To some degree, some trans women will lactate naturally, others will need a supplement of prolactin. It’s not likely to be sufficient in quantity to supply a baby’s entire nutritional needs but it would be a good supplement to bottle-feeding and is an excellent way for mother and baby to bond. Some trans women can lactate. Not in volume, but it’s available all the time and has been for years. None the less, it would be difficult for a transgender woman to breastfeed, but not impossible.
First, even after years of the standard hormone therapies, most of us don’t have as much breast tissue as we would have had if we had gone through female puberty originally.
Second, the standard hormone therapies for trans women attempt to create the hormone balance commonly found in cisgender women who are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding. Extra hormones would be necessary to create the hormone balance that is typical in women who are breastfeeding.
On the other hand, the equipment is there, and it can be activated. Even if a trans woman’s body might not produce enough milk to be her baby’s sole source of nourishment, she can certainly contribute. And, both mother and child can experience the important bonding that can come through breastfeeding.
Trans Women Can Breastfeed?
Men can and have breastfed babies, with and without hormone therapy. Look online, both photos and video available. Stimulation of the nipples over time can trigger lactation in men and in women who have never been pregnant.
Anyone with the right hormones and the right physical structure can produce breast milk; cisgender males can even sometimes produce a little due to medical conditions or medication, but not nearly enough to sustain a growing baby.
Someone who’s had top surgery (female to male breast) may have had the ducts severed during the surgery. Someone on hormones (male to female) may have a small amount of lactation but, again, not nearly enough to actually breastfeed as a nutritional source for the baby.
But adoptive parents, and other parents who can’t produce enough milk, still sometimes work out a feeding plan that includes suckling, in order to create a nurturing bond with the baby. This can be done with a supplemental tube, placed against the nipple so the baby will draw formula or donated milk while suckling from the breast.
It is possible to induce lactation in anyone, even if they haven’t carried a child personally. However, lactation consultants recommend doing this in addition with a supplement tube feeding the infant formula.
The side effects of the hormones that can be used to induce it can be quite severe, but using suckling as a bonding with the baby as long as the baby is getting adequate nutrition is A-OK.
A really great list of resources on breastfeeding of transgender women is there on the internet to check out and also to buttress any issue that can come up with the trans-parenthood.