A Short List Of Things Dads Will Never Be Able To Do…Or Will They?

the three things dads can't doBack in July this year I made a meme which read;

“when it comes to parenting, there are only 3 things that dads can’t do;

1. give birth,

2. breastfeed,

3. change a baby or toddler’s nappy safely and hygienically in a public place when the shopping centre or tourist attraction only has change tables in the women’s toilets*”

And to complete it, I added the asterisks with a footnote saying;

“*and we can eliminate that last hurdle…”

And now, maybe we can eliminate all three…

“What? Men can get pregnant and breastfeed?” I hear you ask…

Maybe.

Pregnancy

I’m not going to include people like Thomas Beatie, the transgender man who was dubbed “The Pregnant Man” by the media. Thomas was born a female but in 2002 underwent sex reassignment surgery. I’m excluding that because for men like me who were born male and are still male, that’s not really the point of what I’m trying to convey here. What I am talking about is men who are still men having babies to become dads.

Remember this photo of Thomas Beatie when he was pregnant with his first child?
Remember this photo of Thomas Beatie when he was pregnant with his first child?

Now at this point I am sure you’re asking yourself “but why would they want to?” which is a very good question. I commend you for asking it.

At the moment, a lesbian couple who want to have children have the ability of one or both getting pregnant and having children. They also have the ability to adopt; and that’s the only option for a gay male couple to have children of their own. At the present time, a gay man can also impregnate a woman in the hope of her giving birth and allowing him sole custody of the child, but in many cases when this has happened the woman has reneged on the deal and left the man without his own child. Or more importantly, the child he was hoping to raise with his partner.

But what if one of them could get pregnant. Or both? It might be possible one day.

In the last few days a news story has been doing the rounds about a Swedish woman who had a successful uterus transplant allowing her to conceive and then give birth. So if it’s possible with the way that medical science can do this much right now, I expect there might be a time when they will be able to successfully transplant the whole womb in a man. Of course there would still be the issue of getting the baby out of the man when it’s due to be born. When I suggested the concept to my wife last night she brought up the ‘lack of exit hole’ dilemma and followed it up with her own further suggestion that “maybe a C-section would be the way to go.”

My guess is, if the guy was going to all that trouble to have the womb transplant, I’m sure the “major surgery” that is involved with having a Caesarean section isn’t going to phase this potential father-to-be.

Breastfeeding

Now again, I’m not talking about a man using a product like the Manary Gland as worn by Robert De Niro in the movie Meet The Fockers, rather I am talking about men lactating themselves in order to feed a child.

Remember Robert De Niro's character wearing the Manary Gland in Meet the Fockers?
Remember Robert De Niro’s character wearing the Manary Gland in Meet the Fockers?

Nikhil Swaminathan mention in his article in Scientific American that “in her 1978 book The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding, medical anthropologist Dana Raphael claimed that men could induce lactation simply by stimulating their nipples.”

There are many other great anecdotes and stories about men lactating in that article and if you’ve got the time to do so, go to Google and type in “can men breastfeed” and you will see so many other websites with articles from scientists and doctors talking about the subject. This includies this one from Jan Barger from Baby Center where she states “Yes, in theory, men can breastfeed” in response to the question. I won’t spoil the whole article by stealing the best bits from it, but I suggest you click on that link or the previous one, if not both.

Changing a Baby in Public

As I mentioned in the meme and above, this will be possible one day once all public venues start accommodating dads with change tables in the men’s toilets, or at the very least (or one might argue, an even better idea) parents’ rooms that will accommodate the parent, guardian or care-giver of the infant or toddler no matter what gender they are.

I took this photo back in January. In a high class shopping centre in Sydney there is a  mother's room, but nowhere for dads to change nappies.
I took this photo back in January. In a high class shopping centre in Sydney there is a mother’s room, but nowhere for dads to change nappies.

In one of my first posts for this blog (Dads Are Parents Too) I wrote about a tourist attraction that has been around since the 1940s, where throughout this venue there are public toilets, and some of the buildings look like they were built within the last decade, the decade where many Generation X men like me have had children. But here’s the thing; not one of the men’s public toilets have a change table, the women’s toilets do & it shows on the sign out front. There’s the men’s toilet with the wide legged stick figure man sign but he’s just there by himself whilst on the women’s toilet there’s the skirt or dress wearing stick figure accompanied by the baby laying on a change table.

Until that day, I guess it’s mothers only to change the child in all public places, or dads changing the child on a park bench, table reserved for eating, or the floor.

So come on medical science, work on those womb transplants for men and then extend that to helping dads lactate so that they can breastfeed their babies. It might be the only way us dads can truly achieve the equality we are hoping for in this thing we call parenting.

So men, if medical science made it possible, would you get a womb transplant? And would you like to breastfeed if there was a way for all men to lactate by hormone therapy?

3 thoughts on “A Short List Of Things Dads Will Never Be Able To Do…Or Will They?

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