Parents

B.C. MLA Jennifer Rice Shares Induced Lactation Breastfeeding Journey

She and her wife Andrea Wilmot welcomed son Lua in December.
B.C. MLA Jennifer Rice with her wife, Andrea Wilmot, and their son Lua.
B.C. MLA Jennifer Rice with her wife, Andrea Wilmot, and their son Lua.

Jennifer Rice wears a lot of hats.

She’s the B.C. NDP MLA for North Coast, where she’s an advocate for Indigenous rights and protecting the B.C. coast. She’s also B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness.

But in December she took on another important role: mother to baby boy Lua, who she co-breastfeeds along with her wife Andrea Wilmot.

“Breastfeeding my son is something I’m absolutely cherishing at the moment,” Rice said in a Facebook post.

“This is a deeply personal story but both my partner and I feel it’s important to help contribute to normalizing breastfeeding and especially breastfeeding for non-gestational partners like myself.”

HuffPost Canada has reached out to Rice for a comment.

WATCH: How same-sex couples can share breastfeeding. Story continues below.

Co-breastfeeding between lesbian couples is not uncommon, and allows both parents to share the responsibility and experience. For Rice, who did not carry the pregnancy or give birth to Lua, co-breastfeeding was made possible through an induced lactation protocol.

To induce lactation, the non-birth parent follows a protocol that typically involves hormones, the medication domperidone (which increases milk production), and regular pumping. The Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation recommends starting the protocol about six months before the baby is due, but notes the sooner one can start, the better.

Rice told CBC British Columbia she started her protocol about three months before Lua’s birth date, and that it included birth control pills, herbs, domperidone, and, in the weeks leading up to his birth, pumping every three hours.

In a tweet, Rice said she wished she’d started sooner.

The protocol can also be used by adoptive parents, moms who have babies via surrogacy, and trans parents. In 2018, a transgender woman who was able to produce breast milk with the help of hormone treatments became the first in medical literature to be able to breastfeed her baby.

More people are spreading awareness of co-breastfeeding

Last June, Florida photographer Melissa Benzel’s gorgeous photos of couple Jaclyn and Kelly Pfeiffer breastfeeding their twins went viral.

Jaclyn and Kelly Pfeiffer breastfeed their newborn twins in this powerful image by Melissa Benzel.
Jaclyn and Kelly Pfeiffer breastfeed their newborn twins in this powerful image by Melissa Benzel.

“The images of them breastfeeding are incredibly special and heartwarming, not only do they truly show the love they have for each other but that breastfeeding is possible for a non-carrier mom,” Benzel told HuffPost Canada at the time.

In 2017, an Australian same-sex couple with the goal to raise awareness of co-breastfeeding shared images of them taking turns nursing their daughter.

“Can we talk about how NORMAL this should be? Having a desire to share the responsibility with your partner is normal and POSSIBLE. Ladies, did you know, that you DO NOT have to be the birth mother in order to breastfeed?” photographer Lacey Barratt wrote on Instagram.

Politicians getting it done

It’s also important that Rice, an MLA, is normalizing breastfeeding in general, something that is becoming more common for women in positions of public power.

In 2018, MP Karina Gould shrugged off critics after she breastfed her infant son in the House of Commons, tweeting “baby’s gotta eat & I had votes.”

In 2017, Australian Senator Larissa Waters became the first politician to breastfeed in that nation’s parliament. And in 2016, politician Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir breastfed her baby while addressing Iceland’s Parliament about an immigration bill she had put forward.

More of all this in 2020, please!

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