- The connection between breastfeeding and sexual function
- Effects of breastfeeding on sex hormones
- Depression, stress and anxiety during breastfeeding
- Poor body image
- Utter exhaustion
- It physically hurts to have sex
- Physically touched out
- Unresolved resentment
- Should I have sex with my partner even though I have low sex drive?
- When will I notice an increase in sex drive?
- To wrap up
Do you feel like your sex drive has dropped to almost nothing while you are nursing your baby? If so, you’re not alone.
I struggled with my lack of interest in sex for more than a year after the birth of each of my kids.
I wanted to. At times, we sneaked special cuddles while my babies slept. But it was just so hard for me to get “turned on” on demand.
I think all new mothers struggle with this. It’s sort of like you become a mom and you stop being a woman. You have to retrain yourself to remember that your body is still the same one that got you pregnant and gave birth to your children. It’s still the same body that turned you on for years before you had kids.
And now that your “baby factory” is running at full capacity, it can be hard to get your old self (the one who wants sex) back. Especially if you are experiencing postpartum depression. Or if you are sleep deprived because you are still up with the baby every night.
It takes time. Lots of time.
I started by taking care of myself. When I started reconnecting to myself again, it was a domino effect. It just flowed from there. And the rest is history.
There are many reasons why you may lose your sex drive when breastfeeding. We’ll take a look at why your libido dips and how to restore your interest in sex again.
The connection between breastfeeding and sexual function
Not too many moms and dads admit to it but the birth of a baby and breastfeeding significantly affects your sex life. For a small minority, it gives it a boost. For the rest of us plebs, our sex drive plummets.
Breastfeeding isn’t the sole cause of low libido but studies have found that nursing mothers are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction that mothers who use formula.
Why does this happen and what to do about it? Let’s dive in:
Effects of breastfeeding on sex hormones
Most new mothers report a dramatic drop in their sex drive. But, there is good reason for this. When you are nursing your baby, your body is flooded with hormones that make you feel emotionally blunted, physically exhausted and totally uninterested in having sex.
After you give birth, your levels of the hormone prolactin will spike so your body starts producing breastmilk. Unfortunately, prolactin is also suppresses your sex drive.
When you breastfeed, your progesterone and estrogen levels plummet to suppress ovulation. This suppresses your sex drive even further.
Mother nature intended it this way so you don’t get pregnant too soon. It’s all about ensuring the survival of your beautiful baby which is all good and fine but what about you?!
When will I notice an increase in libido/sex drive?
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about your hormones while you’re breastfeeding.
With time, your ovaries will kick up again. When this happens depends mainly on how often you’re breastfeeding. The less you breastfeed (if your baby is drinking formula or weaning to solids), the more likely your estrogen levels will increase and you’ll start ovulating again.
As soon as this happens, you will notice you’re more frisky around ovulation time.
If it only depended on hormones, your sex drive should fully return when your baby is weaned.
But it’s never that simple. Loads of other factors affect your libido and sex drive.
Fortunately, many of these are in your control to fix.
Depression, stress and anxiety during breastfeeding
Your mood can dramatically impact your sex drive. If you are feeling down, you may find it hard to get “turned on” even if your hormone levels are back to normal.
Post-partum depression can affect your sex drive, self-esteem and even make you doubt your parenting abilities.
What’s the solution?
To restore your interest in sex, you must first restore your emotional and mental health.
Then, and only then, will you be able to think about having sex again with any degree of enthusiasm. But how do you go about restoring your emotional and mental health so you can have more exciting sex?
The answer is simple but it’s not easy.
Take time out for yourself. You will need to reconnect the woman in you to get back your zest for sex and life in general.
Poor body image
Many new mothers feel a sense of unease about their body while breastfeeding and it goes beyond feeling uncomfortable with the occasional lopsided boob or leaking. Body dissatisfaction arises from how we view our own bodies as mothers and how we see ourselves in relation to other mothers.
You probably don’t feel like your old self and feel that you have less to offer. Unfortunately we also compare ourselves to new moms and celebs who can still have a healthy lifestyle and enjoy time with their newborn.
But there is hope for us regular moms who want to improve our body image while breastfeeding.
What’s the solution?
The first step is to know that your body is not the problem. The problem is society’s unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of what a woman’s body should look like. If you’re feeling self-conscious about your body after delivery while breastfeeding, it might be helpful to remind yourself that this is a natural process that all women go through.
Keep a positive mental attitude. Don’t compare yourself to other mothers. You are doing the best you can under the circumstances. Comparing yourself to others will only lead to feelings of inferiority.
If you have excess pregnancy weight, losing the extra pounds is a difficult process for many new moms. The reasons for this are wide-ranging and can include a lack of time to exercise and an unhealthy diet.
Fret not! Breastfeeding itself helps with weight loss. With a few small adjustments like cutting down on sugary treats and drinks and going for a walk with bub in the mornings, you may find yourself slowly going back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
When you have a new baby, it’s hard to get any sleep at all. Your baby needs to be fed, changed, burped, played with and so on. It’s like you are a one-man-army trying to keep your baby happy and healthy.
What’s the solution?
Ask for help.
As hard as it is for you to let go and trust someone else with your precious bundle, you need to accept that you can’t do it alone.
Get a babysitter or ask a close friend or relative to spend the night with your baby so you and your spouse can get a little “me time”. Go to bed early. Tomorrow will be here before you know it and you’ll feel a lot better for it.
It physically hurts to have sex
Low estrogen can cause vaginal dryness. Even if you feel like having sex or want to connect with your partner, it can make sex less enjoyable and downright painful sometimes.
This is because vaginal dryness makes it difficult for your vagina to lubricate enough to be pleasurable for both of you.
What’s the solution?
Lubricants! Lubricants are extremely important. When your vagina is too dry, it becomes difficult (if not impossible) for your to have an orgasm. There goes your motivation to have sex.
Talk to your partner and ask him to go slow. Spend more time on fore-play to get things going. Kissing, touching, oral sex and a nice massage will all help to get your juices going.
Physically touched out
Many new moms have skin contact with their baby more or less all the time.
Cuddling and breastfeeding our baby 8-12 times a day is obviously not the same as having sex but it fills our intimacy bucket. Feeling touched out is a real thing.
Often, by the time hubby gets home from work, you can’t wait to throw the baby at him to spend some time alone and untouched.
What’s the solution?
When you feel the need for physical touch, choose to hug your partner instead of your baby.
When my husband and I started hugging and holding hands again, we automatically felt closer.
Ever felt like your partner isn’t doing enough? This increases 10 fold with a newborn in the house.
What more parents don’t realize is that there is so much to do that both are actually doing 110% of what needs to be done.
This resentment can build up over time and color your perceptions of your partner. And if you’re resentful towards him, the last thing you want is to be intimate with him.
What’s the solution?
Maybe your partner really isn’t doing enough. Sit him down and talk to him about what you need help with.
But before that, open your eyes and notice what he’s actually doing and how much he is trying. You might be surprised.
Remember that he’s probably just as exhausted as you are and trying hard to support you the way he knows how.
Should I have sex with my partner even though I have low sex drive?
Low libido in any relationship is a sensitive subject.
You might not feel up to sex but feel guilty about saying no to your partner. You shouldn’t. If you don’t want to have sex, don’t.
Never feel that you were forced or pressured into having sex.
However, it’s important to have an honest discussion with your partner. Let him (or her) know that loss of interest in sex is normal when you’re breastfeeding and it has nothing to do with how attracted you are to them.
But not having sex doesn’t mean no intimacy. It’s important to keep nurturing your relationship even with a newborn in the house.
You could try cuddles, a sensual massage or taking a bath or shower together. Spending time chatting and laughing can also do wonders for your psych.
Before you know it, you might find that you’re in the mood for more after all.
If you or your partner are struggling with trying to deal with this issue on your own, you can seek outside help from a sex therapist or relationship counselor.
When will I notice an increase in sex drive?
I’ve found a definite change at about the 6 month mark. My baby is sleeping longer in the night, he’s not needing as much carrying and cuddling.
My post-partum hormones are not playing havoc anymore and we’ve had time to adjust.
Unfortunately, if you’re still breastfeeding and your low sex drive is mainly caused by low sex hormones, you’ll only start feeling more interested in sex after breastfeeding is weaned.
To wrap up
While there is not much you can do about the post-partum and breastfeeding hormonal effects, there are lots you can do about other factors contributing to your loss of sex drive.
Above all, remember to give yourself a break. You’ve just a baby and your body is making precious breastmilk! You’re doing enough.
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