Sexual Feelings When Breastfeeding

Oh, it feels like such a taboo subject, I’m almost scared to write about it. Actually, I’m really scared because the thought of an angry mob coming after me accusing me of child abuse — you know, because I’m an extended breastfeeder — is rather off putting.

I remember as a first time mom with a baby a few months old sitting in a circle with a group of mothers when one confessed that she sometimes feels sexual arousal from breastfeeding. And I remember thinking there was something a little weird about that. I didn’t have problems breastfeeding, but I certainly didn’t find it orgasmic!

In almost three years of breastfeeding, working with breastfeeding women, and becoming something of a lactivist, I never heard of this phenomenon again.

Then my second child was born and with her came toe-curling, breath-catching, painful thrush — and a sickeningly sexually stimulating feeling when my toddler breastfed. I felt so horrible about it, like there was something wrong with me, and I couldn’t understand what was going on. I certainly couldn’t talk to anyone about it!

Fortunately, Google is relatively anonymous and when I started researching it, I found that it is a fairly common thing, but there has been only one study I could find, and there’s very little formal information on it.

However, if you consider how breastmilk is made, and you realise that oxytocin is a hormone that stimulates ejection of milk, that release is triggered by breast stimulation, and that oxytocin does other things in the body too — like contractions of the uterus during childbirth and during orgasm — it actually makes a lot of sense.

“In a 2000 study of breastfeeding women, 40.5% of the participants reported feeling sexually aroused at some point during infant suckling. 16.7% reported being aroused frequently during breastfeeding. In a more recent paper that reviewed several studies between 33-50% of women described breastfeeding as erotic (and 25% of those women said they felt guilty about it).”1

Now, you might think this plays into the argument of people who say that mothers breastfeed toddlers for their own gratification, but the problem is that while it may be a sexual feeling, it is not a pleasant one. Not by a long shot. (It may be for some, but for many it is extremely uncomfortable!)

I found it heartbreaking, to see how my relationship with my older child was changing because I so dreaded nursing her, and while we were nursing sometimes, I’d have to physically yank my breast away from her because I couldn’t handle the sensation. I hated nursing her and hated that the change happened overnight.

Incidentally, nursing my baby wasn’t a problem at all — it was just the toddler!

If you’ve experienced or are experiencing this sexual stimulation during nursing, and you’re finding it hard or uncomfortable, and can’t or don’t want to force wean your older child, I have good news for you: It ends. I don’t know when or how it did, but a few days ago I was nursing when I realised I wasn’t entirely grossed out by it. I was so incredibly relieved!

Also, you’re not alone. You’re not unusual, you’re not a freak, and you’re not at risk of abusing your child.

It’s been five long months, and I actually look forward to restoring some of the joy to our nursing relationship now, and again intend to continue breastfeeding as long as my beautiful daughter wishes to do so.

I do think it’s worth talking about though, because as a “common” phenomenon, it’s very underrepresented in conversations and education about breastfeeding, and I think being prepared for the possibility, the first months of tandem breastfeeding would have been a lot less conflicting and I could have settled into it much more easily.

Have you experienced feelings of arousal or distress during breastfeeding? How have you coped?

  1. “Arousal, Orgasm and Breastfeeding,” Cory Silverberg at About.com.

About The Author: Luschka

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Luschka is a mother to two little girls. She is passionate about the principles of Attachment Parenting, and although she admits to learning as she goes, she likes to share what she's learnt with others - possibly because of her experiences in adult education. AP challenges a lot of Luschka's own background, which she loves as it makes her research and study everything. She writes at Diary of a First Child , documenting the journey for those parents who don't live in idyllic isolation, but still want to follow this path with their families.

32 Responses to Sexual Feelings When Breastfeeding

  1. D

    Thank you. I’m 21 weeks pregnant with my 4th. I nursed #1 and 2 until 15-16 mo. #3 is 22 mo and he still nurses 3 times a day. Until 2 weeks ago, nursing was extremely painful since being pregnant. This same pain was the reason I weaned my #2 when I was pregnant with #3. But she was ready to wean, this one just isn’t. I pushed trough the pain, determined not to wean until he was ready. I did allow myself to go from more then 9 feedings to 3 feedings a day and recently after he finally slept though the night for 4 nights in a row, I stopped nursing him during the night.
    My joy that this pain finally ended didn’t last vey long. 2 days later these sexual feelings came during nursing. I hate it and would love to trade them back for the pain! At least the pain stopped after nursing. When pregnant my libido is always high, but now it’s really frustrating! Every day hubby and I don’t have intercourse I’m frustrated and this doesn’t make me a fun mom! I just want to cry!!! I can’t believe I pushed through the pain only to get here. I don’t want to wean my toddler, but I can’t see how I’m going to be able to tackle this. He’s high sensitive and nursing time is a moment he can find rest.

  2. Uzra Hashmi

    I belong to a waning joint-family but after marriage have been living with my husband and his first wife (my distant cousin andnow ‘co-wife’). In my community breastfeeding children up to the age of 5-6 years is a common phenomenon. I have had five biological children (lost one) and breastfed all of them full term, including the four children of my co-wife (as she did mine) on day-to-day basis. I experienced this arousal sensation for the first time while my co-wife’s daughter (then less than a year) and later with three other children (two my bio.). Allah, I lived almost 5 years quite often experiencing it out of my almost continuous lactation of 10 to 11 years. Somehow I found it pleasantly bearable but at the same time very perplexing. When I sought my doctor’s advice on this (then it had been for about a month), she said that it happens sometimes with some women, but there was nothing to worry; it passes. She even jokingly complimented me saying that it was like a boon and that she also wished to have such sensation to know about it. She believed that breasts are also sex organs and how did it matter whether the sensation came from the aroused husband or an innocent baby. Personally I believe that the sexual arousal during nursing comes from the peculiar physical condition of the mother (diabolism, and some days of the menstrual cycle when the nipples are more sensitive, etc) and the way the sucking / tugging by the baby at the breast. I never “always” felt from the same baby – only sometimes and “never” with others. My co-wife said she never experienced it but felt curious about it. I have gone dry since the last three years. I look back to that erotic sensation just as another experince with nursing.

  3. jamie

    Thank you so much for this article! I just wish i would have read more sooner. My toddler is now 2 years old and unfortunately it’s because of this ‘feeling’ that I stopped breastfeeding in the 2nd week! My breasts have always been ultra sensitive so much so that I banned my husband from even brushing up or playing with them when we were not ‘in the moment’ because I instantly become aroused. I mean as a sexual partner I always saw this as normal…however when I had my baby that feeling never changed! I was confused…I would close my eyes and squirm when she breast feed…it was horrible…I hate to compare it to this but for me it was similar to being molested against my will. I thought something was wrong with me because my brain could not shut off the connection between my breasts and my girly parts. Needles to say I was so confused that I stopped breast feeding and I was truly unable to communicate this to anyone. Luckily I found a pump that cupped my breast instead of sucking on my nipple and I was able to breast feed for a month this way…I still feel so bad about this.

  4. Mrs. Uzra Hashmi

    I experienced the erotic sensation off and on for several months (after my third child was born) while I was breastfeeding my second child as a toddler. I had heard about it from an acquaintance but did not pay much attention to it. So, the first time it happened to me, though the sensation made me snatch away my nipple from her mouth, I was reminded that it also happened. It was like circular sensation emanating from my breast but very quickly engulfing the whole body, seeming unbearable though intensely pleasant, but stopping short of an orgasm. When I consulted my doctor (who was also a nursing mother then) , she said that some women had told her about it but she had herself not experienced it. Interestingly, as a professional she wanted to herself feel it. She told me that in due course it would pass; and nothing needs to be done. Further, there was nothing to worry or feel guilty about it. After that I tried to brave it when it occurred and succeeded several times. Slowly the frequency diminished and after a couple of months it stopped happening altogether. Indeed, to me it seems that it is purely physical and has to do with the body chemistry at a particular point of time and the pressure applied by the suckling, etc.

  5. Soon to be mom of 2 boys

    Glad to know that I’m not alone. I feel guilty of sometimes cutting our nursing sessions short because I cannot stand that weird feeling I get whenever he feeds while running his hands all over my upper body. Makes me think that something is wrong with me. =( Hope it goes away soon.