Let’s talk about Sex and Breastfeeding

Sex and intimacy can be different after having a baby, especially when you are breastfeeding. Our bodies can react differently to touch and pleasure during breastfeeding. This can be unexpected and often a cause of worry. But it is very common and normal to feel touched out and not all sexy when breastfeeding.

With leaking boobs, postnatal bodies and worries our vagina will never be the same is it any wonder you’re not in the mood!

Finding time for intimacy

With a new baby finding time for intimacy with your partner can be a challenge. You may find you have a lower sex drive than before your baby was born. Your vagina may feel dry and uncomfortable, and you may feel anxious about intercourse.

You may find you have a lower sex drive than before your baby was born.

When your baby is born the hormone progesterone drops and prolactin rises. These hormonal changes cause your milk to come in. High prolactin inhibits the production of oestrogen. Low oestrogen levels combined with low progesterone levels are the cause for reduced libido and vaginal dryness.

How oestrogen plays a role

Oestrogen plays a large role in both arousal and lubrication. Low oestrogen causes similar symptoms to the menopause, this is also why lots of people have night sweats post-partum. Due to this hormonal shift most people have a reduced libido while breastfeeding or certainly until your period returns.

The return of your period means higher oestrogen levels as oestrogen is required for ovulation among other things.

Oestrogen plays a large role in both arousal and lubrication.

Oxytocin, the love hormone

It is common to not want your partner to touch your breasts. This may come as a surprise. For many people the breasts are not a source of sexual pleasure during breastfeeding. Oxytocin is another well-known hormone of lactation. Known as the love hormone, oxytocin is released when your baby suckles, and it causes the milk to flow (let down).

Oxytocin is also released during orgasm and arousal; therefore orgasm/arousal can cause a let-down. Milk can also leak if your partner is caressing, stroking, or sucking your nipples or breasts. This can come as a surprise to many couples, but it is completely normal and nothing to worry about.

sex and breastfeeding

How to navigate sex during breastfeeding

  1. Firstly, talk to your partner. Explain how you are feeling. If it is uncomfortable for you to have your partner touching your nipples or breasts talk to them about it. For many people they are ok with their breasts being touched but not their nipples. If you feel that you would rather not have your breasts touched, you could wear a bra during sex with breast pads in case of leaking.
  2. Using a water-based lubrication can really help with vaginal dryness. This will make intercourse more comfortable and enjoyable for you. You can use lube on yourself and your partner.
  3. Taking things really slow with lots of gentle foreplay can help with arousal, being aware it may take a little longer to become aroused than before your baby arrived. Using lube for foreplay is helpful too.
  4. Creating intimacy by kissing, cuddling, or showering together can help you and your partner connect. It can be difficult to find that connection at times. If you don’t feel ready for sex, you can talk to your partner about making time for kissing and cuddling without sex being the end result. This can sometimes ease the internal pressure you may feel to resume intercourse.
  5. Making time for each other as often as possible, asking friends or family to take the baby for a walk even for 30mins. This time can be used to cuddle and lie together. This kind of touch and connection can help to recreate intimacy. 

Some people find they have an increased libido during breastfeeding, this is normal too. Everyone’s experience is unique, just as every relationship is unique. 

Try to be honest with each other about how you feel and what you want.

Remembering that if it feels different now it won’t always be that way. Try to be honest with each other about how you feel and what you want. It can be difficult for your partner too; therefore communication is so important. Rediscovering each other may take time.

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