If your libido is low while breastfeeding, you are not alone. It’s completely normal and for good reason.
Breastfeeding can increase prolactin, which suppresses estrogen and testosterone levels – all of which play an important role in sexual desire.
Women who formula feed don’t experience this hormonal change and their libido typically returns faster.
There’s no denying that breastfeeding has a significant impact on hormone levels. When a woman is breastfeeding, her estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, while oxytocin and prolactin increase in order to produce milk. These hormones work together to suppress ovulation and prevent pregnancy. This means that a woman’s normal menstrual cycle is interrupted while she’s breastfeeding, but it should return as soon as she stops nursing.
These hormonal changes, coupled with sleep deprivation in the early postpartum period can have an impact on a new mom’s libido. Women are often tired and feel like they don’t have any energy to devote to their partners, let alone sex. Additionally, waking up for feedings several times throughout the course of a day can make many women feel “touched out” as a result of having their little one on them so much.
Add to that the fact that a new mother’s body might look very different from her pre-pregnancy body and she might not feel so great about herself, and you can see why many new mothers struggle with their sex drive. This is all exacerbated by the fact that breastfeeding can cause a woman to have leaking breasts, which can affect lubrication and further decrease sexual interest. Thankfully, these issues should pass with time and a few simple lifestyle changes.
When breastfeeding, you are often sleep deprived. Overnight feedings cause your prolactin levels to spike, sending a signal that your body needs more milk. The same hormones can trigger a melatonin release that signals your body it is nighttime. This can disrupt your circadian rhythm, causing you to wake frequently at night or have trouble falling back to sleep. This lack of sleep may also impact your daytime energy and make it harder to concentrate and problem-solve.
Aside from affecting your mood and energy, sleep deprivation can damage your memory, reduce creativity and learning abilities, lead to a weakened immune system that increases the risk of illness and infections, and impact your heart health, leading to high blood pressure and blood sugar. It can also decrease your libido, and affect the production of hormones that help boost fertility.
Even occasional sleep deprivation can cause short-term problems like irritability and a feeling of being out of sorts. However, continued lack of sleep can contribute to long-term issues like high blood pressure and weight gain, depression, heart disease, anxiety, and poor job performance. In extreme cases, sleep deprivation can lead to psychosis. Fortunately, the effects usually go away once you get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep and following a regular routine can prevent breastfeeding-related sleep issues and help ensure your baby gets the nutrition she needs to grow strong.
While the hormonal changes and sleep deprivation of breastfeeding are major contributors to a new mom’s low libido, physical demands can also play a role. Breastfeeding requires a lot of physical activity, especially during the early months of lactation. The constant feedings and frequent nipple arousal can take their toll on any woman’s body, and it is not uncommon for new moms to feel uncomfortable or even physically turned off during sexual encounters.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body increases its production of estrogen and progesterone – two sex hormones that have direct impacts on the libido. But after delivery and throughout the breastfeeding process, these levels plummet — and with them, a new mother’s interest in sex. Breastfeeding also triggers the release of oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone” and contributes to a woman’s strong desire to cuddle her baby.
Many women who find their sex drive is low or non-existent while breastfeeding assume that something is wrong with them. But in fact, this is completely normal and a part of the biological process of adjusting to motherhood. Fortunately, the lack of interest in sex can be overcome with time and as a woman’s body returns to its pre-pregnancy state. And it is not impossible to experience pleasure during breastfeeding — there are many non-sexual ways of bonding with your partner that can also foster a sense of intimacy.
Many women feel guilty when their sex drive drops while breastfeeding. They may feel like they are betraying their partner or that they should be more interested in sex because it was what they had before having the baby. But it is normal for new moms to have low sex drives while breastfeeding. It takes a lot of energy to feed, clean and care for a newborn.
Breastfeeding also releases oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone.” It is responsible for why you want to cuddle your little one and can cause orgasms in some women. This can make you feel more affectionate and less sexually aroused than usual, especially if you aren’t used to having orgasms regularly.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable with your lack of sex drive, it might help to communicate with your partner. He may be able to provide some sexy alternatives that can get you back in the mood, such as a nipple massage or a deep kiss.
Another issue that may impact a woman’s libido while breastfeeding is the way her body looks. She may notice that her breasts have changed shape after breastfeeding and this can make her feel self-conscious. This can lead to a negative body image, which can have a knock-on effect on the sex drive. It’s important for new mothers to remember that their bodies are beautiful.