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Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011

Is Breast Feeding Affected By Nipple Clamps?

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My wife would like to try the nipple pinchers that she uses on me. We are worried that they may affect future breast-feeding.

For an answer to this question, I turned to Madison Young, a fabulous kinky artist-director-actress and a new mom (check out the website for her gallery, Femina Potens, and her not-safe-for-work Madison Bound site). Not only is Madison very knowledgeable about safe kinky play, but she's also focusing a lot these days on the impact that pregnancy and parenting have on sexuality.

Madison responds, "I'd like to preface this by letting you know I am not a lactation specialist, nor am I a doctor or certified health care professional. However, I am a very kinky submissive masochist who loves nipple play and recently gave birth to a budding young feminist.

"Is your wife currently pregnant or are you planning on trying to conceive in the near future? Also, what type of nipple clamps are you interested in using? It's always nice to have a variety of different clamps that apply a varying amount of pressure. This comes in handy if your wife is pregnant, as her nipples and breasts will vary in sensitivity during her pregnancy.

"If you are interested in playing with tweezer-style nipple clamps, these will offer a very light and safe pressure that could be enjoyable and safe throughout her pregnancy. These wouldn't create any more pressure on milk ducts, glands or nerves than fingers or mouths. The key thing to emphasize and be aware of during pregnancy regarding sensation and BDSM play is continual communication. Just because your partner enjoyed a spanking or nipple clamps one minute doesn't mean that she is comfortable with it the next. With bodies full of hormones and completely morphing in preparation for birthing a child, there tends to be negotiating throughout a scene, not just pre-scene.

"Although prior to pregnancy, I enjoyed heavy sensation play with my breasts and nipples, in my first trimester I barely wanted them touched at all due to increased sensitivity and pain. Entering into my second trimester, breast play became extremely enjoyable and included clamps, bondage (although not strict rope bondage), massage and touch. Into the third trimester, I continued my enjoyment of touch and massage but refrained from breast bondage and clamps, although I feel that tweezer clamps would have been fine if I had wanted to use them.

"I've been breast-feeding my daughter for the past six months with no problems. I'm not engaging in breast bondage, impact play to my breasts or nipple clamps while I'm lactating. Now that I'm lactating, pressure (even from underwire bras) on the milk ducts can slow down the release of milk.

"[Here are a few] things to keep in mind when playing with breasts that may be sharing double duty as both food source and erogenous pleasure zone. If there is damage to the nerves in your partner's nipples, this could decrease feeling in the nipple area and affect the "let-down" response that releases milk. So I wouldn't recommend clover clamps in the third trimester. If engaging in very heavy breast play, it may be possible to bruise the breast tissue. Repeated bruising of the breasts could potentially cause damage to the tissue and milk ducts, affecting the amount of milk made by your partner's breasts. With that said, there are plenty of women who have been able to breast-feed their children even after having implants or breast reduction surgery.

"I highly recommend finding an OB-GYN or midwife who is kink-friendly. I had a kink-friendly doula and OB-GYN at my disposal during my pregnancy, and it was incredibly valuable to have a professional that I could go to with questions about kinky play and my body during pregnancy.

"Check out Kink Aware Professionals for a doctor near you. Other online resources include FetLife's "kinky and pregnant" forums and my blog, sexymamasocialclub.com. I'm also currently working with several health care professionals to compile a guide to kinky sex and pregnancy titled The Adventurous Couple's Guide to Sex & Pregnancy."

I also asked Madison to share what other new projects she's been working on since the birth of her baby. Last year, Madison directed the film Pregnant with Desire, giving us a taste of interesting things to come!

Says Madison, "Motherhood is the greatest adventure and joy that I have yet to find. I love my daughter and I'm enjoying being there for her as she continues to grow. Work hasn't slowed down as I continue to forge forward in the world of art and sex.

"I'm currently working with a group of artists and illustrators on a children's book titled My Mommy Is a Love Artist, which celebrates difference and the power of love. I'm exhibiting artwork at the Michelle O'Connor Gallery (presented by Femina Potens) on the topic of queer family in the group show "Building Our Own White Picket Fences." I'm working on a book based on my latest art exhibit, "Becoming MILF," which will feature nonfiction stories from sex workers on their journey into motherhood. I recently launched a network of feminist porn websites and have three films scheduled for completion before the end of the year: Sex and Coffee, Pancakes and Perversions, and James and Madison: A Kinky Love Story."

Clearly, parenthood has given Madison more energy than ever for new, sexy art. Perhaps she should have starred in I Don't Know How She Does It instead of Sarah Jessica Parker. We hope to have Madison back at the store to lead one of her dynamic workshops sometime next year; keep an eye out for details!

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.


Laura Anne Stuart has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side.