Understanding Oxytocin and Bonding 
by DrJim

 

Women who have engaged in an Adult Nursing Relationship have said of the experience that it is; Pleasurable, extremely intimate, bonding with their mate, arousing, fulfilling, somewhat addictive, the deep feelings of closeness almost spiritual. What is it that causes women to find this experience so deep and pleasurable? From my perspective as a male it is a bit of a mystery. I know that I want the woman that I love to cling to me, to be happy and find pleasure in my arms. I want my touch to always be a little arousing to her if that is possible. I derive my greatest pleasure when she has pleasure with me. Women crave intimacy with their mate, emotionally and physically. Just as it is hard for males to understand what makes a woman tick concerning her breasts, so it is hard for females to understand the endless fascination that males have for the female breast. I believe understanding the role of Oxytocin in the body can help. Oxytocin is the 4th hormone in the sequence of hormones that play a role in the development and function of the breasts. Oxytocin is the hormone that causes milk ejection of course, but it does much more than that. 

Oxytocin has a variety of effects in the body, both physical and emotional. It has been under study a lot recently with interesting findings being reported from researchers. It has been reported that Oxytocin plays a role in men as well as women particularly with bonding. Oxytocin’s role is much more limited in men than women, at least in the current understanding so the discussion is limited to women. With women it plays a major role in the experience of pleasure, sexual arousal and physical intimacy. 

Oxytocin is released from the hypothalamus, an important area that controls the Pituitary.

The hypothalamus receives inputs from physical stimuli such as nipple suckling and clitoral stimulation. The physical inputs are much more complex that this alone though. The hypothalamus also receives inputs from the limbic system, which is the seat of emotions, arousal and desires. Consequently physical stimuli alone will not cause the release of Oxytocin. The woman’s mood and feelings completely affect it.

Oxytocin causes milk ejection from the breasts by making little muscles contract around each alveolus. It also causes rhythmic contractions of the uterus, another special muscle. Most importantly it also stimulates the pleasure center in the brain. In contrast to Nicotine, a nasty thing that also stimulates the pleasure center, Oxytocin is a good thing that stimulates it. Oxytocin is similar to endorphins that are released with exercise which cause pain to become less noticeable and give the person a sense of feeling good, almost euphoria. Endorphins give the “runners high”. Oxytocin gives a pleasurable reward and makes the woman want to repeat that behavior. 

When a woman has an orgasm during intercourse, a flood of Oxytocin is released. This causes her to experience powerful pleasure. The uterus contracts causing sperm entering the cervix to be pumped quickly up to the fallopian tubes, hastening them on their way. When her partner fully penetrates her and ejaculates against her cervix, Prostaglandins in the semen also cause her to release Oxytocin with its subsequent effects including the pleasure response. Of course, if they have an orgasm at the same time, she will get a double dose of Oxytocin. In the non-pregnant state these contractions are not unpleasant and often described as a feeling of butterflies or fluttering in the pelvis. If there is milk in her breasts, she will have a forceful letdown. If there is no milk present she still may experience a pleasant tingling in her breasts from activity in the alveoli.  She also has a flood of Endorphins during orgasm, which causes her to have decreased pain perception and euphoria. Immediately after the orgasm the continued effect of Oxytocin and Endorphins cause her to experience all the feelings of “Afterglow”. It is Oxytocin to a great extent that may cause her to say; that was great, lets do it again. 

Immediately after childbirth the uterus is very large and sensitive to the stimulation of Oxytocin. Oxytocin plays a very important role in causing the uterus to contract to stop the bleeding. Putting the newborn to the breast is the traditional way to stimulate the release of Oxytocin to keep the uterus firm and not bleeding. Today doctors usually give some Pitocin (Oxytocin) supplement to make sure this happens. This illustrates how the breasts and uterus are intimately connected in their function.

Nipple stimulation causes Oxytocin release. Clitoral stimulation also causes Oxytocin release, actually all the touching involved with sex can cause its release. Women have many erogenous areas on their body, which can cause Oxytocin release when touched in an arousing way. Kissing and stroking behind the ears are examples. There are lots of ways to cause Oxytocin release, BUT it all depends on the woman’s frame of mind, how she feels. She can have nipple stimulation such as trying to breast feed an infant, but if she is upset, not relaxed, not wanting it, not comfortable with herself, she will not have the release and letdown. On the other hand, sometimes something can trigger her feelings such as hearing a child cry and she will have a spontaneous release of Oxytocin and letdown without physical stimuli. There was a confession by a woman reporter who had an infant that she breastfed. She had an opportunity to interview a handsome male actor whom she admired some. She asked him some questions and he gave her some good answers. It was not until the end of the interview that she looked down at her blouse and realized that she had a significant letdown sometime during the interview and soaked the front of her blouse. Although they probably both did not realize the significance of this, she wore the positive feelings she felt toward the man on the front of her blouse. Just her interaction with him caused her to release Oxytocin. 

Clearly all the hormones, feelings and emotions that accompany the intimacy of intercourse also occur with breast stimulation, perhaps not with the same intensity, nevertheless do. It is a pleasurable thing to involve breast play with sex, indeed breast play is often the prelude to sex. Some women will have an orgasm on occasion from nipple stimulation alone and usually are aroused faster when nipple stimulation is added into all the other activities of foreplay. An ANR consistently elicits all these feelings and emotions although to a lesser intensity. Breastfeeding an infant for the woman should be a pleasurable and bonding experience. Some woman have experienced arousal and even had an orgasm with breastfeeding. Nipple suckling is arousing, causes Oxytocin release, is pleasurable, can lead to orgasm and triggers bonding feelings with her participant, whether it be her husband or infant. There was a report in the news about a woman who was reported for child abuse because she found breastfeeding her infant arousing and occasionally experienced an orgasm while doing so. She was threatened with the removal of her child. This I believe shows a gross misunderstanding of how a woman works in her feelings and emotions in relationship to her breasts. From a males perspective, I love breast play and I love how it affects my wife’s feelings and emotions. It brings out her most feminine traits. An ANR just amplifies these things. 

Researchers recently did an experiment where they had young women volunteers have an interview with a stranger who was a researcher. To half of the volunteers they gave an injection of Oxytocin, to the others a placebo. They found that the Oxytocin caused the women to respond more positively emotionally, rather that logically to the strangers. They tended to think the stranger would be friendly and trustworthy even though they had no logical evidence to go by. Oxytocin plays a major role in the bonding that takes place between a male and female in a new relationship. Oxytocin is called the hormone of bonding because of this. Couples physically touch a lot, holding hands and kissing and simple body contact. All of this causes Oxytocin release and feelings of pleasure and bonding. She may say; “I want to touch him, hold him, I can’t stop thinking about him, I can’t wait until I see him again, I think I am addicted to him”. All of this to a great degree is the influence of Oxytocin. After marriage the honeymoon period that lasts typically a year is also associated with higher levels of Oxytocin, which eventually decline unless the husband keeps a little “Romance” in his relationship with her. Women who participate in an ANR with their husband experience these same feelings and find fulfillment in the touching and the physical and emotional intimacy that occurs. 

Swooning is an interesting thing. Women of any age under the right circumstances may experience this, but it seems young women experience it most intensely. It may occur when they meet a man and experience strong romantic feelings of emotional and physical attraction. Perhaps the reader has seen young women at a concert such as Elvis Presley or the Beatles (or more current musicians) swooning. The women become emotional, want to touch the performer and sometimes pass out. I think what happens is this; their intense physical and emotional attraction in the setting of mild sexual arousal causes them to experience a flood of Oxytocin triggering pleasure in association with tingling in their breasts and fluttering in their pelvis. They feel a physical as well as an emotional response to the performer reinforcing their experience. It is all emotionally driven, not physical at all. There are now several companies on the internet who are selling a cologne spray for men that is loaded with Oxytocin. The idea is that any young man who is covered with Oxytocin will cause a young woman who he meets to respond favorably to him. She will trust him, bond with him and favorably respond to his advances. This is all based on the premise that she will absorb enough Oxytocin from contact with him to affect her this way. Does it work? I kind of doubt it, but the idea is interesting. What man doesn’t desire women to find him irresistible? 

Now consider issues about when there is not enough Oxytocin. When a woman is lactating the alveoli in her breasts produce and fill up with milk until they cannot hold more. When the pressure in the alveoli exceeds a certain amount the milk production stops. If the milk is not removed from the alveoli within a certain time they will turn off and her milk output will decrease and breasts will dry up. Of course when women deliver a baby and choose to not breastfeed they dry up their breasts by binding them to keep the pressure up on the alveoli and avoid nipple stimulation to keep from releasing Prolactin more than necessary. Oxytocin causes the little muscles that surround these alveoli to contract and push the milk out into the ducts and sinuses underneath the nipple and areola. Once the milk is out of the alveoli they can continue producing milk. When a woman is post-partum and complains of not being able to produce enough milk the issue is almost always related to not releasing enough Oxytocin. When would this occur? In my experience, a young woman is more likely to choose not to breastfeed or to quit after a short trial if she is; 1. Single and alone in the endeavor, her boyfriend/husband has left her. 2. She does not feel comfortable with the breastfeeding experience because she has no experienced mother or woman mentor to turn to. 3. Her husband feels negatively about her breasts lactating. 4. She does not like her body image (her breasts are too big or she is afraid they will loose their shape etc.). 

Pain also inhibits the release of Oxytocin. When a woman is post-partum and her breasts are painfully engorged, or she has developed mastitis or her nipples are painfully sensitive, or she is in emotional pain and cannot relax, she may have a difficult time with letdown and getting the milk out of her breasts. This particularly applies to post-partum engorgement when she may be in tears with pain and cannot get a drop out. The best advice is to relax, take a pain pill and apply heat or take a warm shower allowing the water to massage the breasts. Interestingly, since endorphins block pain and encourage Oxytocin release, there could be some benefits in trying to boost them in this situation. I had a patient recently, a young mother who had a one month old infant whom she breastfed. She presented herself (with her husband and infant) to the emergency room with an extremely painful acute gallbladder attack. She had not fed the infant in almost 6 hours and he was crying continuously. She was very full but could not breastfeed him until I had given her some Morphine (works somewhat like endorphins) to ease her pain. 

When a woman is in a positive, loving relationship with her husband inevitably she is going to produce Oxytocin and probably not have these issues. How important it is for the husband to love her passionately at this time and support her. If he does, she will most likely be a woman who loves the breastfeeding experience and produces more than enough milk to meet the infant’s needs. Her body image and general feelings about herself depend more on how much he loves her body than just about anything else. When he loves her body and she knows it she responds by releasing plenty of Oxytocin. 

So what kind of things does understanding Oxytocin enlighten us about an ANR? 

  1. The hormone Oxytocin makes a woman feel good in many ways, more is better.
  2. Many of the things that make sex pleasurable can also make breastfeeding pleasurable.
  3. An ANR can be pleasurable in many of the ways that sex and breastfeeding are.
  4. Oxytocin is instrumental in bonding between the woman and her partner as well as infant. An ANR amplifies these feelings with her partner.
  5. The relationship comes first, the husband should make her feel secure in his love for her and his commitment to the relationship as the bonding experience of an ANR promotes an even closer co-dependent relationship.
  6. Inducing lactation calls for a significant commitment on the woman’s part in a similar way that the risk of becoming pregnant makes most women think twice before having sex, consequently he has to reassure her that he has a similar level of commitment.
  7. For husbands who are trying to talk their wives into exploring an ANR, the joys of experiencing all this Oxytocin has got to be a strong incentive.
  8. Husbands who enjoy a passionate, intimate and sexual relationship with their wife will be much more likely to convince her an ANR is a good thing to try.
  9. Husbands need to make sure their wives feel good about their body and that they are amazingly attractive in their eyes as this promotes Oxytocin release in her.
  10. When a woman has passionate, positive feelings about producing milk from her breasts for her infant or husband, she will likely have good letdown experiences and produce plenty of milk.
  11. When breastfeeding, women quickly associate the infants hungry desire with their own breasts fullness and experience letdown (Oxytocin release) just from the emotional cues.
  12. When in an ANR women quickly associate their husbands desire with their breasts fullness and have spontaneous letdowns in anticipation of nursing.
  13. One of the best things a woman can do when trying to induce lactation is to use her imagination to visualize the pleasures of her husband desiring milk from her breasts and her breasts flowing with milk to meet his desire.
  14. When inducing, experiencing lots of tingling letdowns in the breasts is a great sign that milk is soon to appear and if present, to increase.
  15. The sum of Oxytocin in an ANR is this; you love her, she will produce milk for you.

There are so many beautiful things for a couple to experience when exploring an ANR. The bonding, intimacy, vulnerability, sharing and touching are all potent sources of pleasure. Oxytocin is pleasurable, addictive and healthy. Experiencing the life and fertility in her body as it responds to the challenge of producing milk is potent for both.

 

DrJim

 

 

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