Surprise! I'm Lactating

It happens rarely, but doctors say babies, men and infertile women can lactate.

ByABC News
November 14, 2008, 5:46 PM

Nov. 17, 2008— -- "My wife began laughing and rushed over with the baby. There I am sitting at my computer, working, as she sticks my (newborn) son in my face and points to a white dot on his nipple," Andrew Jones, author of the blog, told

Jones' newborn son was producing "witch's milk" and luckily for Jones, his wife Susan is a labor and delivery nurse and could explain what was happening.

"She wiped it away and squeezed his nipple, and another droplet appeared," he said. "She was all fits and giggles. My first reaction was, 'Stop that!' because who wants to see a baby nipple squeezed?"

High levels of hormones in the mother's body can sometimes transfer through the placenta to the baby in the womb. As a result, both boys and girls can then develop mini "breast nodules" that mimic lactation.

"I was shocked, surprised and amused. I had previously blogged tongue-in-cheek about the potential for fathers to breast-feed babies, and here was proof that males can produce milk," said Jones. "It was an 'I'm going to blog about this' moment. ... It shocked a few people. Mostly it was another parenting curiosity, one of those things they don't tell you in baby books."

About 4 percent of infants produce witch's milk in the first two weeks after birth, according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The Joneses knew not to worry because the extra hormones clear out of the baby's body within weeks and, as Jones discovered, the witch's milk goes away.

Witch's milk, man milk, adolescent milk: According to a reproductive endocrinologist, technically, anyone can lactate under the right conditions.

"Lactation is basically a process that is not just reserved to pregnant patients," said Dr. Sami Jabara, director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock.

On Friday's episode of "20/20", Nancy Beatie, the wife of the "pregnant man" Thomas Beatie, told Barbara Walters that she is nursing the Beaties' daughter.

Experts say the reasons a woman like Beatie, who has not recently been pregnant, can nurse a baby also explains how non-mothers can potentially breast-feed.