Though online forums suggest she’s not the first to manage the feat, doctors are celebrating the case of a breastfeeding transgender woman, the first to be recorded in medical literature.
The 30-year-old went to doctors at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital with the intention of breastfeeding when her partner—who did not want to breastfeed—was five months pregnant, per the study in Transgender Health. Though she hadn’t undergone gender reassignment or breast augmentation surgery, she’d been taking hormone therapy for six years and was what doctors called a “well-developed woman,” per the Guardian.
Following a plan to induce lactation in non-trans women, she used a breast pump to stimulate milk production while taking domperidone—a nausea medication linked to increased production—and increasing doses of progesterone, estradiol, and spironolactone, reports New Scientist.
Progesterone and estradiol are female hormones, while spironolactone acts as an inhibitor to testosterone. Harder to come by was domperidone (the patient got it from Canada) as it’s banned in the US. According to the FDA, it may boost the milk-producing hormone prolactin—doctors say chest stimulation does the same thing—but it has caused heart problems and death, though in those cases it was being administered intravenously.
After three months, the woman could produce 8 ounces of milk per day, enough to keep her baby healthy and developing normally for six weeks, though the average baby consumes more than twice that daily. The woman afterwards supplemented with formula. Referring to the study as “a very big deal,” an endocrinologist who did not treat the woman predicts the practice “will be extremely popular” in the future, per New Scientist, though doctors aren’t recommending it at this time.