Dear Loving Milk Maid: Is it Possible to Become Addicted to ANR?
Dear Loving Milk Maid,
My husband and I began nursing over a month ago. We were both curious about what it would be like, but not really focused on an ANR, per se. We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed it! We were nursing every day, and for some reason, I began to worry that I was enjoying it too much, and decided to stop, which was very disappointing to my husband. Because he wanted to continue, I agreed to nurse again, but not with as much regularity. I really do love the experience, but I’m worried that I might become addicted. Is this even possible? Thank you for your help.
Addiction, a condition typically characterized by compulsive behavior that rewards the stimuli in our brains, is a scary word because we automatically associate it with negative influences in our lives. For some people, the painful struggles with addiction are very real and often life changing, for others, the fear of addiction is a concern that may hinder their ability to enjoy the simplest pleasures.
For years, even the most traditional breastfeeding relationships, such as the ones shared by mothers and their children, have not always been met with encouragement, support, and acceptance. If a woman chooses to breastfeed beyond a 12 to 24 month period of time, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the practice is often scrutinized and labeled as extended, exclusive, full-term, or continued, and the issue of breast dependency and the fear of causing psychological damage arises as society attempts to determine what is “healthy” and “normal”. Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics encouraged the sharing of a breastfeeding relationship for as long as it is mutually desired nearly 20 years ago, the shame and guilt of “what if I am nursing for too long?” can sometimes lead to secrecy and a hidden breastfeeding practice known as “closet nursing”. With so much stigma surrounding this loving and natural act, it’s really no wonder we adult nursers question our decision to open an ANR–and our desire behind it.
New experiences are exciting, and it’s very natural for a nursing couple to enter into a “honeymoon phase”, especially when you first begin an ANR. Suddenly, it seems that nursing is all you can think about, and is playing a much bigger role within your foundation relationship than you expected. This is a biological response triggered by the physical act of nursing that we cannot control.
Oxytocin, a neuropeptide released through nipple stimulation via the pituitary gland, is believed to promote feelings of love, trust, relaxation, and comfort in both females and males. Also known as the cuddle chemical and hug hormone, this bonding agent is what draws a nursing woman and her partner together, connecting them on a deep level of intimacy, sometimes after just one nursing session. Because oxytocin is necessary to the breastfeeding relationship, particularly if you hope to pursue lactation, as it aids in successful breast milk production, it is sometimes associated with only suckling, when, in fact, it is actually released through many forms of physical contact, and is also what helps us to enjoy sexual intimacy with our partners.
It truly isn’t the breast or the physical act of nursing that we’re drawn to, but all of those fabulous feel-good emotions that we associate with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding causes a lot of hormonal shifts and imbalances, but these will level off and even out, and over time, as you continue to nurse and you become accustomed to these new and unexpected feelings, you’ll probably find that your ANR has become just another beautiful addition to the loving relationship you already share with your spouse.
Essentially, you can stop the practice of nursing, but no matter what, you won’t be able to stop the release of the “love hormone”, so let it flow!
There is absolutely no scientific evidence proving that nursing (or even the desire for it) in any form causes psychological damage to either partner, or that breast dependency exists. As long as you’re involved in a healthy relationship, you really don’t have anything to worry about!
If you want to learn more about maintaining independence within your ANR, you can click HERE.
Thank you for your question. I hope this helps to reassure you so you’re able to fully enjoy the beautiful new ANR you’re sharing with your husband.
Loving Milk Maid ❤️
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