LGBTQ+ families

Can I make milk if I am LGBTQ+?

Families with LGBTQ+ members may wish to explore various options when caring for their baby including skin-to-skin care, breastfeeding, chest feeding, or producing milk.

A) Challenges for LGBTQ+ families

Families may have members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, or have diverse sexual orientation and gender identity (LGBTQ+). Those members who wish to breastfeed, chest feed, or provide milk may face challenges. These may be biological or related to hormonal or surgical treatment. Challenges may be unique to each family and there is little research to guide individuals and their health-care providers (Ferri 2020).

Individuals may have had treatment that can impair lactation including:

  • Suppression of puberty
  • Treatment designed to masculinize the body:

Conversely, treatment to feminize the body may cause the development of breast tissue, increasing the chances of producing milk.

The baby may have difficulty latching onto a breast because of prior surgery or lack of development of the nipple and nipple root. The baby may also be reluctant to remain latched if only small amounts of breast milk are produced.

Individuals may experience increased feelings of gender dysphoria or unease. They may encounter inexperienced or unsupportive health-care providers (MacDonald 2016).

References

Ferri RL, Rosen-Carole CB, Jackson J,et al. ABM Clinical Protocol #33: Lactation Care for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Plus Patients. Breastfeed Med. 2020 Apr 24

MacDonald T, Noel-Weiss J, West D, et al. Transmasculine individuals' experiences with lactation, chestfeeding, and gender identity: a qualitative study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2016 May 16;16:106