Primal Sex: Bosom Buddies
Copyright © by Jeannine Parvati Baker
Nursing mothers are notorious for their disinclination toward sex – and no wonder when for most women, giving birth is not the ecstatic culmination of nine months of foreplay. For most women childbirth is a painful ordeal – so why repeat it again so soon by inviting another conception through sex?
I believe the desire for sex after giving birth is mitigated by how the baby was born, but there is more to the mystery. (1) Even in the non-traumatized population of mothers having babies at home, most nursing mothers feel burdened to some degree for their mates’ sexual desire is usually more frequent. This has been explained hormonally – that a lactating woman has a baby and does not desire sex because her lap is already full with the biological imperative actualized. The message (hormone means "messenger" in Greek) is, why have sex now when the consequence of intercourse is already here?
However, there is a population of mothers who do desire sex after birth and almost as frequently as their mates – they are the freebirth community. A freebirth is when a couple gives birth as an expression of their sexual love rather then a medically surveilled event with the paid paranoid in attendance, either doctor or midwife. (See Marilyn Moran’s paper in the Pre & Peri Natal Psychology Journal for her report on this topic of husband only attended homebirth.) A couple who claims the full responsibility of their sexual love by birthing their baby in privacy, becomes more responsible, that is better able to respond to the child’s life thereafter. They have not given their power away to the institution to rescue them from the natural consequence of heterosexuality. Yet even in this group some of the mothers when nursing feel confused about their husband’s desire for erotic communication. They are in love with their mates, but some of the mothers are just not up to the frequency of sex their mate desire.
I think this has something to do with a relatively new event for humans – generations of bottle-fed men are becoming fathers. When they see their wives nursing, they are unconsciously stimulated into an erotic response based on unmet infantile needs. The mother senses this and becomes confused – her breasts are sexual yet when lactating, the sexuality experienced is of another dimension than the sexuality with her husband. A man who was not nursed generally focuses on his lover’s breasts as erogenous – whereas a man who was nursed fully, is attracted primarily to his lover’s genitalia, buttocks, hips to waist differential.
As the man becomes a father, his unfinished sexual business is evoked as he begins again the primal journey. Reliving his own gestation, birth and (lack of) lactation through his lover, the mother of his child, some men become obsessed with the breast full of milk as the most erotic part of his lover’s body. The minority of men who had their full measure of mother’s milk when it was needed, in infancy and into the toddler years, relate to the mother of their child as their lover, not primarily as their own phantom mother. A bottle-fed man did not learn the give and take of sexuality at breast as relationship, but instead imprinted upon an object rather then a woman as source of nourishment. He was primally disappointed and lost a basic trust in the feminine which colors his view of all women, particularly THIS woman when he becomes a father himself, the mother of his child.
Now Marilyn Moran, author of BIRTH & THE DIALOG OF LOVE, (2) advises women to let their husbands nurse as often as they wish in order to satisfy his longing. Yet many mothers trying to do this (for they love their husbands and want them to be happy) find it a difficult task. The challenge is the mother’s own response to nursing a grown man and then nursing her baby or both simultaneously. There are benefits of course to fathers nursing with their babies – they become real bosom buddies, gazing at one another across the mother’s heart. Yet there is a difference to note here – when a man breastfeeds along side his baby as a bosom buddy, not competitor, he less often will become sexually aroused and aggressive as when he is nursing in private sex play with his wife or nurses like a bottle-fed baby who relates to his source of nourishment as an object holding a diminishing supply.
A woman can nurse her husband now and again as a nurturing, pleasurable experience – what I am distinguishing here is a father who primarily is attracted to nursing, playing with lactating breasts not only as fore-play but during- play and after-play as well. Mothers married to such men will report that they feel "pawed" (no pun intended) and over-touched or "touched out". I think this has to do with HOW breasts are touched as much as the frequency. When a lover touches my breasts appropriately, there is no revulsion.
My thesis is, a mature sexuality has integrated primal wounds, for without bringing the imprints of sexuality into awareness and consciously choosing which patterns to interrupt, there is a host of consequences to endure. The prevailing issue leading to divorce is sexual disharmony (and the sequelae, adultery). This often is brought about after a baby is conceived and/ or birthed.
The men’s movement has been instrumental in bringing out men’s stories as they become fathers. Over and again is heard the tale of sexual rejection – men feeling shut out of the loving twosome of the mother and baby bond. I posit this is largely the response of an earlier rejection – by their own mothers, which from a baby’s point-of-view, is primal sexual rejection. This is displaced upon the wife who then is manipulated by the way her husband comes onto her sexually – with confused signals. Here he is the father of her baby acting more like a baby then her lover and wanting her to fill a need that was optimally met a generation ago by his own mother.
What I hope to evoke by this article is compassion based on a new understanding of how primal psychology colors sexuality. For a long time mothers have felt guilty for not arising erotically to their husband’s desires after the children come. Women have been made to feel as if something was inherently wrong with monogamous marriage and that perhaps multiple wives might be the answer to this dilemma. However, polygamy is fraught with it’s own set of problems, bigger ones, than monogamy so it is no easy remedy. Rather by women understanding that if her mate wasn’t breastfed by a sexually mature woman himself, he may be as much responsible for her disinclination toward sex as she is.
The way I see it, we are in this procreation journey together. There are as many mysteries of the masculine to discover as there are mysteries of the feminine. Monogamy is the crucible for this enlightening mix of genders. With trust and honest communication, we can become partners-in-love as parents. Within the healing journey may be excursions to the past, the primal unmet needs of either or both of the parents. These museum tours of pain are important to explore for the evolution of the possible family, for there is a rare child who is cared for in a whole way and allowed to nurse for several years based on the baby’s needs. This article has looked at some of the deeper mysteries of sexuality during the lactation period – and with compassion on both partner’s parts, we can come together, free of the old patterns of sexuality which inhibit our mature, human sexuality and fullness of joy.
1) Marilyn Moran Journal of the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health. Moran demonstrates that couples who do-it-themselves in childbirth have an increase in sexuality post-partum.
2) BIRTH & THE DIALOG OF LOVE New Nativity Press, Leawood, KS October 22, 1995 Junction, Utah
Copyright © by Jeannine Parvati Baker
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other articles by Jeannine Parvati Baker
~Shamanic Midwifery, Hands That Heal Birth part 1
~Shamanic Midwifery, Hands That Heal Birth part 2
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