Telling my story and sharing my family’s journey to co-breastfeeding was important to me because when I started down this path, I did not have many places to turn for advice and support. And the more I talked to others, the more I realized that my wife and my experience was not unusual but could give hope to other same-sex couples that may be starting their own co-breastfeeding journey.
What is Co-Breastfeeding?
Co-breastfeeding is precisely as it sounds. Both my wife and I wanted to share in the experience of breastfeeding our baby. While I had carried and breastfed our two previous children, this baby would be carried by my wife, Tiffany, and we couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of us both experiencing the bonding that comes with breastfeeding, as well as the responsibility. So we started to ask some questions–What had others done? What was even possible? What was successful, and what were the challenges? When we both became aware of induced lactation, it was a no-brainer for us. We knew right away that it was the right direction to go.
The Benefits of Co-Breastfeeding
While my experience breastfeeding showed me how rewarding it could be, I was also a bit shocked by the unique challenges involved. Breastfeeding takes time and energy. You’re waking up multiple times a night and/ or taking numerous pumping breaks during the day. By sharing this responsibility, my wife and I could more easily return to work and maintain our breastfeeding goals, especially since we didn’t have to pump as often. Because we are both blessed with a plentiful supply of breastmilk, we were actually able to store over 1,000 oz. of milk fairly quickly. Co-breastfeeding allowed us to relieve the pressure of providing enough milk for our baby with peace of mind.
But most importantly, co-breastfeeding gave both my wife and me the gift of bonding with our new infant son. Not just any bonding, but the strengthened intimacy and trust that is unique to breastfeeding. Tiffany bravely carried and gave birth to our son, and I needed to induce lactation to make co-breastfeeding possible.
The Path to Co-Breastfeeding
After making the decision, we needed to know where to go for guidance. Unfortunately, I received the most pushback from doctors, many of whom didn’t even know that inducing lactation was possible. I had to see four different doctors before I could find one willing to work with me. Being under the doctor’s care was very important because I had never done this before, and I knew I would be taking medications. After exploring several options, we chose the Newman Goldfarb Protocol as our method of induced lactation.
First, it’s important to note that the Newman Goldfarb Protocol isn’t the only way to induce lactation. But after doing extensive research, I found that it seemed to be the most popular and most effective technique. It starts by “tricking your body into thinking it’s pregnant” by taking a combination of birth control (active only pills) and increasing your prolactin levels by taking a medication called Domperidone. The hormones each have a role in preparing your breasts to make milk.
The protocol suggests having at least 22 to 24 weeks in preparation time. It’s imperative that if you decide to go with the protocol that you start as early as possible for best results. I recommend visiting Dr. Jack Newman’s website and reading his resources for inducing lactation for the most up-to-date information.
Welcoming Baby Orion and Co-Breastfeeding Logistics
After so much preparation and anticipation, we were thrilled to welcome baby Orion to the world on September 2, 2018. The first month we were home and just perfected breastfeeding. But now that Orion is a little older, we can get out of the house and do things together as a family.
Part of our original goal was to take turns breastfeeding for the first two months, and I’m happy to say it’s going according to plan! We have not encountered any surprises. Orion came out of the womb nursing like a champ on both of us; he has the perfect latch!
Nine weeks before Orion was born, I was pumping every three hours from 5 AM to 11 PM to induce lactation and build up my supply. I was pumping in every location imaginable! At my desk, in the car, the movie theater, Six Flags, and much more! Now I’m pumping four times a day at 6:30 AM, 10 AM, 1 PM, and 3 PM, which is during my commute and two times at work. My wife and I alternate with nursing during the early mornings, evenings, and weekends.
Bringing up the topic of breastfeeding at work was a bit more difficult for me as the non-gestational mom. My male boss may have been a bit shocked about my need to breastfeed, but it worked out in my favor. He didn’t ask me any questions or fight the issue. I’m very relieved to have the time and space needed to breast pump after starting this conversation, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
Tiffany’s return to work was a bit easier as the gestational mom. However, she was prepared to fight for her right to breastfeed at work and has not experienced any issues.
So far, we’ve been able to cover for each other if something pops up. It’s okay if one of us gets too busy or needs to leave because we’re both ready to step in to nurse or breastfeed when necessary. Being able to co-breastfeed has relieved so much stress from providing Orion with enough milk. We are incredibly thankful that all of the hard work that went into making this decision and inducing lactation is paying off to both have the ultimate bonding experience with our baby.
You can read more about Glenis and her family’s full story here.