Swedish dad in bid for breast milk
Published: 02 Sep 2009 17:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Sep 2009 17:49 GMT+02:00
Swedish father Ragnar Bengtsson, 26, has entered into an experiment that he hopes will help him breastfeed his future children.
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On Tuesday, the Stockholm family man began stimulating his breasts with a pump in a bid to produce milk.
"Anything that doesn't do any harm is worth trying out. And if it works it could prove very important for men's ability to get much closer to their children at an early stage," Bengtsson told The Local.
His efforts are to be documented by Swedish TV8, with the first instalment scheduled to air at 9pm on Wednesday on the Aschberg show. Bengtsson also maintains a blog on the station's website, the title of which translates as: 'The Milkman - One Drop at a Time'.
Bengtsson is preparing to pump his breasts at three-hour intervals every day until the beginning of December. As a full time economics student at Stockholm University, he is not always going to be in a position to pump in private.
"I'm going to have to pull out the pump during lectures. But really it doesn't bother me if it makes people uncomfortable. If they have issues with it that's their problem," he said.
Male lactation is a relatively common side effect of hormone treatments, but Bengtsson has no plans to chemically induce the process.
"If it works and the milk turns out to have a high nutritional value it could be a real breakthrough," he said.
Bengtsson has a 2-year-old son who is in no way involved in the experiment, but the Stockholm dad doesn't rule out breastfeeding any future kids. Not everybody has acclaimed his quest for fathers' milk, however.
"There have been a lot of strong reactions. Some people think it's completely sick," he said.
Sigbritt Werner, professor of endocrinology at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, told The Local that it could be possible for Bengtsson to produce "a drop or two" after three or four months.
"Women breastfeed after they've been bathing in estrogen during a nine month pregnancy, so obviously it takes some time. But if he works on it regularly he'll likely notice a layer of tissue forming beneath the areola and it should be possible to produce enough of the hormone prolactin to cause lactation," she said.
But Werner stressed that while she was interested in the subject, she was more keen for men to use their breasts to comfort their children.
"Men often have trouble finding things. And if the mother is out, the child is screaming and they can't find the pacifier I'm sure there are a lot of men who give their baby their breasts.
"Healthy children know instinctively that the breast has a dual function. One gives them milk, the other gives them warmth and a cosy bond. Men don't need to strive to produce milk but they should take the opportunity to get closer to their child by offering them their breasts in the same way as women," she said.