Why Does Holding Your Own Boobs Feel So Comforting?
Anyone who has or has had breasts will know this feeling — of sneaking a hand underneath their shirt to cup one or both breasts, not for sexual stimulation or breastfeeding, but just to feel the warmth and softness of breast tissue for one simple, pure purpose — relaxation.
Under Covid19 lockdown, we’re all roaming around in isolation, bra-less, and in severe need of comfort. And so, isolation forces us to consider: why are boob cuddles such a universal phenomenon, and why do they feel so good?
Stimulating, caressing or simply holding breasts sends nerve signals to the brain, which trigger the release of the ‘cuddle hormone’ called oxytocin, a neurochemical secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland in the brain. Oxytocin fosters social bonding and comfort, as seen between mothers and infants during breastfeeding, or partners during sexual intimacy — both of which involve breast stimulation and caressing that triggers the hormone. A similar thing happens during self-snuggling, or boob cuddling, which leads to the release of the feel-good hormone, increasing positive emotions, warmth and comfort, clinical psychologist Meghan Jablonski, tells Cosmopolitan.
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Research also shows humans are drawn to body warmth — both their own and of others — as it increases the feeling of psychological warmth, of trust and joy. The ever-presence of breasts, the curvature of which perfectly fits the contours of a relaxed palm, and their proximity to the comforting, regular thumping of a heart, makes breasts the go-to place for some R&R.
Most of what we know of breast-touching and its role in interpersonal relationships can be extrapolated to our own interactions with our breasts, a practice all-the-more necessary under lockdown, when most of us are trying to find some semblance of comfort in mandatory self-reliance. Now, with the freedom of work-from-home, and the glory of a bra-less existence, boob cuddles have never been more accessible. We’ve earned it.