NY Times BFing Story from a Man: Posted in MC
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Breastfeeding and Sex: Is Latching On a Turn-Off?By JAMES BRALY
breastfeeding, the current scientific thinking goes, offers significant
health benefits for the child, and probably for the mother. But what
about for the father? Is what’s good for the gosling and the goose, also
good for the gander? And why does it matter?
I know, most women
think their breasts are theirs. I’ve been hearing this since I was a
toddler being cautioned, “Don’t touch!” But most guys just want to
touch. Most girls, thank God, eventually make some guys lucky. One thing
leads to another. And here we are, discussing the consequences of a
touch too much: children. So to everyone chanting “My Body! My Choice!” I
say, “Your Body! Our Nookie!” We are in this together, women and
children, men — and breasts.
So any conclusions about extended
breast-feeding must consider the impact on the whole family. And I would
argue, based both on anecdotal evidence and personal experience, that
the impact on the man in the family, eventually, is negative. A recent
(if highly dubious) study of Brooklyn families linked helicopter mothering with philandering.
The argument: a mother who hovers over her little prince or princess
too long leaves the former king of the castle feeling increasingly
powerless, and likelier to seek a queen on the side.
Other men —
me, for example — might be driven to engage in something even worse:
sexless fidelity. Mine crystallized in Central Park one evening, while
watching my wife sit under a tree with my older son, a
five-and-a-half-year-old young man with a full set of teeth and chores,
stretched out to roughly the size of a foal, suckling. By the time they
strolled back to me and my already-nursed toddler son on the picnic
blanket, I had lost my appetite — and not just for the smoked salmon.
There are some things in life most men cannot share with first-graders,
and two of them used to be called breasts. Now, my first grader called
them boobalies, and history is written by the victors.
complicating factor for me was, I loved my children. And the most
challenging part of love, for me, is empathy. Seeing my wife’s breasts
through my boys’ eyes…given the choice, I knew I’d do what they were
doing. Before they came along, I did. Which at that heartbreaking moment
made it impossible not to support their mother’s choice to breastfeed —
as their father. As their mother’s husband, however, I was dry-heaving —
and bile is not an aphrodisiac.
Lest you think sex is a private
matter, I would argue that the decline of a couple’s sex life can have
significant social consequences. A man’s loss of appetite for his
companion can undermine his partnership, his family and ultimately the
society of families. Even the environment takes a hit: suddenly, the
divorcing couple needs a second house, an extra car, another set of
Ziploc lunch bags off-gassing plastic fumes into the ozone, and on and
To those of you who believe breast-feeding a child who can
blow out all five of his birthday candles is a totally natural behavior
to be regulated only by the mother without considering the effects on
the father, I would ask, should sex, a totally natural behavior, be
regulated only by the father without considering the effects on the
mother? For what man in a committed relationship has not considered
having sex with someone other than his breast-feeding partner? Someone
he knows or — if he’s a sports star or a politician — a waitress at the
diner or a videographer who tells him he’s hot. Considering such
liaisons is biology for most men. Considering breast-feeding a toddler
may be biology for increasing numbers of women.
But a family man
who wants to keep his family knows to say no. The positive effects of a
sexual encounter on an otherwise monogamous man are outweighed by the
negative effects on his companion, and consequently on them. Similarly,
the positive effects of extended breast-feeding should be considered in
light of the negative effects on the marriage. In other words, sex and
its consequences are a family affair.
So to all nursing moms,
except perhaps those who used a lab technician, I say that the
foundation of the parent-child bond is the parent-parent bond. Unlike
the baby chicken or the fertilized egg conundrum, partnership precedes
parenthood. That’s how you got into this position to begin with: by
attracting a man who liked what he saw, and wanted to see more of what
even the scientists researching extended breast-feeding call mammaries,
From the new york times, published yesterday.