Levels 3 & 4

For some, suckling from a pair of warm, soft lactating breasts to receive the sweet sustenance of breast milk is a beautiful and scintillating fantasy, but dedicated nursing couples who have chosen to wet nurse within the bond of their own ANRs know the reality that lies netled within this intriguing dream: lactation is a labor of love.

As magical as the process of making breast milk truly is, lactation does not just happen. The art of inducing–and maintaining–that supply of lovely milk takes effort and time. When choosing to wet nurse, both partners make a conscious commitment and accept great physical and emotional responsibility for the other’s well-being, and for many nursing couples, this dedication is very much part of the intimate bonding experience that they share within their ANR.

Suckling as a means of enjoying the experience, rather than the breast milk, within a dry nursing relationship can be less challenging than suckling as a means to induce lactation; it affords the couple a more flexible (and, yes, completely carefree) nursing schedule, as dedicated suckling times aren’t a necessity. When working together to produce breast milk, both partners must make the time to nurse, but knowing that you’ll have that prioritized time in your partner’s life is a wonderful and rewarding part of the wet nursing experience; not only does it aid in lactation, but it is beneficial to the foundation relationship, too. No couple will truly ever be as connected as the nursing couple.

Lactation can be measured in 10 levels, and while these are simply general guidelines, they can often help to assist a woman in charting her lactation progress. In yesterday’s post, which you can read by clicking HERE, I discussed the beginning of the lactation journey and what you might experience as you reach and complete the first two levels of lactation. Always remember that you are unique, and your own journey into lactation is never comparable to another woman’s. Cherish your body and your beautiful breasts, and know that every aspect of the nursing relationship you share with your loving partner is something to celebrate.


Into the Journey of Lactation

(and what to expect)

Lactation Levels 3 and 4

You and your partner have shared the excitement and joy of opening a beautiful new chapter in your foundation relationship, and worked alongside one another to begin the amazing process of inducing lactation; you have discovered your most reliable source of support in the person who lies in your arms and suckles from your giving breast. Together, you have weathered the storm of emotions that often arrive with Level 1, celebrated the incredible physical and emotional changes you’ve experienced as a woman and as a nursing couple, and found the comforting haven of Level 2.

So, what comes next?

By the time you reach Lactation Level 3, you and your partner have probably established a nursing routine that suits your busy lifestyle. At this point in the journey, there is still room to adjust your schedule, and level 3 provides much of the same comfort and flexibility as you found in level 2. During the third phase of lactation, you will continue to work together to produce breast milk, concentrating your efforts on production rather than flow. There may be very little difference in the amount of fluids your partner is receiving in comparison to those of level 2.

You have probably noticed a change in your relationship, even when you are not nursing. You may experience a beautiful rush of new love, and desire your partner’s touch throughout the day. You may long for him when he is away, and eagerly wait for his return. Don’t be surprised if your libido increases! It often does, and this is just one of the many benefits of sharing a dedicated adult nursing relationship with your life partner!

You may even discover that you are communicating more as you discuss your suckling schedule, choose comfortable feeding positions, and openly talk about the challenges and joys you’ve found within your nursing relationship, and this is a wonderful way to build that desired level of intimacy and ensure that your connection to one another remains strong.

During this third phase, you may experience your first increase in breast size. Your nursing breasts will continue to swell with the impending promise of milk, and you may feel little “growing pains” as they prepare to sustain your partner, and they will feel soft and pliable to the touch after each nursing session. At this point, a missed nursing should pose no physical discomfort to the breasts. But this will change as you transition into Lactation Level 4.

The fourth phase of lactation is often considered one of three milestone levels in the journey of lactation. At this point, nursing becomes vital, as the desire to be suckled from shifts from being an emotional longing to a physical need. Your breasts have now grown very accustomed to your nursing schedule, and your body has adjusted to–and welcomed–your daily routine. During this beautiful milestone phase, your body is working strenuously to achieve the goal of partial lactation, so if a nursing session is missed, you may experience physical discomfort. It is extremely important that your partner is available to nurse at the allotted suckling time. Typically, a breast pump isn’t very effective at this phase, as you’ll be unable to release and express milk on your own. You may no longer see the appearance of colostrum during hand stimulation or expression. Don’t worry! The milk is there! 🙂 It is simply building in quantity and waiting to be released by a suckling mouth, as our bodies have intended since the beginning of time. (Go ahead and use that helpful pump to stimulate your breasts, but don’t depend on it to empty them just yet!)

During this phase, the possibility of engorgement presents itself to the experience, and it is painful. Not only does engorgement, which can occur in either one or both breasts, cause a lot of physical discomfort, it can make latching very difficult, as the swelling can cause the nipple to retract and flatten against the areola, further impeding the suckling process. It can be very difficult for a woman to enjoy nursing when she is engorged, but if you can tolerate the discomfort, you should continue to nurse if possible. Suckling is really the best cure for engorgement. Prior to nursing, you can take a warm shower or bath, but try to avoid a lot of heat, as this can cause engorgement to worsen, or employ gentle breast massage, or reverse breast stimulation to move the swelling away from the areola. Nurse from the least painful side first. Engorged breasts are often stubborn breasts, so your partner may have some difficulty in drawing milk from the nipple. Remain relaxed, patient, and focused, and encourage him to continue with a gentle suckling rhythm, as he may be tempted to pull forcefully against the breast in hopes of really encouraging the release of that milk. You or your partner can incorporate firm and steady breast compressions while nursing to aid in releasing your milk. After 5-10 minutes of nursing without results, move him to the second breast; he can always return to the first side when he has finished. At this phase, it is perfectly fine to nurse outside of your schedule (although you shouldn’t skip your “set” time) if you feel the need to do so.

As challenging as Level 4 may seem, it is actually a beautiful phase of lactation. (It was one of my personal favorite! :)) You will begin to see the fruits of your labor, and at this time, you will come to truly depend upon your partner in a way that you never have before. This is such a loving and generous phase, and knowing that you have someone you can fully rely on to fulfill your emotional and physical needs is a fantastic part of any relationship!