Some women find their libidos significantly change while breastfeeding: many women experience heightened sexual desire, while others crave less sex. No matter how you feel about sex while breastfeeding, it's important to keep communicating your thoughts and feelings with your partner to maintain a healthy relationship.
If sex is uncomfortable for you during the breastfeeding months, try these tips:
- Try other sexual positions. If you find your breasts are sore or you have sudden leakage if your breasts are touched, you may want to consider alternatives to the missionary position. Woman on top, spooning, and hands-and-knees positions may be more comfortable.
- Avoid having your breasts fondled. If your breasts are sore or you're worried about sudden leaking, talk to your partner about not touching your breasts during sex or foreplay.
- Consider wearing a bra with nursing pads in place. Oxytocin is the hormone that helps control your milk ejection reflex. Oxytocin is released during female orgasm, meaning that you may leak milk during sex. Sometimes this leakage is quite sudden, and may be a lot of milk. If you're worried about surprising your partner or messing up your sheets, consider wearing a bra with nursing pads.
- Use a lubricant. With your body busy making breast milk, you may experience a shortage of vaginal lubrication. A water based lubricant should ease any discomfort for you and your partner.
- Be patient. This is critical. Many women feel 'touched out' when nursing every couple of hours. You may not want to have sex, or might be too exhausted and overwhelmed to think about sex after the birth of your baby. Communicate with your partner; many men express affection and comfort through sex. Let your partner know how you're feeling and find other special ways to convey how important he is to you.
- Consider using contraception or natural family planning. It's a good idea to try not to get pregnant for about a year after you deliver. Your body needs a chance to recover from pregnancy, and you need some time to enjoy your baby before occupying yourself with another pregnancy. You may have heard that breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive. While it is true that breastfeeding can help prevent pregnancy, this form of birth control is unpredictable and has high failure rates. Consider using a condom or another barrier method. If you don't want to go on the pill, talk to your care provider about using a light hormone birth control. If you want to use a natural contraceptive technique, conduct some research on how to determine when you start and finish ovulating.
- Wait around six weeks after you deliver to have sex. This is important for a few reasons. First, the perineum (vaginal area) needs time to heal from any stitches, tearing, or soreness resulting from delivery. If you have sex too soon, you could damage your perineum, causing infection and further damage to this sensitive area.
Second, when the placenta separates from your uterus, it leaves an 'open wound' inside your uterus. This wound is no cause for concern (a great deal of your postpartum bleeding comes from this wound), but your body needs time to recover and heal. For this reason, it's important to avoid douching, sex, tampons and menstrual cups for about six weeks after you deliver. Your goal is to introduce nothing that can cause an infection. However, some care providers will waive the six-week minimum; if you experience strong sexual desire before the six weeks expire, check with your care provider.
Knowing how to have sex while breastfeeding will allow you and your partner to continue your healthy relationship.