Behind closed doors

Adult breastfeeding: “What’s so weird about giving human milk to another human?”

A 17th century painting of 'Roman Charity - Cimon and Pero'. (Artist unknown, from the Biblioteca Museu Víctor Balaguer.)

The “misunderstood world of adult breastfeeding” was the subject of a lengthy Rolling Stone article last week, in which a variety of practitioners discussed the surprisingly broad range of reasons they are committed to the practice. “Adult nursing relationships,” or ANRs, involve one partner producing milk to share with the other via breastfeeding — often for a sexual charge, but not always. Some of the interview subjects spoke about their increased feelings of calmness or intimacy (enhanced by the production and consumption of oxytocin), while one woman had decided to induce lactation as a last-ditch effort to supply nutrients to her partner, whose digestive health was severely debilitated.

Part of the taboo around adult breastfeeding is thought to come from a belief ANRs are sexualizing an act that’s associated with babies or children, but practitioners say it is conducted between consenting adults who behave as adults within the context of their relationship — whether it’s platonic or romantic — and the suckling partner does not act like a baby or get treated as one.

Chelsea, who had induced lactation in the hope of boosting her wife’s gut health after she began to suffer seizures due to chronic malabsorption, years after a total colectomy, said the breast milk slowed her wife’s “chronic, life-depleting diarrhea … [and] helped her finally utilize the prescription vitamin regimen the traditional medical community encouraged her to follow.”

“What’s so weird about giving human milk to another human?” she asked. “We drink milk from other species, but we can’t drink it from our own?”

Read the full story at Rolling Stone.

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