"Chestfeeding" kit would allow men to produce breast milk, but procedure may swell chest to a B cup

The kit may hit the stores in as little as five years, but its development is still in the early stages and has not been clinically tested yet


                            "Chestfeeding" kit would allow men to produce breast milk, but procedure may swell chest to a B cup

The inventor of a "revolutionary" hormone kit that enables men to breastfeed has said it could hit the stores in as little as five years. The procedure involves a man ingesting a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs during his partner's gestation timed in such a way that he grows milk ducts on his chest by the time the baby is born. Designer Marie-Claire Springham claims its side effects will likely include men growing breasts to a B cup, although the development of the kit is in its early stages and has not been clinically tested as yet.

Speaking to Daily Mail, the 24-year-old inventor, who studied product design at Central Saint Martins, London, said: "I can’t see why couples wouldn’t use this. It seems unusual but women have been using hormones to change their bodies since they developed the birth-control pill. Many women struggle to breastfeed. This is an empathy tool so a male partner could help in a really useful and supportive way."



 

Earlier this week, Springham was crowned the winner of the world's first Meaning-Centred Design Awards for her "chestfeeding" kit, which was also her final year university project. The procedure, which is still in the concept stage, would involve a man taking the hormone progestin once a day as soon as his partner is pregnant.

Progestin stimulates the development of milk-producing glands that are needed for breastfeeding. It is a form of the better-known hormone progesterone. Then, the man would have to take the drug Domperidone four times a day during the last six weeks of the woman's pregnancy. This hormone stimulates the production of prolactin and is often prescribed to women who struggle to breastfeed. Prolactin is the hormone that signals a woman's body to produce breast milk. Finally, the man must continue ingesting this hormone-drug cocktail for as long as he wishes to breastfeed the baby.

According to Springham, he would be capable of releasing milk at this stage if he held a baby owing to the release of the hormone oxytocin. However, a man's nipples generally need more stimulation than a woman's and so the kit comes with a pump that helps release milk - quite frequently used by women who struggle to breastfeed. The aforementioned drug regimen is based on forums where transgender people have discussed taking similar hormonal cocktails to produce breast milk, Springham said.

Katherine Fisher, a lactation consultant, said: "Male lactation is clinically possible, and provokes interesting questions about what parenthood means in the 21st century. Lactation can be induced in certain circumstances via a course of hormone therapy. All attempts to better understand what gender means in parenting should be welcomed."

That said, it is yet to be established if a man's breast milk could be as nutrient-rich as a woman's. Also, the exact side effects are unclear due to the kit only being in the concept stage. According to the inventor, gynecomastia might be an issue, which is a condition that occurs when a man's estrogen levels exceed his testosterone and causes his breasts to enlarge. Statistics show that gynecomastia affects over 60 percent of teenage boys to a limited extent.

In order for a man's breasts to hold milk, their size may swell up to a B cup during the procedure, Springham added. "The kit contains a compression vest that acts like a breastfeeding bra," she said.

She also adds that other side effects also may occur, similar to those that women experience when taking the contraceptive pill. These include bloating, headaches and mood swings. While it is unclear how many men will be willing to test the drug recipe on themselves, Spring told Daily Mail: "All the technology is there. This could be available within the next five-to-10 years."

Meaning-Centred Design Awards chair Julie Jenson Bennett said: "The chestfeeding kit deserves particular attention because it challenges the fundamental meanings of male and female, father and mother, parent and child. At a time when we increasingly use hormones, medication, and technology to change the life options available to us, Marie-Claire's design concept goes right to heart of our taboos."

Having said that, Springham added: "I'm thrilled to have won such a prestigious award. The kit has the power to take what we thought we knew about parenting and turn it on its head, breaking down the strict gender and societal roles we have created for new parents. I hope the discussions raised by this project are taken further and inspire even more innovation and progress."