Any mom can tell you that the pressure to breastfeed a child can often be overwhelming. Despite having the desire to exclusively breastfeed, it's something that can be physically and mentally overwhelming for a new mother. Breastfeeding your child can be demanding and difficult, but a new male breastfeeding kit may be just what new parents need to help both parents experience being able to feed their baby.
Marie-Clarie Springham is just 24 years old and the brainchild behind the chestfeeding kit, something that may be able to help fathers produce their own breast milk so they can participate in feeding their children.
"This project began when I learnt about the code of silence that surrounds the issue of mental health and new parents," Springham told Parents.com. "I was shocked to learn that over half of women experience emotional problems postnatally or during pregnancy and that new fathers also often suffer, experiencing feelings of exclusion and a fear of being 'unable to cope.' After learning that common trigger of postnatal depression for mothers is the pressure to breastfeed, I developed this kit to help couples support each other, as well as their new baby."
The chestfeeding kits works by stimulating the production of milk producing glands in the man by giving them the hormone progestin. This man made form of progesterone, which is the female sex hormone, would stimulate the milk production. The man would begin to take the hormone once he found out his partner was expecting, and approximately 6 weeks before the due date they would be given a different hormone that would stimulate milk production.
The chestfeeding kit also provides men with their own pump as well as a compression vest that acts as "the male equivalent of the maternity bra." Springham told Parents that she created the chestfeeding kit as "an empathy tool that enables dads to take a more active role in the first six months of the baby’s life and allows moms to relinquish some of the pressures and duties of parenting."
Springham's creation was the grand prize winner in the Meaning Centred Design Awards in London this week, with the jury chair stating the kit "deserves particular attention because it challenges the fundamental meanings of male and female, father and mother, parent and child. At a time when we increasingly use hormones, medication and technology to change the life options available to us, Marie-Claire’s design concept goes right to heart of our taboos.”
The chestfeeding kit isn't currently available as it is still in the testing stages, but it could be available in as little as 5 years, which would make a huge impact on parenting and gender roles.