She nursed her newborn exclusively for six weeks.

Blake Bakkila
February 15, 2018

Transgender men and women are breaking all kinds of barriers, and this one is pretty amazing: A 30-year-old transgender woman is believed to be the first to breastfeed her newborn baby.

In a case report published in the journal Transgender Health, Tamar Reisman, an endocrinologist, and nurse practitioner Zil Goldstein wrote that they believe this is the “first formal report in the medical literature of induced lactation in a transgender woman.”

The woman’s partner, who gave birth to the couple’s child, did not want to breastfeed. So three and a half months before their child was born, the woman started treatment to induce lactation. This included taking increased doses of several hormones, starting an anti-nausea medication thought to induce breast milk, and using a breast pump to stimulate her breasts.

After the baby was born, the woman was able to produce 227 grams of breast milk daily; she nursed for six weeks before adding formula to the baby’s diet as a supplement because she was not producing enough milk. (An infant typically consumes 500 grams of breast milk daily in the first days of life, according to a report about the case in New Scientist.)

“During [the six weeks] the child’s pediatrician reported that the child’s growth, feeding, and bowel habits were developmentally appropriate,” Dr. Reisman and Goldstein wrote.

The anti-nausea medications the woman was given, domperidone, is believed to increase milk production, but the FDA had previously warned of the unknown risks involved with the use of domperidone and breastfeeding infants.

“There are unknowns about the nutritional picture of the milk,” Madeline Deutsch, a doctor and associate professor at the University of California at San Francisco, told The Washington Post. “This is not transgender women taking control of their bodies … This is something that needs to be explored more.”

Joshua Safer, MD, medical director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Boston Medical Center, told New Scientist that this is a big step forward for transgender women who want to experience nursing. “This is very special,” he said. “It will be very important for the many transgender women who want to breastfeed but do not feel they have the opportunity to do so.”