It’s completely normal, and often expected, that a new mom’s libido takes a nose dive during the breastfeeding period. This is due to many factors, including recovery, exhaustion and hormonal loopty-loops.
During pregnancy, the body produces estrogen and progesterone, which are directly linked to sexual desire. During breastfeeding, these hormones decrease significantly, leading to vaginal dryness and a lack of interest in intimate intercourse.
1. Dry Vaginal Lining
Many new mothers feel that their sex drive has decreased while breastfeeding. This is very common and normal. Breastfeeding a baby day and night can be very draining, making sex less appealing. Women may also experience a rollercoaster of hormones during the postpartum period, which can have an effect on their libido.
For example, estrogen levels can decrease while breastfeeding, which can affect sexual desire. Women may also feel that sex is less pleasurable because their vaginal lining is thin and sensitive. Using a lubricant that is suitable for pregnancy and breastfeeding can decrease friction during intercourse and help with sex satisfaction.
Getting enough sleep and eating a well-balanced diet can also increase libido. Some women find that a fertility-friendly lubricant helps with sexual desire during the fertile window (the days leading up to and during ovulation). Working with a pelvic health physical therapist for muscle relaxation can decrease pain with intercourse.
2. Low Hormones
A breastfeeding woman’s hormones are impacted in a lot of ways. The good news is that once your baby starts eating solid foods, your libido will return.
During pregnancy, your body creates estrogen and progesterone that are directly linked to libido and sexual desire. However, once your baby is born, these levels drop significantly in order to support milk production.
Low oestrogen can make you feel dry, while lowered progesterone can affect your libido and ability to reach orgasm. Breastfeeding also causes the release of oxytocin, which can have an effect on sexual arousal for some women.
You might also be feeling insecure about your post-baby body, which can make you less interested in sex. But remember, you are beautiful – no matter what your body looks like! Just focus on a healthy diet and gentle exercise and you will see the results over time.
The demands of new motherhood and sleep deprivation can leave some women feeling less-than-romantic. Add in cultural views about breastfeeding that can leave women feeling edgy and insecure in their new bodies, and it’s no wonder libido dips for some new moms, says Brandi Jordan, social worker and lactation consultant.
Romper spoke to four lactation consultants who say that many women’s sex drives change after baby, and that can be even more true when you are breastfeeding. The hormone prolactin, which is cranked up to pump milk, can push down estrogen levels and dampen sexual desire. And if you are suffering from depression, the medications used to treat it can also reduce your sex drive. Some antidepressants can even lower sperm count and inhibit orgasms during sex. So it’s important to talk with your doctor if you notice any changes in your libido, whether you are breastfeeding or not.
Breastfeeding, hormone changes and a host of other factors can impact your interest in sex. If that’s the case, it’s normal.
Most women can resume sex four to six weeks after having a baby. However, between late-night feedings and dirty diapers, sex might be the last thing on your mind.
Luckily, there are several birth control methods that are safe to use while breastfeeding. Hormonal birth controls (such as the pill) reduce your risk of pregnancy and may help to increase libido by removing the stress of worrying about becoming pregnant.
Other methods, such as the copper IUD and the implant, are less likely to affect libido. However, they may come with side effects such as vaginal dryness and mood swings. Talk to your healthcare provider about which birth control method is right for you.
5. Lack of Lubrication
When you breastfeed, your lubrication is reduced. Nursing elevates prolactin which in turn lowers your estrogen levels and decreases your overall libido. This lack of lubrication can lead to discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse.
However, once baby is weaned and no longer needs to nurse on a regular basis, your hormones should start returning to their pre-pregnancy levels which should increase your libido. Breastfeeding also releases oxytocin, which can make you feel more affectionate and create feelings of pleasure for some women.
It’s totally normal for a woman’s libido to take a hit after childbirth, especially when breastfeeding is involved. But don’t give up on your sex life just yet. You just need to try out some different methods, work around the obstacles and find some natural libido enhancers. A great option is Chiavaye’s all-natural lubricant which contains no nasties and helps alleviate dryness, vaginal irritation and friction during sexual intercourse.
6. Nipple Stimulation
Many breastfeeding mothers find that they have little to no libido during this time. This can be caused by hormones, lack of sleep and other factors. However, it is important to remember that this is normal and will pass.
In addition, massaging the nipples can help stimulate oxytocin and lead to feelings of pleasure. This can be done by placing one hand over the areola and nipple and using the other hand to massage the breasts in circular motions. Try varying the amount of pressure as well. For example, pinching the nipples firmly to mimic baby suckling can create more intense sensations and increase pleasure.
Some new mothers might find that the nipple stimulation can lead to leaky breasts, so this method is not recommended for women who have recently had a cesarean section. However, lubricating the area with extra virgin olive oil can reduce the chance of leaky breasts.