Sex after delivery is usually a big change for most new mothers. Generally, most healthcare experts recommend waiting for about 4–6 weeks before having sex again. This gives enough time for you to heal following delivery or surgery. Now, it is not uncommon for new moms to have questions concerning sexual intimacy post-delivery. One of the most common ones being, “Can I have sex when I’m breastfeeding?”
If you’re a new mom who has wondered about this, the simple answer is:
It is safe for a breastfeeding mom to have sex, and having sex will not affect her milk supply or the quality of her milk.
This post gives more insight into the relationship between breastfeeding and sex. Read through to find out all you need to know about having sex while breastfeeding.
How does breastfeeding affect sex drive?
Here’s the deal: breastfeeding can affect your sex drive, and we’ll help you understand why and how.
After delivery, there is a rise in the secretion of the hormone prolactin, which helps to stimulate your breast to produce milk. Consequently, high prolactin levels push down estrogen levels, and this can dampen your sexual desire.
Also, increased prolactin may result in great pleasure from breastfeeding. This means that your emotional and physical intimacy needs may be met by breastfeeding your baby and as a result, decrease your desire for sex. Furthermore, the stress and altered sleep patterns experienced by new moms may also negatively impact sex drive.
If you think breastfeeding is affecting your sex drive, know that you’re not alone and it is a normal occurrence.
With time, your libido will go back to what it was before the arrival of your little one.
Is Breastfeeding a form of birth control?
Breastfeeding may be a natural form of birth control. This is generally known as the “lactation amenorrhea” method.
For this method to be effective, the following criteria must be met:
- Your baby must be less than 6 months old.
- You must exclusively breastfeed your baby every two to three hours. This means that you shouldn’t add formula or any solid food to breastfeeding. Remember, the higher the breastfeeding rate, the higher the rate of prolactin secretion.
- You must not have had any period since childbirth.
If all these criteria are met, breastfeeding can be about 98% effective at preventing pregnancy within the first 6 months of your baby’s delivery. Nonetheless, there’s still a 2% chance of getting pregnant while breastfeeding.
Sex and leaky breasts
There’s a possibility of having leaky breasts during intimacy.
However, it is important to note that this is not a problem and it is just a sign that good things are happening. In fact, you can receive proper guidance from your doctor or health practitioner about this.
You may release breastmilk when your nipples are rubbed, touched, or stimulated in any manner.
This is normal and common.
Sometimes, you may even leak breast milk during an orgasm. This is because milk letdown and the contractions felt during orgasm are triggered by the same hormone: oxytocin. There is nothing wrong with lactating during sex.
However, if you’d rather avoid this, you can try the following:
- Breastfeed or pump before having sex. This will reduce the amount of milk in your breast and reduce the risk of a leak during sex.
- Wear a proper bra that has nursing pads during sex.
Is there a link between breastfeeding and painful sex?
Many new moms have asked about vaginal dryness while breastfeeding. As explained earlier, your body produces less estrogen during lactation. Estrogen is the major hormone responsible for sexual arousal and natural vaginal lubrication. Therefore, it is not uncommon to experience vaginal dryness and increased vaginal tenderness while breastfeeding. This can result in painful sexual intercourse.
The following tips are helpful when dealing with vaginal dryness while breastfeeding:
- Stay hydrated because dehydration can cause the skin around the vagina to become dry.
- Use a quality water-based lubricant.
- Take your time with foreplay to ensure you’re properly stimulated before penetration.
Overall, it is best to be open and honest with your partner during this period in your life. Have honest conversations about sex and how you feel about it at every point in time.
Parenthood can come with a lot of challenges. From the moment you come home with your little one from the hospital, there will be a lot of changes, learning, adjustments, and so on. However, you don’t have to give up on yourself and neglect your needs.
Sex during breastfeeding? Of course, you’re allowed to.
There’s absolutely no harm in having sex while breastfeeding. As long as you’re ready to make adjustments to accommodate your sexual needs during this period. Breastfeeding can decrease your sexual desire or in other cases, increase your libido.
Whatever you may be experiencing, you can find ways to be intimate with your partner even in the presence of your little one. Honest communication with your partner is a great start to developing intimacy.