My Newborn Son is Lactating

Close-up photo of a baby boy nipple with a white liquid dot at the center.

[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.

What is far more likely is neonatal galactorrhea or pseudomenses. That’s when baby boobies of either gender produce milk. (And baby girls can experience pseudomenstruation. Ugh!)

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.

Three photos of my baby boy's nipple. One normal, one with my wife's fingers squeezing the nipple and a third showing a drop of milk coming out of 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.

Photo of my daughter hugging her baby brother.

Comments

19 Responses to “My Newborn Son is Lactating”

  1. Marianne O. says:

    Great photo. Your daughter looks very proud indeed.

    March 31st, 2008 at 7:11 am

  2. AJ says:

    Thank you. Yes, it’s a beautiful and loving photo of my daughter.

    Wait a minute. The boy is lactating! Am I the only one who is surprised? Have I finally grossed everyone out?

    March 31st, 2008 at 7:26 am

  3. Erica says:

    I’ve read about it in “What to Expect” and other books, but never seen it in real life. Congrats? Maybe your wife can take a break and Wilson can feed himself. Sweet!

    March 31st, 2008 at 8:58 am

  4. Cindi says:

    Hello, I must be living in a cave or under a rock! I have never heard of this with baby girls and/or boys lactating. You taught me something new. It makes sense, but I have never experienced nor been told about it. The picture of your two children is wonderful! How special they are. Cindi

    March 31st, 2008 at 9:18 am

  5. Kathleen says:

    Guess you are going to have to try harder to gross us out :)
    Very cute pic of the kids….

    March 31st, 2008 at 9:33 am

  6. Eric says:

    OK, I have to say, I’m a little bit freaked out…..

    March 31st, 2008 at 11:00 am

  7. Mama Peach says:

    That is a beautiful picture!

    Now when I brought my baby girl home from the hospital, and her breasts grew a little and she had a menstraul cycle, THAT surprised me. So your son lactating, while it does make me go ‘hmmmm’ – it doesn’t really surprise me (nothing does anymore!)

    What DID surprise me was suddenly my friends of baby girls (including my own sister) were telling me what my DD was experiencing was pretty normal. Huh? How about mentioning this to me at some point before it happens? So Kudos to you for getting the word out that this can in fact happen. :D It will perhaps help a parent who suddenly realizes their newborn is ‘leaking milk’ :)

    March 31st, 2008 at 2:52 pm

  8. thordora says:

    Look how happy she is!

    I hate to admit feeling skeeved about this. I know it happens but it’s setting off the weirdmeter. :)

    April 1st, 2008 at 5:37 am

  9. ericafromamerica says:

    so nice to see your daughter embracing big sisterhood. very sweet picture. would love to see more…

    April 1st, 2008 at 6:19 am

  10. Christy says:

    I totally missed the pseudomenstruation portion of our newborn days. (I was in bed with a C-Section and the accompanying drugs.)

    I did notice her lactating a bit though. I new that it was possible, but I didn’t know that it was probable.

    The Big Sister and Little Brother are precious. Congrats on your lovely family.

    April 1st, 2008 at 7:40 am

  11. brandy says:

    Hormones are crazy, crazy things.

    The only thing I’m wondering is how it’s gonna be 13 years from now, when your teenage son finds out you once shared a picture of his lactation with the world!!

    April 3rd, 2008 at 6:46 pm

  12. christine says:

    yes babies can experience this, little boys also. my doctor said that a newborn carries some of moms hormones in them for the first little bit. which makes sense cause they did, like, hang out inside us for 9 months. it will go away

    December 6th, 2008 at 9:46 am

  13. jon says:

    at least two of my children, one a boy, lactated as a baby…why the heck didn’t i think to take pictures! i thought it was more common than it was at the time.

    January 6th, 2009 at 2:58 pm

  14. chasity says:

    yes! i thought something was really wrong with my son he is 3 weeds old and i just noticed it i was very freaked out

    March 30th, 2009 at 11:15 am

  15. meenakshi says:

    i think all kids do secrete milk .in india the milk is extracted from the male child by gently sqeezing the nipples. it does no harm to the kid. so it is not a point of worry

    March 31st, 2009 at 5:55 pm

  16. Lin says:

    Thank you for the information.
    My daughter was born March 10, 2009
    I wondered is this normal? Is something reallly wrong with this?
    But now I am informed and know that it has a name pseudomenstruation.
    I’m not as worried.

    April 5th, 2009 at 10:07 am

  17. Virginia says:

    It was a big surprise to me. I had two boys and they didn’t have anything like this. Then my youngest some brings his newborn over and says, “Mom get a load of this, my son is lactating!”
    Then he goes on to say it happens and the Dr. says there is no need to worry it will go away in a few weeks. Even though I’ve raised two sons I certainly don’t know everything. I’ve also never seen an un-circumcised baby. I thought you had to pull back the foreskin to clean him only you can’t pull it back. Now I’m finding out that they don’t just circumcise the baby after you give permission. You have to pay extra and they don’t even cover it in the insurance.
    The world sure is different.

    August 26th, 2009 at 4:06 am

  18. Silva says:

    You are hilarious. Best of luck to your family

    November 23rd, 2010 at 7:49 pm

  19. Angie says:

    My son is just under 4 weeks old and is currently lactating. I am breastfeeding and he was born at full term, which are both circumstances. He was also born with Postaxial Polydactyly, which is where he has an extra joint of finger extra near his pinky’s. Technically they are considering it to be a 6th on each hand because they have nails. In both circumstances it’s said to be a 5% chance of having them. So he must be a VERY lucky boy :) We did everything by the books during our pregnancy, I wonder what else we’re in store for down the road!

    September 10th, 2011 at 12:01 am