Intimacy and the Breastfeeding Mother
Navigating the waters of intimacy after having children can be difficult. This can be especially true if you're a breastfeeding mother. There are many emotions going on when it comes to our bodies and breasts postpartum - they can feel like they belong to the baby, not to us. This thinking may be why some women are hesitant to share their body with their partner. The feelings make discussing this topic uncomfortable. Is this a topic for our OB, lactation consultant, or our mom friends? It can be tough to find someone that won't judge us and will provide us with useful and honest information? Sit back and grab a glass of your favorite beverage, lets have a woman to woman chat about sex while breastfeeding.
Your sex drive could be non-existent
It's common for many new mothers not to have a desire to have sex. Crying babies, lack of sleep, adjusting to life with a new baby, and hormonal shifts can make sex fall off your to do list. Prolactin, the hormone that stimulates the mammary glands to make milk, is also known for reducing sex drive. Does your partner mentioning sex make you laugh out of sheer absurdity? You're not alone.
Your breasts may be off limits
Many nursing mamas report feeling "touched out" from the constant feeds and may not want their breasts involved in any kind of sexual activity. It's important to be clear with your preferences when speaking to your partner. A caress can quickly kill desire and put an end to the romance. In addition to feeling touched out, some women have trouble reconciling that their breasts can be sensual and functional. If you prefer your breasts not be touched, you are not alone. It's not a weird or unusual way to feel while breastfeeding. On the other hand...
It could be all about your breasts
Some women want just as much breast play during sex as they desired before children or breastfeeding. Women have reported that breastfeeding makes them feel more feminine and womanly due to larger breasts. Different strokes for different folks, literally. If this is you, then get it, girl!
Lubricant is your friend
Many nursing mothers report vaginal dryness and little to no cervical mucus. This is due to low levels of estrogen. Even if you want to have sex with your partner, the dryness can make it uncomfortable. A good personal lubricant will help, as will taking your time, and letting your partner know how it feels. If you think you have enough lube, add a little more. Communication and lubricant are key!
You can have letdown during orgasm
This is a big one that often surprises many couples. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for milk ejection reflex or letdown. It is also the hormone that is released during an orgasm. Breastfeeding mamas report milk ejection reflex at orgasm, which can be embarrassing or uncomfortable for the mama or her partner. If reading this section made you cringe, you can leave your bra on during sex to prevent an accidental spraying.
Once you've gotten clearance from your health care provider and have figured out birth control, remember to move at your own pace. Communicate your needs to your partner and be sure that he or she is communicating their needs with you. Finding alternate ways to connect, such as massage or doing an activity together, may be what you need until you are ready to connect with sex. Remember that intimacy can be so much more than intercourse. You may have to get creative or plan ahead for intimacy, but the extra time and work is worth it.
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