If you’re breastfeeding or are planning on doing so, you’ve probably read up on all the benefits for you baby, but you might not be so sure about how it will affect you and your sex life. So let’s take a look and how breastfeeding and sex fit together. You’re (quite literally) in for some thrills and spills!
Breastfeeding can lower your sex drive (but maybe also increase it)
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, sleepless nights, late-night feedings, changing dirty diapers and recovering from childbirth can all take a toll on your mind and body. Most moms experience a dip in their libido when a new baby comes along, but breastfeeding can take an extra hit on your sex drive.
In fact, a 2005 study found that breastfeeding women were more likely to delay resuming intercourse than non-breastfeeders.
How can breastfeeding decrease your libido?
- First of all, breastfeeding can lower your progesterone levels which in turn lowers your libido
- Secondly, lactation increases prolactin levels and decreases estrogen levels which may lead to decreased libido, less sexual satisfaction and dyspareunia (pain) during sexual intercourse.
- Thirdly, just like when you orgasm, oxytocin is released when you breastfeed meaning you may not feel the same need for sex, because you’re already getting that hit of feel good hormone when you’re nursing.
How can breastfeeding increase your libido?
The oxytocin that’s released when breastfeeding can cause sensations similar to those that you have when you orgasm in the form of intense uterine contractions. This can make arousal and sensual touching even more pleasurable for some women.
So who knows, you might find your desire and pleasure actually increases because of breastfeeding. We’re all different!
What to do about it
If you think breastfeeding is decreasing your libido, it’s important to know this is completely normal. Between hormonal changes and the lifestyle changes associated with a new baby in the family, your libido is likely to be affected. But this isn’t permanent. As you wean your baby off breast milk, your hormones should eventually stabilize and allow your sex drive to return to how it was in your pre-baby days.
And if you’re experiencing pain during sex, remember to use lube, lube and more lube! This will go a long way to solving any vaginal dryness and help you to enjoy more pleasure. And remember, if penetrative sex still doesn’t feel good, there are endless other ways to have fun with in bed.
You may release milk during sex
As we just saw, oxytocin is released both when you orgasm and when you breastfeed. This can cause milk to be released in both cases. Yep, that means you might inadvertently squirt milk when you’re having sex, especially if your partner, touches, rubs or sucks on your nipples.
What to do about it
This may not be a problem for you and some people even find squirting milk very erotic during sex, but if it bothers you, nursing or pumping before you have sex will mean that your breasts aren’t so full and reduce the risk of leaking. You could also wear a bra with nursing pads inside to absorb any milk.
You might not want your partner to touch your breasts
Breast and nipple play is a fantastic (and often overlooked) way to increase your sexual pleasure and can even result in nipplegasms for some women. You might have loved your breasts and nipples being stimulated before you started breastfeeding, but then find you no longer get as much sexual pleasure from them. That’s normal.
Newborns can eat 10 to 12 times in 24 hours – that’s a lot of skin-to-skin time! It’s normal then that you might feel “touched out” at the end of the day and have no desire for your partner to touch your breasts. You may also feel your nipples are simply too painful to be touched.
What to do about it
Whatever you do, don’t just grin and bear it. If it doesn’t feel good when your partner touches your breasts, or you just don’t want them to, tell them how you feel. You can explain that it doesn’t mean that your breasts are off limits forever, but for now, at least temporarily, they’re no longer available on the sex buffet.
The arrival of a baby is likely to shake up your routine and way of doing things, at least for a while. It can affect your sleep, your eating habits, body image, and sex life. And if you’re breastfeeding, it might affect you in some of the ways we looked at above.
But remember that these changes are only temporary and you won’t be breastfeeding forever. In the meantime, try to enjoy your baby as much as possible and know that with some adjustments you can enjoy a healthy and pleasurable sex life.
If you’d like to learn more about postpartum sex, make sure to listen to Emjoy’s Sex After Pregnancy audio collection which is full of tips about how to maintain a healthy and fulfilling sex life as a parent.