Friday, December 17, 2010

On breastfeeding and pleasure

One of the things I wondered about before I became a mother was whether nursing a baby would feel good.  (This is basically the adult woman's answer to the teenage wonder about what sex feels like).  Now that I've crossed over, I can tell you:  sort of.

I think my previous curiosity was specifically about whether there was physical pleasure at the breast from a suckling baby.  The answer for me?  No.  Not at all.  At best, the physical sensation at the breast is neutral; at worst, and especially for the first couple weeks, it hurts a bit. breastfeeding physically pleasurable, in a more general sense?  Absolutely.  The feeling of your baby sinking into your arms, her belly filling with milk, her warm little limbs going limp in sleep--it's wonderful.  A warmth washes over me almost every time.  Love that oxytocin.  So there's whole-body pleasure, and it's definitely physical, but it doesn't feel like it emanates from your boobs the way I thought it might before I tried it.

And it occurred to me--there are plenty of things that we can do for ourselves that make ourselves feel good.  Eating chocolate.  Solving a hard math problem.  Finishing a race.  Some of those things are even good for us!

But can you think of anything else that we do that's good for other people and also involves very tangible pleasure for yourself?  OK, aside from sex (but that's because the other person is also, hopefully, doing for you).  I know, I know, you feel good when you serve others in an abstract, intellectual way--you may even get an emotional rush.  But that warm rush that you get when you're breastfeeding your baby?

I think it might be the singular experience of feeling physical pleasure from taking care of someone else.

(Sorry, men).

Well, actually, they look pretty cozy.


  1. It is an indescribably rewarding experience for both mother and child. Prior to motherhood I was always freaked out by the thought of being so "intimate" with my baby. I am so glad that we have these moments though. I talk to my grandma (mother of 12) about nursing and I can see that it is a treasured memory for her.

  2. I know, I can already tell how sad I'm going to feel when it's time to wean...

  3. Huh, I can't really remember it that well! I remember that I loved it, but I can't remember the ACTUALITY of it. I guess if I'd had twelve kids, Anamaria?

  4. Yes, I'm sure that having a baby attached to your breast for at least a quarter of a lifetime would make it kind of hard to forget huh. I just feel so privileged to be part of this "club".