Giving Birth, Breastfeeding and Sex: Exploring Intimacy as a New Mum
Intimacy can be a different experience for every mum and her partner after giving birth. Perhaps you can’t wait to be intimate again with your partner.
Maybe the thought of sex makes you anxious. Or, maybe it’s the last thing on your mind! Regardless of how you feel, your body is still undergoing changes and all of these feelings are normal...
Understanding Your Hormones
After birthing your baby, your pregnancy hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, fall, causing oxytocin and prolactin to increase. This change in hormones can have an impact on your body and your feelings towards intercourse.
It’s possible that breastfeeding may not affect your libido at all. However, for some, it can.
Some women find they have an increased desire for intercourse – this is normal! Your surging hormones can make touch more sensual and pleasurable.
The opposite can happen too. You may feel anxious or overwhelmed at the thought of sex, or fear that it may be painful.
Either way, listen to your body and take your time, your body has undergone great changes and you are learning and adapting to life as a new mum as well as caring for a little one.
How Long Do I Have to Wait to Have Sex After Giving Birth?
There is no mandatory timeframe that you should wait after giving birth to resume intercourse, but most health care practitioners advise you to wait for approximately six weeks before you do. This gives your body time to heal and repair after birthing or surgery.
Will My Breasts Leak During Intercourse?
Yes, it’s possible that your breasts will leak during intercourse. Oxytocin, the love hormone, is the same hormone that is responsible for you having a letdown and is in abundance while you are love making and may trigger a letdown. If this bothers you, you may like to:
- Express before you have sex
- Wear nursing pads during intercourse
- If it doesn’t bother you, don’t worry! After all, its natural!
Will Sex Be Painful While I am Breastfeeding?
The changes that occur during breastfeeding cause your body to produce less oestrogen and oestrogen is a key hormone for arousal and vaginal lubrication.
As such, you may find that it takes a little longer to become turned on and penetration may be painful. To aid with this:
- Take your time with foreplay
- Invest in a water-based lubricant to assist with penetration
- Visit your doctor for advice; they may prescribe an oestrogen cream if lubricant is not helping
Exploring Sex and Intimacy as a New Mum
There are many ways to achieve intimacy and engage with your partner without penetration or having intercourse. With your new little one in the picture, it is likely that time spent with just the two of you will be a rarity. However, it’s important to make time by setting small “couple goals,” such as watching a movie together, going for a walk, or going out for a meal.
Keep in mind that your partner is also undergoing changes in becoming a new parent and may have similar thoughts and worries as you.
With all of this in mind, keeping an open dialogue about your needs and being honest with one another will also help you to reconnect in this time of change and you may find that the changes you are both experiencing will bring you closer together.
How would you describe the impact that giving birth and breastfeeding had on your relationship? What advice would you give to the other women in our community? Let’s support each other here or on the Medela Australia Facebook page!