Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wierd Breastfeeding Question -- Or Maybe, Not So Uncommon

Q: Hi! I am a Norwegian mom and i was browsing the net for some information regarding lactation. Well to tell u in short, I leak milk when doing sex with my partner. Is there any way to stop it? Whenever i feel aroused it just squirts out. And also i have a confession to make -- i dont know how other moms think of it but i always get sexually excited when nursing the baby. Is it normal for moms to feel that way? Please advice soon.
Amanda, Norway

A: Dear Amanda,
Okay, this is a good one. This question points up one of the things that freaks us puritanical Americans out regarding breastfeeding, and that is, if it feels that kinda good, shouldn't it be done with your husband? (We'll address the leaking issue in a minute.)

In fact, I'm not entirely sure your letter is from a real mother and not some devotee of Jerry Springer's episode on lactating strippers. But I'll answer, because I think a lot of moms (and moms to be) have the same question, if not the same feelings.

Breastfeeding, the actual act of one's milk ducts being compressed in order to produce food for one's offspring (gee, hon, it sounds sooo sexy when *you* say it), should feel good, so that we do it. In other words, when it makes you scream in pain, you're likely to toss that newborn away if you're foraging in the bush and there are no formula marketeers in your hunter/gatherer group. It feels especially good for most moms because of their release of oxytocin, which used to give me, nursing my first baby, a buzz not unlike that first wonderful glass of a full-bodied red wine (which you should limit if you're a nursing mama, or learn to pump and dump).

After a decade of nursing (not the same child! Four of them, silly!), I was such an oxytocin junkie that I didn't notice when it was there, only when it was not. When my firstborn cut back from nursing all the time to hardly at all, I got a little weepy. As for the physical, just like in sex, some people feel every feeling quite intensely, others hardly at all. The erogenous zones are, like our faces and personalities, unique. So some women do feel stimulated, while I, for example, feel, well, nothing. (Perhaps I should speak to my doctor). Here's what my favourite breastfeeding expert, author Janet Tamaro (click here to get her book, So That's What They're For) has to say about having, say, an orgasm while nursing: "Don't panic ... Your brain has just secreted a hormone that is telling your body to feel good. This does not make you a child molester, and it doesn't make breastfeeding immoral. ... It's not that likely, so try not to worry about it or let it stand in the way of a comfortable breastfeeding relationship with your baby."

In other words, take that good feeling, and use it on your partner. From your letter, it doesn't sound like you're turned on by your baby, only by nursing. After baby goes to sleep, you can share the wealth with hubby. Which comes to the other part of your question. If you nurse or pump before you have sex, that could help stop the leakage. So could pressing your arms against your breasts when you start to feel letdown. Or you could just go with the flow and have sex in the shower and swimming pool or on a towel to deal with the extra.

You're perfectly normal. (Which may be the only answer you were looking for.) Albeit blessed with quite an abundance of milk. Contact a milk bank and see if you'd be a good donor!

Hope I was helpful!


Elita said...

Great advice! I really liked that the breastfeeding books I read all addressed this issue and all said that feeling sensual or turned on while nursing is perfectly normal. At first, I was so icked out that I felt that way and finally I just gave into it and allowed myself to feel good. Honestly, after a couple months that intense feeling went away.
The oxytocin high you described is the only thing that kept me going once I returned to work. I'd come home and sink into the couch with my son and I could just instantly feel the stress of the day leaving my body as he nursed.

Roxanne Beckford Hoge said...

If only you could bottle oxytocin for later. I don't like the post-drink feeling, and my regular substitute, Ben & Jerry, turns out to be rather high calorie. Who knew? ;)