…the fuck. Dit moeten we niet willen met zijn allen: een man die elke dag zijn tepels aansluit op een handkolf in de hoop dat zijn melkklieren actief worden (ja die hebben mannen ook). Het schijnt dat een redelijk percentage mannen ervaring heeft met spontane afscheiding van melk uit de tepels (gebeurt vooral tijdens puberteit en adolescentie), dat is al erg genoeg, maar deze man zoekt het dus zelf op:
The more I learned about male lactation, the more curious I became. I’m 33 years old and single in New York City, a cross between Carrie Bradshaw and George Costanza—if there’s such a thing as a male biological clock, mine has started ticking. I know I can’t birth a child myself, but what if I could bear one to suck at my bosom? Could my rudimentary mammae yield a copious supply of milk?
“I might actually be able to do this,” I thought to myself. It all sounded straightforward—I just needed a big surge of prolactin. Where would I get it? Prolactin isn’t commonly available as a pill or shot, but there are some prescription meds that stimulate its production. Drugs like Reglan (metoclopramide) and Motilium (domperidone) are prescribed to women who have difficulty producing milk or have adopted a newborn and want to breast-feed. They come with potential side effects including insomnia, nervousness, and a movement disorder that causes irrepressible twitching.
The problem is, these pills aren’t typically prescribed to 33-year-old writers who just happen to be curious about filling their chests with milk. When I asked a lactation consultant for advice, she was hesitant to provide any. Breast-feeding is still stigmatized in many parts of America, she said, and she didn’t want to worsen its reputation. She also reminded me that while I could give myself a pharmaceutical boost, it would require a doctor’s approval. I could have tried more aggressively to procure some Reglan, but as I imagined myself dealing with increased mood swings, possible depression, and my body twitching out of control, I became afraid.
Fortunately, there’s a more natural way to stimulate milk production. When a baby (or a non-baby) sucks on a nipple, the movement activates mechanoreceptors that connect to the brain and stimulate the pituitary gland. Adoptive mothers can use a breast pump to access this nipple-based lactation process: A standard pumping schedule can take up to two months and ideally involves pumping each breast every three hours around the clock. Here’s the rub: Men have the same receptors in their nipples as women, so the pumping method should work just as well for us.
It was strange to apply a breast pump for the first time. My nipples aren’t accustomed to regular stimulation, and though I felt like I was defying the natural order, pumping was surprisingly pleasant. Nipples are filled with nerve endings, after all, and the gentle upward tug of the pump was both comforting and erotic.
And then I realized I was missing something essential: a child. For all our assumptions about breast-feeding, the one abiding truth is that it exists to nourish and comfort new life. The walls of gender could be broken down, but without a child to benefit, what was the point? I’d read with great interest the anthropologist Barry Hewlett’s account of his time with the Aka Pygmy tribe in central Africa, where fathers suckle their children when the mothers are away. Not all of the men lactated, but they seemed to understand the gesture is as important emotionally as it is physiologically. Aka men are within reach of their children 47 percent of the time—more than for any other group in the world, according to Hewlett. That sounded beautiful to me. But without a child of my own, I couldn’t compare myself to the Aka. Good reader, I lost heart.
Noem me een ouderwetse, rolbevestigende macho, maar dit gaat me te fur. Misschien dat ze op de Echte Mannenbeurs een stand kunnen openen met melkkolf-apparatuur voor mannen.