Monday, March 31st, 2008
My Newborn Son is Lactating
[Posted the day before April 1, and I'm not fooling...]
Hey, what’s that dot of liquid on our baby boy‘s nipple? Oh. My. God. He’s lactating.
It’s true… milk from a baby boy boobie.
Last year we bandied about the possibility of adult male lactation and the idea of fathers breastfeeding their kids. In short, it’s technically possible, but so very unlikely.
One study looked at 640 babies born at term and found 38 of them producing milk.
Our boy’s condition would have been easy to miss, a small milk dot quickly soaked into a shirt and evaporated. As you can see from the photo below, milk can be expressed by pressing two fingers on the nipple.
And no, we don’t make a habit of expressing milk from our son. But I can’t exactly tell you my son is lactating and expect you to accept it without photos, can I? My wife really did just notice a dot of liquid yesterday and recognized it for what it was.
Incidentally, my son’s skin looks red because (my wife thinks) he has a touch of polycythemia, which means an over-abundance of red blood cells. While this condition can sometimes be serious, the only side effect we’ve seen is a slight jaundice. His skin color should normalize in a few weeks.
But if you ask me, it’s the universe telling us that we should have named him Flynn… my favorite baby name, the name my wife insisted we could only use if the boy was born with red hair because Flynn is Irish for “red.”
Anyhow, this whole baby milk thing starts when one of the mother’s lactation-inducing hormones, prolactin, transfers through the placenta into the baby, stirring milk production. Lactation is typically only seen in babies born at or near term, as ours was.
The milk is called witch’s milk. Wikipedia claims the name is derived from a mythical belief that witches stole milk from unattended sleeping infants and drank it. Mmm, yum.
Additional side effects these hormone(s) bring in babies are enlarged nipples and genitalia. The embiggening lasts up to two weeks.
When I discussed the idea of blogging about our little situation, my wife got a good case of the giggles. She didn’t know what was more funny, our boy’s boobies dripping milk, or the fact that we have a big-nippled boy. His nips don’t seem large to us, but then, what do we know?
I know what’s more giggle-worthy though. When my wife was nursing our first child three years ago, she noticed a puffy pimple in her left armpit. She squeezed it. Yep, third nipple. Lactating.
My wife is not alone. In fact, the The Superfluous Nipple blog documents famous third nipples in history. Its last update is from September 2007. I guess the blogger milked the topic for all it was worth. Har. Har.
And on a happy note, our 3-year-old daughter loves her little brother. In fact, heretofore, he will be referred to on Thingamababy by the name she chose for him: Little Brother. I may have to rename her Big Sister.