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Because female breasts and nipples are generally regarded as an important part of sexual activity in most cultures, it is not uncommon that couples may proceed from oral stimulation of the nipples to actual breastfeeding.
In its issue of March 13, 2005, the London weekly The Sunday Times gave a report of a scientific survey (composed of 1690 British men) revealing that in 25 to 33% of all couples, the male partner had suckled his wife's breasts.
Breastfeeding mothers have faced legal ramifications for nursing their children into toddlerhood or in public, or for photographing themselves while nursing.
Researcher Nikki Sullivan, in her book A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory, calls erotic lactation a manifestation of "Queer." She defines Queer as an ideology; that is, as a "sort of vague and indefinable set of practices and (political) positions that has the potential to challenge normative knowledges and identities." Drawing on a statement of David Halperin, she continues "since queer is a positionality rather than an identity in the humanist sense, it is not restricted to gays and lesbians but can be taken up by anyone who feels marginalised as a result of their sexual practices." The heteronormative profile of breastfeeding assumes certain norms: Any kind of sexual activity which includes the woman's milk.
Some women lose the ability to be aroused while breastfeeding, and thus would not find lactation with a sexual partner to be erotic.
This can be a result of physical reasons (soreness) or psychological reasons (conflicted about her breasts being used other than for an infant).
During the lactation period the partner starts to suckle on the female breast, and continues after the baby is weaned off.
Humans are the only primates whose female members have permanently enlarged breasts after the onset of puberty; the breasts of other primate species are enlarged only during pregnancy and nursing.In such cases, adult nursing has often caused lactation to continue until it was possible for the child to resume breastfeeding.Others may want to nurse an adopted child, so use an ANR to stimulate breast milk production before the adoption occurs.Successful ANRs depend on a stable and long-term relationship, as otherwise it is very difficult to maintain a steady milk flow.Couples may begin an ANR by transferring regular suckling from a child to a sexual partner (e.g. Such a relationship may form as an expression of close intimacy and mutual tenderness, and may even exist without sex.
According to the book Body parts: critical explorations in corporeality, adult nursing may occur when an "individual, usually a mother, may choose to continue lactating after weaning a child, so that she avoids the significant physical challenge that inducing lactation can entail." However, milk production can be "artificially" and intentionally induced in the absence of any pregnancy in the woman.