Up until the 6 week mark, you had an excuse for not having sex. The doctor said you couldn’t.
But once you get the go ahead by your OB/GYN, the next time hubby strokes your arm suggestively and makes googly eyes, you need to get a bit more creative with your excuses.
The thing is by this time, you haven’t had sex for at least 2 months. You used to jump each other every other day. What gives?
Breastfeeding decreases your sex drive
None of this is your fault. The negative effects of breastfeeding on your hormones are well known so you can easily blame it all on your hormones.
Between breastfeeding an ever hungry baby and learning how to navigate your new life, sex is probably the last thing on your mind.
I had no interest in sex whatsoever in the first few months of breastfeeding. Truth be told, I would have rather wash the dishes than have sex.
My flabby post-baby body felt foreign to me and my v*gina ached even though I delivered through Cesarean. My breasts felt like they were feed-bags that belonged to my baby daughter. Breastfeeding even made me gassy!
In short, I was all mom and no woman.
Breastfeeding mimics menopause
I didn’t know it at the time but breastfeeding actually mimics menopause in the way it affects your sex hormones.
In fact, a 2005 study found that moms who breastfed were more likely to delay resuming intercourse compared to moms who didn’t breastfeed. Luckily, any difference in sex drive between nursing moms and bottle-feeding moms disappear by the time your baby is 6 months old.
Believe it or not, some moms actually feel more attractive while breastfeeding. Alas, the opposite is true for most moms.
Sexual desire is complex but we are fighting an uphill battle because our hormones are against us.
Prolactin levels rise
Prolactin is the hormone responsible for milk production. After delivery, the level of prolactin in your body rises dramatically.
Prolactin creates an intense urge to see and hold your baby all the time. Sometimes, to the exclusion of your partner.
High prolactin levels also push your estrogen levels down. The relationship between these hormones maintain your breast milk supply and keep you from having your periods.
Estrogen levels fall
During pregnancy, your placenta secretes loads of estrogen. The moment the placenta is delivered, your estrogen levels fall drastically.
With low estrogen levels, it takes longer to get turned on and sometimes you don’t feel like having sex at all.
Low estrogen levels also cause vaginal dryness and painful sex.
Further reading: Is it safe to use KY while breastfeeding?
Oxytocin levels skyrocket
Oxytocin triggers milk let-down when your baby sucks.
It’s not called the love hormone for nothing. Everytime your baby feeds, the burst of oxytocin gives you a sense of well-being and contentment.
In fact, the fulfillment you get from breastfeeding can take away your need for sexual intimacy from your partner.
Low progesterone levels
The placenta is also responsible for the high levels of progesterone during pregnancy. After delivery, progesterone levels drop like a ton of bricks. This precipitous drop can leave a new mom feeling less resilient.
Low progesterone levels also contribute to suppression of ovulation, vaginal dryness and a pitiful sex drive.
Are hormonal fluctuations normal during breastfeeding?
Hormonal fluctuations is normal. For the first few months after the delivery, to ensure survival of the species, we have evolved in such a way that our hormones drive us to be fully consumed by our newborn.
Is my low libido normal?
Between hormonal changes and the stress of coping with a new baby, your libido may fall for a period. In time, even without doing anything to improve it, your sex drive should return to what it was before the arrival of your baby if it was purely due to hormonal fluctuations.
However, low sex drive can be a sign of a larger problem and should not be ignored. Other contributors to low sexual desire include fatigue, stress and poor body image.
Check out my article on How to get your sex drive back while breastfeeding.
To wrap up
Not only does breastfeeding have a significant impact on your hormones, it also affects your mental health and your body.
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