Nursing your baby is “supposed” to feel really really good. All the way from pleasantly relaxing to just a tad arousing. There is quite a spectrum. The longer you nurse the more you may note these gradations of sensations and experiences along the spectrum. This is so not just about making milk.
Breastfeeding your baby can be an intensely pleasurable experience designed to make you want to do it often and for there to be tremendous psychic and physical benefits to you, your child, your partner, your family, and the planet.
The veritable soup of hormones flooding your body lights up and connects many chemical and neurological receptors. Orgasm, Oxytocin, Prolactin, and Relaxin and the Let Down Reflex are all part of signaling cascading behavioral events that link us as mammals to our unique human experience of sex, childbearing, lactation and enduring positive social relationships.
How women specifically and mothers in particular experience the impact of the presence of these hormones is not just new ground for research, but new ground for us to give voice to the waves of strong feelings and emotions as we nurse for at least a year after the birth of our babies.
Having someone you love and are attracted to be close to you and to suck on your nipple produces a surge of hormones for both parties especially with the mother-baby couple. Is it sexual, of course it is! How you feel about that is mediated with how you feel about all things sexual, physical and sensual and how you experience sensations emanating from your own body as you relate to others. Many of us do not associate sexuality and sensual experiences as pleasurable. The very same oxytocin that allows you to nurse your baby, allows for pleasure and orgasm, uterine contractions, the flow of your milk, as well as all sorts of things related to facial recognition and bonding.
While you are able to have sex, and get pregnant without an orgasm, having an orgasm with sex, especially during conception is so much more fun and strengthens those bonds of family and connection.
Nursing your baby comes from love and promotes love. Pumping the milk from your breast with a noisy machine while sitting in a break room away from your baby does not promote the same experience as having someone you love and nurture suck on your breast.
Maybe the first time you even heard of oxytocin was during labor when it was proposed to you as a stimulant given intravenously to induce or speed up contractions. It made mild or so-called ineffective contractions occur more regularly and to function to move the baby out in a hurry because you were taking too long. This is an abrupt shift in how we feel and it is definitely painful. Many women struggle to keep up with the stimulants given to speed the labor and birth of the child and forever experience a rush of pitocin, the other name for oxytocin as scary and painful.
There is a an incredibly complex tangle of hormones that we are still just learning about. Oxytocin is still considered a mystery hormone and we are so unclear of what it does and the deep role it plays in reproduction, digestion, pain, and attachment. When women tell us more about what they experience, we can perhaps link those experiences, feelings and behaviors with the endocrine system as it surges through our bodies. There is a strong mind-body connection that links love, emotions, stress, and a sense of well-being. While we can so easily see breasts as sexual objects of desire; it makes sense that we quickly reject breastfeeding as potentially unnecessary public displays of affection that promote sexual arousal in ways we find inappropriate, threatening and unacceptable.
While some may want to compare nursing your baby to learning to ride a bike; being scary at first where you learn new skills, fall a lot, and then identify a few things that just need figuring out. It is so much more than a mechanical act of feeding and nutrition. It is hard to put into words an activity that takes practice before you experience ease and mastery. Once you get the hang of it, few things are more exhilarating than riding a bike leisurely down a quiet path or at breakneck speed down a long windy hill; but nursing your baby is different in some important ways about what we learn and experience new things in relationship to others.
Please tell us your story about your experience of pleasure while nursing your baby.