What The Parenting Books Don't Tell You: Tingly Breasts Edition
To really kick off this weekly column the right way, I’m going to overshare about my breasts. Again.
One of my favorite parts of Oliver’s babyhood was the breastfeeding. I was NOT one of those fortunate souls who experienced orgasms while breastfeeding, but what nursing my son did was give me permission to slow down and just BE with my child.
I am the kind of person who is always doing five things at once. For example, right now I’m typing this, but I’m also having a conversation with my boyfriend and half paying attention to “They Live,” which I’ve never seen and I’m enjoying immensely, and every so often I reach over and pet the cat, who is being super lazy on the ottoman.
When you are nursing a tiny baby, though, you are generally just sitting in one place until the baby finishes and/or falls asleep. (Out. Cold.) You are sitting and are kind of stuck there for the duration -- unless of course you are my friend F, a tall woman with long arms who I once witnessed holding her nursing baby in one arm while preparing dinner with the other. It was amazing.
Aside from the sitting down in one place for more than five minutes, one distinctive part of the breastfeeding experience for me was something called “let down.” This is the process whereby the milk starts a-flowing through your milk ducts. It normally kicks in a bit after the baby begins to suckle at the breast, and to me it always felt like a mild tingling followed by a distinct fullness in my breasts.
The most unusual part of let down for me was that it would sometimes occur when I wasn’t even nursing. In fact, sometimes I would experience it if I was, say, at the grocery store without Oliver, and I heard a baby cry. Boom. Tingly breasts. Of course, I was also one of those super-lactators, so sometimes I would start to leak a bit of milk, too.
None of that is so unusual. What might be is this: Sometimes the tingly thing still happens to me, eight years later.
Even though Oliver is eight years old and my nursing days are long gone, the sound of a crying newborn still triggers the feeling of let down, except of course, there is no milk there. It’s a phantom boob tingly feeling, I guess?
Whatever it is, it is probably one of the most nutso biological responses I’ve experienced, and it’s one that not many women talk about. At first I thought perhaps I had superboobs -- like two biologically superior heroes mounted on my chest.
And while I certainly think they are pretty special, I can confirm that I am not the only mutant. A former co-worker once said that she, too, had this same weird experience. And her kids were 18 and 22. So.
Tell me, am I completely out of my mind? Have any of you experienced this? And do you think my breasts could save the planet? I think so.
Somer is on Twitter but doesn’t really mention her breasts much, sorry: @somersherwood.