
LM: What advice would you give to trans dads who are considering breast/chestfeeding their baby?
Trevor: I think finding community is really helpful. Talk to people who have been there and can share their experiences with you. Join us on Facebook at Birthing and Breast or Chestfeeding Trans People and Allies.
LM: Thank you SO much for the interview – where can our readers find you?
Trevor: I blog at www.milkjunkies.net.