Lactating lesbians – inducing lactation as a nongestational mother

Guest post by Liesbeth Koning
This cute baby onesie is the perfect gift for co-breastfeeding lactating lesbian mamas! It’s available here.

Unlike my wife Melissa, I am not a lactation counselor… but this is a story of how the two of us became lactating lesbians, two moms both committed to nourishing our baby.

Before this experience, the only thing I knew about breastfeeding was that I wanted to do it when I had a baby. Even though I was the nongestating mother, I believed I could do this!

I never dreamed that I would be able to before birthing a child.

How I induced lactation as a nongestating mother

When my wife Melissa was pregnant with our baby, she proposed the idea of co-nursing. I was both surprised and excited.

About three months before baby Grace was born, I began taking birth control for the first time in my life. It seemed quite strange to be taking hormones not to prevent having a baby, but in order to provide for one. At the same time, I took a medication called domperidone.

About a month before Grace was born, I went off the birth control. I started taking the herbs fenugreek and blessed thistle, and started using a breast pump around the clock to see if I succeed at my goal of induced lactation.

At first, I would get a couple of drops from each pumping session. If it wasn’t for M, I would have been disappointed by this, but she was so enthusiastic. She told me it was a great start. Over time, I made more and more milk, but still tiny amounts.

Then came the birth of our baby girl. When Melissa finally got out of the birth tub, I was able to hold Grace. It was so amazing to have this tiny miracle in my arms (well, I suppose I had two bundles since Grace was still attached to her placenta). This was the first moment I could breastfeed Grace. She latched on and began sucking away.

Since I had already been pumping and had milk, I actually began to worry that I would have too much milk. I know the newborn sucking is what brings on a mama’s milk, so I didn’t let her suck for too long. I didn’t want to interfere with Melissa’s milk supply. In that little bit of time of nursing Grace, I knew that it was all worth it.

…And now we have two lactating lesbian mamas in our little family!

Over the next couple of weeks, I exclusively pumped so that Melissa could exclusively breastfeed. We wanted to make sure that breastfeeding was established well for she and Grace. After a couple of weeks, I started taking one nursing session every day and we just increased from there. We made sure that Melissa pumped whenever I nursed.

One great aspect of co-nursing was my ability to nurse Grace to sleep. There were times that Grace wanted to comfort nurse but she didn’t need a lot of milk. Melissa had a bit of an oversupply, and it was sometimes too much for her. I was able to nurse her to sleep. This was so beneficial for my bonding process with Grace. It was wonderful to have something special that only I could offer our daughter.

As Grace grew, so did our milk supplies. This led to another amazing aspect of having two nursing moms — we were able to donate all of the extra milk that we were making. So far, we have donated milk for six infants, and Melissa has also donated to a milk bank, so who knows how many more babies. 3575 ounces and counting!

A whole set of cute shirts for the two lactating lesbian mamas, and their wee one! Available here.

With all of these boobs around, G isn’t very interested in bottles. When Melissa is at work, I can feed Grace, so Melissa doesn’t need to worry about how long she is gone. I think that this has helped me to feel like a competent parent. I know that even if I couldn’t breastfeed, I would still feel able to take care of our daughter, but for me, this really increased my confidence as a parent.

Sometimes I think that I may have had feelings of jealousy watching Melissa feed Grace if I weren’t able to. I would also be much more frustrated when Grace needed soothing, because sometimes all she wants is to nurse.

Moral of the story — I totally recommend inducing lactation if you are a non-gestational parent expecting a baby. Offbeat dads… I have heard that it is possible for cisgender men to induce lactation as well!

Looking for more posts about lesbian and/or LGBT families?

Comments on Lactating lesbians – inducing lactation as a nongestational mother

  1. Thank you for sharing! I have heard stories from some of my adoptive mom friends who have tried to lactate and it didn’t work out for them, but I’m glad to hear it working for you! That’s amazing!

    • I wonder if breathing in all those pregnancy hormones from her spouse helped? It’s pretty commonly accepted that women’s hormones will affect each other (hence why they will start to cycle together if they spend too much time around each other). It may be that this is similar.

  2. I gave up on breastfeeding with my first child. One of the reasons was because of how frustrating it was that I was not producing enough milk. Although it will be a while, I have considered the possibility of trying to breastfeed again if I have any more children. I thought about pumping before the baby was born to help the milk come in but I’m worried that the baby then wouldn’t get the colostrum. Any tips?

    • Nova, I wouldn’t pump before giving birth. The most important things you can do are to educate yourself about lactation as much as possible, find a network of support (friends or family who have breastfed successfully, a local IBCLC, La Leche League, etc.), and nurse as much as humanly possible during the first few weeks- that’s when you’re body is set up to establish your milk supply. Good luck! 🙂

    • nova, the best thing you can do for a successful nursing experience is to educate yourself and seek out a support system. la leche league is a great place to start. i encourage you to attend meetings while you are pg. this will do 2 things for you: 1) education. you will learn a lot about normal nursing behavior, what to expect, etc. and 2) you will have made contact with the leader(s) and will be more inclined to call for help should the need arise.

      best of luck to you!

    • I definitely recommend educating yourself and nursing as much as baby wants in the first few weeks and even pumping in between nursing if needed. Also make sure you are drinking LOTS of water and eating! Your body needs more calories to produce milk than it does while you are pregnant and growing that baby! I’ve heard that herbs can help too, like fenugreek.

    • Pumping while still pregnant to increase supply, wont work and is a form of birth induction. When you give birth, milk doesnt set in for a couple days…completely normal and fine. Baby doesn not need to have milk in that time period, colostrum is perfect. If you nurse on demand, not supplementing with any formula at all…and continue to exclusively nurse until your milk supply is established (about 4 months before it’s established) should do fine. Drink plenty of water, and all should be fine.

  3. This is seriously the most fucking awesome i thing i’ve heard in awhile (and i’m a student who wiles paper writing hours away solely looking at blogs for awesome stuff).

    Beautiful stories, beautiful, loving mamas, AMAZING!

  4. It must be the mama hormones (still? after my baby is a year old?) but this story brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing gift you’ve given your daughter and the mamas and papas and babies who have benefited from your milk supply. What a happy story.

  5. Thank you for sharing your experience. I think this is incredible! There were days that I wished I’d had another mom there to help nurse my babies. (I had two sets of twins and was nursing 4 of them at once.) Your hard work definitely paid off. What an inspiration to any mother who is adopting a baby, co-nursing, or relactating! Kudos!

    • woah, tandem tandem nursing two sets of twins? I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing for 7.5 years between three singleton pregnancies, tandemed my 1st and 2nd a bit (my 2nd didn’t want to come back to nursing after weaning at 30mo when I was pregnant with the 3rd – they’re all 3 years apart, baby is 9mo)… I’m having an inferiority complex moment just trying to wrap my mind around two sets of twins ALL breastfeeding from one mom… yeah, you would totally benefit from tribal nursing. I’ve already said if I wind up with twins next time (think I’ve got hubby talked into one more pregnancy, my mom miscarried twins so I’m at higher “risk”) I would be glad of sharing nursing with other moms. I’ve nursed a friend’s baby (with the mom’s permission) when mom got stuck at the DMV while I was watching her baby – wouldn’t be against having the favor returned should the need arise (I have oversupply so haven’t needed help nursing my own, someone else taking over a feeding means I have to pump to keep from leaking!)

  6. I am so glad to come across this story! This is simply amazing!! So glad to hear mommies promotion breastfeeding no matter what obstacles come in the way. Both you mommies are AMAZING and great role models for the rest of mommies out there. Keep it up! 😀

  7. AWESOME!!!!!
    Oh I wish my husband could help out with the breastfeeding! Especially at night! I ‘m so tired…..

    In the book Woman On The Edge Of Time
    there’s this futuristic community where babies are given to three “mothers” (can be any sex) so all of the three mothers breast

    (and that is my DaughTER hitting the shift and return key for me..>)

  8. Awesome, thank you so much for sharing this with us. I think it is beyond wonderful that you both get to share this bond with your daughter. And wow all those ounces donated!! My wife and I have talked about her relactating when I have our babies. She nursed all three of her sons for an extended period and was a La Leche Leader and knows a ton about breastfeeding. Not sure we will be able to as she will be 51 before it happens. Any

  9. That’s so cool! I think I’d freak out if my husband wanted to breast feed (just a weird picture in my head) but it’s wonderful to hear that you got to accomplish that!

    • Donated milk is for women can’t breast feed for whatever reason (duct problems, mastectomies, or it just doesn’t take) or for women who have adopted an infant, but still want the advantages of feeding their child real breast milk rather than formula. There are breast milk banks, or you can sell/donate your breast milk directly. However, the latter is illegal in some states due to concerns regarding crossing immune systems or the lack of a screening process for donors.

  10. This is amazing! I’ve actually been really wondering about this in the past couple weeks, and I’m really excited to see it can and has been done. 😀

    It sounds like it’s been a really amazing journey. Congrats on both successful lactation and on your baby! <3

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