Recently, Tasha Maile, a self-described "breastfeeding vegan mother" and divorced mom of three who vlogs as SpiritualTashaMama, went viral for one of her videos, in which she confessed that she breastfed her baby during sex. Although Maile's video had actually been posted in 2015, it made the social media rounds earlier this month, prompting ire from all corners of the internet.
The video particularly enraged breastfeeding activists, many of whom have devoted their lives to proving that breastfeeding isn't an inherently sexualized act; by openly discussing her habit of nursing during sex, they claimed, Maile was undoing all of their hard work and giving nursing mothers a bad name. (For what it's worth, Maile has also recorded custom videos of herself pumping for lactation fetishists, which she sells on the website ClipsForSale; she says her children do not appear in these adult videos.) Some people accused Maile of pedophilia, even circulating a petition demanding that she be put on the sex offender registry and that Child Protective Services (CPS) investigate her. Others have defended her.
Only you can decide what you think of Maile, but her videos have raised significant questions surrounding motherhood, sexuality, and whether or not breastfeeding is (or can be) sexual. To try to answer some of those questions, find out why she posted the video, and ask how it's even possible to nurse during sex, Romper got in touch with Maile. She spoke to us from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah while her children, aged 5, 2, and 4 months, played in the background.
As told to Ej Dickson:
I made the nursing during sex video a while ago. In a lot of my videos, I'll take questions that are asked frequently, and my viewers had asked me that question in many different ways. They wanted to know if I had done it, and there were people who had done it themselves who were questioning whether it was OK.
There was actually only one time that I nursed during sex. It was 3 months after my first baby was born. It was the first time [my ex and I] had been intimate since the baby was born, because the baby was literally attached me 24/7. The baby was sleeping. and if I happened to move or pull the nipple out of his mouth, he would wake up. If I put him down at any point, he’d flail his arms out and scream bloody murder, like I was murdering him. I think he had a traumatic birth experience, because I had an epidural and once my water broke there was poop, so I couldn’t hold him right after he was born. He was still traumatized so he literally wanted to be on me at all times. I wore him all the time, and he slept with me all the time, day and night. But I was also exhausted with not being able to put him down ever, not even when he was awake and happy.
To be honest, I didn’t want to have sex with my husband. It’s kinda why we got divorced. It was kind of like “OK, we haven’t had sex in months. I guess I’ll do it.” I latched the baby on while my husband gently had sex with me from behind. From the other emails I've gotten, it seems like that's the position that's most common [among couples who breastfeed during sex]: gently from behind. The baby was latched and sleeping, so he wasn’t actually breastfeeding... I don’t even know if he was getting any milk, but he was latched. It was one of those things that kind of just happened and it worked. But there was absolutely zero sexual energy toward the baby, who was sleeping.
For some women, [breastfeeding] is pleasurable, the same way that eating a delicious mango is pleasurable. I think a lot of women have shame admitting that breastfeeding can be pleasurable, but as long as your intention is positive, that’s fine.
I didn't really enjoy [breastfeeding during sex]. I haven't had any feelings in my nipples since I was 18, so there’s no stimulation with the sucking. I didn’t even know that breastfeeding could be pleasurable in any way, but I know that for some women, it is, the same way that eating a delicious mango is pleasurable. I think a lot of women have shame admitting that breastfeeding can be pleasurable, but as long as your intention is positive, that’s fine.
Did I anticipate the reaction? Yes and no. I’ve always gotten really positive and really negative feedback on my videos. It wasn’t a surprise. I tried to ignore the negative comments from people calling me a pedophile. I blocked people and deleted them. I see through why they call me that. You never hear happy people going around and putting other people down.
I know there are people who say that I am sexualizing breastfeeding. But I think [that point of view] goes hand in hand with the people who view breastfeeding as sexual. When it comes to breastfeeding, there's two sides of the spectrum: it’s sexual, it’s disgusting; and it's natural and normal. There are so many different paradigms and belief systems that are coming forward.
There are people deeming me a perpetrator. I am now aware that children do get molested by their mothers, but when I made the video, I honestly was completely unaware of it. I was like, “What are these people talking about?” But I'm friends with a therapist who has had clients come forward to say, “My mom used me during sex and continued to have sex with me until later ages.” It’s a real thing.
They’re your breasts. They can be sexual. They can be used during sexual play. I have nothing against that. It’s human nature. I think it’s beautiful.
I've heard of the Child Protective Services petition, but no, I haven’t heard from anyone from CPS. I think it's silly. There are children in abusive homes, and I know how CPS works and when they do need to intervene and when they don’t.
Now that I see in a little more depth what’s going on, I see it’s important for me to help those who don't have a voice, who are children, [and] to say there are times when the intention is not pure, and that’s not OK. It’s helping me understand why people are so upset, but it doesn't have anything to do with me. I teach my kids they can say no if an adult wants to touch them, because it's their body and they get to choose what to do with it.
I have had sex with the children in the room once. I’m completely single, but it's happened with my former partner, because I have a family bed and a family room. For me, it works. Other people choose to put their children in other rooms and feel the need to hide when they make love to their partner and that’s totally fine. Most parents who co-sleep or share beds go the same route as I do. It’s like the child isn’t even there. You’re not even thinking about your child. The child isn’t involved in the act. No mammals on the planet hide during sex. It’s the same as every other mammal. It’s the same thing as saying “Your roommate is having sex in the other room while you’re having sex with your partner.” Does that mean you’re all having sex together?”
My kids know [about the breastfeeding during sex controversy]. They’re there when I make the videos. They know that I make videos for YouTube. I say I want to help other women breastfeed. We’re very open and sex-positive. They’re growing up in Waldorf schools, and we're vegan. They already know how to talk to other people when they ask questions [about me], and they also know that if someone has something to say to them about what I do, it has nothing to do with them. I’ve taught them that since day one. There’s no worries behind that.
I don't have a problem with the baby being in the room while we've made love. If the baby is not involved directly, I think it’s great. Those loving, beautiful vibes — that’s great for the baby to be around.
As far as adult content goes, I do make my own amateur content. I've been doing adult videos on my own, for not that long. I started less than 6 months ago. I sell custom videos for anywhere from $30 to $200 or $400, depending on the request. I haven't done any videos with a partner yet. I also do pumping videos [for lactation fetishists, or people who have a fetish for breastfeeding women]. I don't think it sexualizes breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the actual physical act of breastfeeding. Lactation is a different thing. It's a fetish, and partners play around that topic and area without children. They’re your breasts. They can be sexual. They can be used during sexual play. I have nothing against that. It’s human nature. I think it’s beautiful.
It’s my main source of income now, and it's easy and fun for me. My children don't know. They're too young. But there's nothing with my children, ever. My children have nothing to do with that part of my life, and they never will.
I’m still all for breastfeeding during sex. I say if the intentions behind it are to make love with your partner and you have to take care of your baby during or in the middle, I’m all for it. They say it’s OK to have sex when you're pregnant and make love during labor, but when the baby is actually there, it’s not OK. I don't have a problem with the baby being in the room while we've made love. If the baby is not involved directly, I think it’s great. Those loving, beautiful vibes — that’s great for the baby to be around.
I would rather be who I am than change who I am for people to love me.
I’ve had three babies. I was married and divorced. As I grow older and understand more about myself, I’m more able to embrace my sexual side and I think that is awesome. I grew up very repressed in that area, because my family is very Mormon, and my parents were very religious, so sex is a touchy subject.
Right now, [my parents and I] are going through some stuff. I only wear tank tops and shorts and I breastfeed openly, and it’s a problem to them. I have to dress more modestly if I want to come to their home. Right now we’re not really talking. I don't think they know about this video — my dad is not online, but my mom is. But I would rather be who I am than change who I am for people to love me.
This interview has been condensed and edited.