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CHILDHOOD SEXUALITY: ENCOUNTERS. SUCKING RELATIONSHIP

Infants also can be divided into two categories based on the extent to which they seek close personal contacts—noncuddlers and cuddlers. Noncuddlers reach this developmental stage somewhat later than do cuddlers. Noncuddlers show displeasure at being restricted and contained from the early weeks, initially through restlessness. At nine or ten months, when they can crawl or walk away, resistance to handling becomes still more pronounced. This does not mean the noncuddlers show a lack of orientation toward the mother; she is still treated as a “haven of safety” and when frightened, the noncuddler seeks her proximity. Their means of establishing proximity is, however, different from that of cuddlers. Instead of the close physical contact which other infants seek, the noncuddler either makes visual contact with its mother, establishes a physical contact such as holding onto her skirt, or hides his or her face against her knee. Apparently it is not contact per se that is avoided by noncuddlers but the restriction of movement involved in cuddling and holding. In motor development the noncuddlers are ahead of the cuddlers, reaching such milestones as the ability to sit unsupported, to stand holding on, and to crawl, considerably sooner than the cuddlers.

Resistance to close physical contact does not appear to be primarily a social phenomenon but an expression of an innate, more general aspect of the infant’s personality. Nor is the noncuddling pattern bad; it is not a deterrent to development.

Since the encounters with mother in the normal course of infant-mother relations are numberless and infinitely varied, each requires a different adaptive response. Self-stimulation in the form of thumb-sucking has been observed prenatally. The first somato-sensory encounter of the newborn infant and mother is the birth experience itself. Male babies are sometimes born with erections; whether this is due to internal stimulation or the birth experience itself has not been determined. It is reasonable to assume that it is in part due to the tactile stimulation of the birth experience. It is now understood that although the birth experience may result in some pain for both mother and infant, some mothers have reported erotic experience during the delivery, including sexual climax.

The major tactile and potentially erotic encounter between infant and mother is the sucking relationship. The mechanisms of sucking are simple. The infant is born with a sucking reflex which is stimulated by the touch of an object on the cheek or lips. The infant turns its head toward the object (in this case the nipple), opens its lips, and starts to suck when the nipple is placed in the mouth. Though sucking is a reflex action, practice helps. As the control of neck muscles improves, the infant becomes more and more efficient at getting into place and finding the nipple.

The sucking encounter is a cooperative venture of infant and mother. From the infant’s side, behavior problems can occur because of inefficient sucking, apparent dislike of nursing, and lack of responsiveness. The infant can be fickle and demanding. The situation has to be “right” or the infant may refuse to participate. Robinson observed that many infants whose mothers fed them strictly by the clock refused “point-blank” to take the breast after the age of three months and had to be bottle-fed. The breast was not refused if the mother was “easy-going” and fed her infant by “instinct” rather than by the clock. On the other hand, scheduling infrequent feedings causes the breast to become too full, so that when nursing begins the milk may spurt out and choke the infant. This interference with the infant’s breathing, although only temporary, may instill fear or ambivalence toward the nursing process. Ejection-reflex failures also are related to the infant’s dislike of breast feeding, since it responds to a consistent supply of milk. Breast feeding is significantly more successful when the amount of milk obtained from one feeding to another does not fluctuate. Active, satisfied infants establish the sucking reflex and rhythm quickly and seek the nipple when it is withdrawn. The satisfaction received is likely to increase the infant’s desire to suckle its mother frequently and fully, thus stimulating the secretion of milk. The reaction of older infants is even more pronounced than that of newborn infants. The total body may show alertness and motion—rhythmic motions of hands, fingers, feet, and toes along with the rhythm of sucking. After feeding, there is a relaxation that has been compared to the relaxation characteristic of the conclusion of satisfactory sexual response.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 9:01 am and is filed under Men's Health-Erectile Dysfunction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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