Wednesday, April 9, 2008


It turns out, male lactation is a phenomenon known to occur due to various reasons, including hormone intake, drug intake (which makes sense), but also evolutionary pressure may lead to it, and this is so interesting I had to share it. Men have all the same equipment needed for breastfeeding, and if stimulated, the nipple may produce milk.

The Lactating Widower:

A Sri Lankan widower has attracted the attention of doctors for his ability to breastfeed his young daughter.
Mr B Wijeratne, from Walapanee, near Colombo, took to breastfeeding her soon after his wife died three months ago while giving birth to their second child.
His elder daughter, 18-month-old Nisansala Madhushani, was so used to her mother's milk that she would not take formula milk.
Mr Wijeratne told Sinhalese language newspaper Lankadeepa: "My child would reject the powdered milk I tried feeding through a bottle.
"Unable to see her cry I offered my breast. That's when I discovered that I could breastfeed her."
The 38-year-old's ability to produce milk was noticed by doctors at the government hospital in the town of Kurunegala.
Dr Kamal Jayasinghe, a spokesman for the hospital, said: "Men with a hyperactive prolactine hormone can produce breast milk."
His younger daughter, who has still to be named, has taken to powdered milk.

I was reminded of the myth of how Zeus gave birth to Dionysus, after the original mother Semele died. Zeus carried Dionysus inside his own thigh. The myth does not mention breastfeeding, but based on what I now know the myth was probably incomplete. More on male breastfeeding: - Milkmen, a short film on male breastfeeding - interesting article, included the following account:

I knew these two wonderful guys, very dear friends of mine for years. A mutual acquaintance of ours was pregnant, unplanned, and did not want to do the whole "adoption thing" so when the guys approached her about taking the baby, they just proceeded as if it had been a planned surrogate pregnancy. The guys were adamant that the baby should get breastmilk. So when she was in her 7th month we bought a really good quality breastpump and Ian started pumping, every 2 hours during the day and once during the night. He was wonderful about it! He used an SNS (supplimental nursing system) after she was born, with donated milk from several friends who were nursing. He was making milk but not a full supply. By the time the baby was 12 weeks old he was making a full milk supply! He stayed at home with the baby (he was a massage therapist) and nursed her exclusively until she was 8 months old!! I don't think many people outside their intimate circle knew about it, I'm sure folks would have had a fit if they'd known...but I thought it was wonderful!

And, finally, the article entitled Are the men of the African Aka tribe the best fathers in the world? describes the interchangeability of gender roles between the men and women of the Aka tribe, as well as the frequency of male lactation among them.

This one article in specific got me thinking of the possibility that, with overpopulation and climate change on the horizon, and the very real chance of food shortage that we will face, it is entirely possible that some human populations will face the kind of evolutionary pressure that may require many or most of the men the lactate and breastfeed within several generations, so that this may eventually become the norm in some cultures and men's bodies will begin to reflect that change.

There is a huge body of historical evidence that shows that one of the elements that influences the evolutionary development of men and women within the diverse cultures of Earth is culture. The book 'When God Was a Woman' mentions that in many cultures in the Middle East, such as Libya and Egypt, it was women who went to war and worked, and men stayed at home. The same was the case among Celts, and chronicles mention that several thousand years back, Celtic women were much larger physically, and much more muscular. Later, as a result of patriarchal programming, women became smaller.

It seems, therefore, fair to propose that culture does affect evolution, and that it does affect the physical appearance of men and women after many generations of social programming, and that if we convince women of their physical superiority, and even encourage and pressure them to be stronger and more physically active, that they will begin to act on that programming and begin to change and grow physically, just as by convincing them of their physical inferiority we have in fact made them smaller over the last several millenia.

Perhaps as the attitudes towards male parenting and gender roles change in some cultures, eventually men's bodies will also change just as the bodies of women have changed throughout history as a result of social and cultural programming ...

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