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Breastfeeding can turn you on, and that's all right

Chaunie Brusie is writer, speaker, and labor and delivery nurse. Her first book, Tiny Blue Lines, a guide to young motherhood, was released in May 2014. She writes about life as a young mom of three.

Don't feel ashamed if breastfeeding turns you on

On the rare occasion that I have even thought about it, it has been a curious phenomenon to me how breasts, the almost leading source of a woman's sex appeal and oft-beloved prop in foreplay, are also completely functional food funnels.

I mean really, a mother could go from feeding her baby to messing around in the bedroom in the span of minutes, so how weird is it that one act is so sexual and the other so not?

Well, as it turns out, they may not be as separate as I thought.

Most of us think that breastfeeding can wreak havoc on a couple's love life. With all of the hormones that cause the milk to flow, namely oxytocin and prolactin, a woman's sex drive is physically diminished and her "pleasure center" in the brain, the one that causes her to feel all content and at peace, is activated through breastfeeding, so emotionally, she feels fulfilled by caring for her baby. Basically, in a nutshell, nature doesn't need a woman feeding a baby to get pregnant, so the hormonal side of her body doesn't help her want to jump in the sack. Mom + baby = we're good, so leave us alone, Dad.

But, there's another side to the story, and it's one that doesn't get told as often. For some women, breastfeeding itself can be a turn-on.

Arousal during breastfeeding is rare, but it does happen and one study theorized that women can get turned on during breastfeeding just as they would with sexual foreplay because the two acts have similarities, such as:

  • Nipple erection occurs in both breastfeeding and normal sexual arousal.
  • The breasts get handled and nipples get stimulated with both.
  • Both experiences involve skin-to-skin contact.
  • Oxytocin can cause uterine contractions, similar to post-orgasm and milk let-down in both experiences.

Other theories include the fact that breastfeeding is a deeply sensual act that can cause a woman to feel powerful in her body and connected to her sexuality in a whole new way. Or, it may come down to more chemical reactions. "When you think about the hormones involved in lactation, it does make sense that having sensations of arousal could in fact be quite possible," says lactation consultant Jana Stockham of NuuNest. "Oxytocin is probably the culprit — this 'feel good' hormone is released when you experience an orgasm."

With all this in mind, know that if you are a woman who has ever noticed a strange sensation while breastfeeding, fear not — you're not the majority, but you're not a complete weirdo. And, if it makes you feel any better, Jana points out that it is important to note that women realize that the physical sensation is separate from any emotional feelings toward the baby. "How their body reacts to this stimulation when it involves the baby is nothing to be ashamed about, but probably a more common occurrence than we are aware, as it may be an awkward topic," she says.

And for those of you currently lactating? I apologize for the awkwardness I have probably caused you when you go to feed your baby today. But you never know — you and your partner may be thanking me later, if you get my drift.

More on breastfeeding

Why do you breastfeed?
Is your baby cranky because you breastfeed?
Pushing through: I made breastfeeding work

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