Updated: Jul 11
I am pretty confident that at some point in your life you will have had an unhealthy or negative relationship with your breasts.
It’s obvious. When the patriarchy seems to be able to dictate to women how, when, and what for the purpose of breasts are.
So I’m going to share my own personal relationship with my breasts.
When I was a teenager I remember waiting with much excitement about the arrival of my breasts. I would hear the boys at school talk about them in a way that made me feel I was missing out by not having particularly large breasts. In fact, it wasn’t until I went on the pill in my late teens that I started to be able to wear a proper bra.
The boys would seem to determine the attractiveness of a woman based on the size of her breasts - bigger was better - of course.
My worth felt linked to the size of them. When I was a teenager and would get the odd ‘consensual’ grope from a boyfriend I always felt worried or concerned about what they might say about them to the other boys. Or what they might think. Will they dump me? Are mine OK? Mine just don’t sit and be ‘round’ like the women on page 3… (For the non-UK people, there is a tabloid newspaper called ‘The Sun’ which had on page 3 a different woman every week, naked, except for skimpy knickers.) What about the colour of my nipples? And my nipple size, is it normal?
Growing up and watching films, I began to be more and more exposed to various different shapes and sizes of breasts, so I began to feel a little more comfortable with how they looked.
The issue I was starting to get was not liking my nipples being touched. I didn’t mind a gentle squeeze, or a caress of the breasts - although I wouldn’t have said it was enjoyable as such. However, I really disliked having my nipples touched. I particularly hated any form of tweaking or sucking or tugging or rubbing. Think nails down a blackboard! *grimace and heave emoticon*.
When I got pregnant with my eldest, I was living in Italy and the midwife suggested to all the ante-natal class to do breast and nipple massage to help prepare us for breastfeeding. I can’t remember the ‘reason’ now as they don’t even mention it in the UK were I gave birth to my second. I did the massage because that’s what I should do. But doing it was almost torturous. I would heave and shudder and do deep breaths, thinking of the positives of what I would be doing for my baby.
I’ll admit, I was pretty freaked out and concerned about how breastfeeding was going to go with this aversion. The baby came and much to my surprise, and delight (!), babies don’t hang onto the nipple when breastfeeding (yay!) so other than mastitis, blocked ducts and painful breasts (undiagnosed tongue tie), breastfeeding went well both for me and the baby.
Or did it?
Again my relationship with my breasts seemed to take another turn. With the ‘breastfeeding is the biological norm’ vs ‘fed is best’ wars, my breasts became another topic, talking point and area of debate for me, other mums and society at large. Living in ego and completely unable to relate to another human being’s experience, living in ‘black and white’, feeling threatened by an opinion or choice completely different to mine (pre self-healing journey of course), my breasts became a symbol. A symbol of what motherhood meant. Of how, due to the media, women’s bodies were sexualised and breasts had been stolen by the patriarchy (from poor babies and children) for their own pleasure. I decided my breasts were no longer, in my opinion, considered ‘sexual’. The feminist in me wanted to keep them sacred. I didn’t want my husband touching my breasts because it made me feel really uncomfortable being touched there. They aren’t for sexual pleasure, they feed babies and that’s their only purpose. Full stop. No need to discuss this. That’s my decision. My husband respected this and took the attention away from them.
Moving the clock forward to the course. During our self-transformation of trimester 1, we have been encouraged to pleasure ourselves. Not just from touching our clitoris. But by running our hands through our hair, by caressing our faces, running a feather down the arm, enjoying our legs, inside of the thighs… finding the pleasure throughout our body. All the body has nerve endings so potentially, pleasure can be enjoyed anywhere with the right touch.
I began to reconsider my relationship with my breasts.
We learnt breast massage and breathing techniques for use while massaging and caressing the breasts. Initially this felt so uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in the psychological sense, so like I was touching a forbidden part of my body. I had become so detached from them. Almost a type of disassociation from this part of my body. Breast massage helped me to reconnect to my breasts. To gently get to know each other better.
The game changer for me was learning about ‘blended pleasure’. This is, to briefly summarise, where you retrain your nervous system to learn to get pleasure in a new part of the body by stimulating a place where you easily find pleasure. So stimulating the clitoris (easy pleasure) while simultaneously building up to touching and caressing my… nipples!
How did it go?
*celebration and party popper emoticon*. Whoop!
It isn’t something that’s happened overnight but I can now have my nipples touched. And not just that, they can be licked and sucked and now… there is enjoyment there. It took time. It took patience - for both me and my husband. I thought it would be fun to work on this together. I had got him involved because I was concerned that it might be just my touch that I manage to rewire as ‘OK’. Which would have, of course, defeated the whole point of doing it. My objective had been to change my relationship with my breasts and create a new playground of pleasure for me and my husband. And I did. I achieved that.
I’m now currently working on being able to reach orgasm from breast and nipple stimulation. I believe it’s possible, other women on my course have achieved it. But don’t worry, I’m taking it slow. There’s no pressure to ‘achieve’. No pressure of ‘expectations’. No pressure to ‘perform’.
The fun is in the journey - not just the destination!
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at email@example.com.