Sunday, September 28, 2008

Should men be allowed to breastfeed?

OK. I admit it. I've been procrastinating. I just about got burnt out after studying 'connectivism' all weekend, and my attention started to wonder until I found a blog post by Suzanne Reisman entitled "When men breastfeed, what does it say about gender roles".

Men who breastfeed
In the post Suzanne talks about male lactation which mostly happens as a result of medication, although apparently there is a tribe of pygmies where men breastfeed. Suzanne also links to a video called 'Milk Men' that explores male lactation, which I must admit completely freaked me out - why, I just cannot articulate. And the video may be a joke - I'm not really sure.

What do you think?
Do you think that one day men will be able to breastfeed? Should they be 'allowed' to do so? If you're a bloke, would you want to breastfeed or are you completely happy to let the girls get on with it. Or, do you think breastfeeding is over-rated, who ever does it?

Image: 'Elephant with calf' Arno & Louise


Carolyn said...

A wee question. How can you allow or not allow? People will do what they do. Maybe some men do do this, do they?

Sarah Stewart said...

Wondered how long it would be before someone picked that up. Of course we can't allow or not - people will do what they will do.I was wondering what people thought about this from a more philosophical point of view. Clearly nature did not intend men to breastfeed as a matter of course, so should we be interfering with nature? Do women want men taking on our maternal role?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that "nature" "intends" anything

Perhaps as natural creatures whatever we do is natural?

Having said that as a bloke I'm happy with nappies and colic and sharing responsibility but I wouldn't fight for the breastfeeding or giving birth bit

I also suspect the hormone's needed might mess with some of my other bloke functions

Sarah Stewart said...

That's what I mean by 'nature intended' - if men were meant to breastfeed, would they not have the physiological ability to do so?

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Sarah!

All of my 6 children were breastfed. No, I didn't breastfeed any of them. But I did give bottle supplements to some, and one of those took my wife's expressed milk through a bottle that I administered! Good grief!

I don't really feel it would have made much difference if I had been feeding the babies through my breast. The fact is, it was an experience that I was glad of and would not have missed.

Who knows? Maybe male milk has a different composition. Has there been any anlysis of it? Maybe it's nutritional value is different. Would it fail if the baby also required a supplement? I'd like to think it would not fail simply because that would also imply that many women who breastfeed should also fail - which would be ridiculous.

I say, if a man can provide the required nutrition to a baby by breastfeeding, then why stop him? You'd be as well to have a thing about dark-skinned women breastfeeding their babies as men breastfeeding theirs.

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Middle-Earth

It's always really great to hear from guys who are so supportive of breastfeeding. I know I always appreciated the way my husband took it for granted that I would breastfeed and not pressurize me not to breastfeed, which is another issue altogether. This meant a lot because very few of our friends breastfed, so we were in the minority, especially after a couple of months.

Please don't get me wrong - I would never want to get in the way of a father bonding with his baby. But as a woman, I am very jealous of what breastfeeding gave me - a bond with my baby that no one could replace. I would not want to give that up. I'm not sure I have articulated that very well - what do you girls think?

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Hang about there Sarah, I wasn't suggesting that anyone, man or woman, should give up breastfeeding their baby.

Do you think this conversation is becoming a bit matriarchal? Being a father of 4 daughters I'm experienced enough to recognise that state if it occurs :-)

Do you think that the bonding bit might be partly in the mind? I mean, being a chemist, I can appreciate that a bond works two ways.

If some of it is in the mind then, maybe, there's more bonding going one way than the other, if you hitch to my link.

That's not inconceivable given the bonds that exist between adults, where some bonds appear to be stronger from one end than from the other.

I don't deny anyone the pleasure of their perception - in art, in music, in other comforts or even in bonds they see that exist between themselves and their babies. But when it comes to the measurement of those and their comparisons - according to whose meter?

Ka kite anō
from Middle-earth

Sarah Stewart said...

I am sorry, Middle Earth. I'm going to be completely non-PC and say that I think men breastfeeding just is wrong. :)

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Ahh! Kia ora Sarah!

Now that could have saved a lot of discussion.

You are entitled to your opinion, and since you have clearly stated what it is, I won't argue with you.

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Middle Earth, I am sorry, I was feeling argumentative yesterday. I apologize. I enjoyed our discussion. Thank you for participating :)

Shelley said...

I don't care at all about whether men breastfeed or not.

Or at least I think I don't.

But the title of this post had a "must click" factor for me.


Sarah Stewart said...

In the end, the most important thing is the baby is deeply loved, and in my opinion, is breastfed. Ultimately, like you say, does it really matter?

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā koe Sarah!

People who are opinionated are discerning. They know their minds.

I often come across as opinionated. I say, "shouldn't I have an opinion. If you don't want to hear it, the answer is simple. Don't ask."

I usually keep my opinion to myself. But when I'm asked . . . :-)

I love all my babies. The youngest is 14 and the oldest is 36.

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

Sarah Stewart said...

Actually, Middle-Earth, you have a point that I really struggle with on this blog. And that is how much of my own opinion I can give out or how much is appropriate, professional or safe to say.

It is so easy to have your words misconstrued, and I have set this blog up to be a so-called 'professional' blog so at times I really have to bite my tongue and not say what I really feel.

Issues about childbirth can be so contentious for all sorts of reasons that I try not to engage at a personal level but at the same time, those issues are draws in readers. A conundrum some times.

Medela Metro Bag said...

What type of question is this, I mean how can guys breastfeed? the only possible way is by wearing some sort of bra where they can adjust the bottles in such a way that the bottles look like boobs to the babies! LOL.