The vast majority of men will never breastfeed, and certainly don't have much frame of reference to know what it's like. As a result, I asked men to describe what they think breastfeeding feels like, because this should be good, right? A while back, I asked men to describe what they thought contractions felt like. Their answers were hysterical and creative and they were great sports about the fact that they knew I was going to "LOLWUT?!" them at some point.
I don't expect guys to have good answers to this particular question. For one, anyone who hasn't nursed would be reasonably in the dark. Breastfeeding is weird. The first time I fed my baby the sensation wasn't shockingly novel, but was nevertheless different and sort of odd. I couldn't have known exactly what it was going to be like until I tried it for myself. But most guys have the added complication of not knowing what it's like to have a female body. So how can you even imagine what it's like to breastfeed when you don't even know what it feels like to have lactating breasts?
So, for those among you who have breastfed: close your eyes and imagine what it's like. Think of your lived experience. Think of the physical and emotional effects that experience had on you. Now, get a load of this:
"I imagine it to be like bloodletting, but with milk."
To which I ask:
Seriously, man, are you a 17th century apothecary? That would be sort of cool, because I've never met a time traveler before, but if you're not then any other alternative makes me a little bit nervous.
Arthur went on to add: "I also imagine it’s like an sensation of endlessly draining a ripe white head."
Cue 30 minutes of dry heaving.
"Maybe it feels like having your blood pressure taken rapidly, over top of a giant, slowly draining zit."
If I never hear a breast being compared to a blemish ever again, I can look back on my life in satisfaction, no matter what else happens. Because OMG, barf, guys! Gross! Boobs are beautiful! Why are you thinking about zits and pimples and stuff?!
As for the blood pressure aspect, points for creative thinking, but no. Not really.
"Like a hickey with stuff coming out."
I can only assume, Jonathan, that you mean getting a hickey, not, like, having one. And, OK, sure. Under bad circumstances, a breastfeeding baby can call to mind a clueless high school fling, because some babies have a strong-ass latch.
As for "stuff coming out," I am not going to laugh at that one, because that's a perfectly reasonable thing to think, but you don't really feel anything coming out. You feel letdown and your boob being drained, but generally speaking you don't necessarily feel milk coming out of your nipple (which can be a real mindf*ck for moms, especially moms who are having difficulty with nursing or baby weight gain).
"I don't know, the same as someone sucking on your nipples ... and you have some kind of magical connection..."
Yes. We can read one another's minds. That's why new moms breastfeed so much. It's not because the baby needs to eat every few hours. It's because we're mind melding and plotting against you.
Oh. No, honey. No. It's a very different nipple sensation on, like, every level on which there can exist a level.
"I have to imagine it's the closest a human being can get to understanding what it's like to have remoras. Or maybe barnacles? What's the correct marine life reference here?"
For those among us who aren't acquainted with sea creatures, this is a remora:
They have suction cup heads (no, really) and usually attach to sharks so they can eat whatever the shark doesn't.
This is a barnacle
They exist in sharp, pointy, ouchy little shells that can cut the sh*t out of your feet if you're not watching where you walk during a rock walk by the beach.
In general, I'd say it's more like a remora situation where they just sort of latch on like a suction cup and don't let go. But sometimes they can get chompy and their nascent teeth (or even just their gums) can feel like miserable little barnacles.
So, I'd have to say it's an ungodly combination of a remora and a barnacle. Like a barmora. Or a remarnacle.
"Like peeing, but through your boobs."
And when I told him how wrong he was, he was, like, really and genuinely surprised that he was so far off base.
"So, you can't feel it going through you??"
Not really. Letdown feels different. It certainly doesn't feel like your nipples are peeing.
"Weird," said the man who uttered the phrase "peeing but through your boobs."
"It seems like it would hurt, especially once they get teeth. Could you explain that to me? I really want to know how that works. Or do you just develop really tough nipples?"
So, breastfeeding can absolutely hurt, especially in the beginning, but it's usually not a teeth issue. With a proper latch a child's bottom teeth are covered by their tongue, which positions their top teeth in such a way that they're really not going to bother you any. Also, once kids have a full set, they are generally smart enough to figure, "This is where my milk comes from, so I'm not going to bite the boob that feeds me."
Of course, some kids can be assh*les (or distracted) and bite you and it hurts. Other times, teething babies will gnaw on anything to soothe their gums. So you do, occasionally, have to develop pretty tough nipples. But generally, under typical situations, no, it doesn't hurt, not even after they get teeth.
"I read somewhere that breastfeeding mothers produce endorphins when they feed a baby. Is it like a runner's high where you get a feeling of euphoria?"
Don't I wish.
"It seems like you would feel a flow or something, which would be interesting. It also seems like it would hurt doing it several times a day. I think I would be nervous about my levels of nutrition! Emotionally, the closeness and dependency would be rewarding, I think. It probably gets old after the fiftieth time though."
Well, that is more or less accurate (though, again, it's not so much feeling a flow as just feeling the pressure decrease).
Well done, Danny!
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