Breastfeeding isn't easy. It's a period in your life when it's easy to feel like you're not fully in charge of your body, and this lack of bodily autonomy can make you feel less sexy, while not fully dulling your libido. Because of this, how strong couples keep their sex life alive during breastfeeding is of interest to many new moms as they begin this journey. It's easy to feel like you're struggling and literally no one can blame you.
When I was breastfeeding my children, I'll admit there were times where I just felt like I'd been, well, felt enough for the day. According to Breastfeeding Basics, this feeling of being "touched out" is pretty common. It can be so overwhelming to have someone kneading and grabbing your breasts for hours on end each day, that when it comes to sex, it's not that you're uninterested, but that you need space to feel sexy.
In order to determine how strong couples keep their sex life alive during breastfeeding, I asked licensed sex therapist Mark Hunter just how they manage.
Hunter tells Romper that breastfeeding and sex seems more complicated than it is. He says that strong couples weather changes in their sex life well because they have a "solid grip on what their relationship needs." (Also, probably a strong grip on other things as well.) "They know the limits and desires of each other, and if that includes a healthy amount of sexual intimacy — which it usually does — then they figure out how to make it work.
But Hunter notes that you might actually notice a bump in your sexual energy, too. The hormone that is released during sex, oxytocin, is also released during breastfeeding, and for some women, it does great things for their sex life. How strong couples keep their sex life alive during breastfeeding is sometimes as simple as exploiting that hormonal rush. Also, Hunter says that some men are really aroused by their partner's breasts while they're nursing, and that it's perfectly natural and shouldn't be something to be ashamed about. "It's typically an arousal that comes after curiosity. If a partner is touching his partner's breasts, sucking on them, he's going to taste some milk, and that can be a turn-on, but for some men it's just the opposite," he says. And if a woman's milk is a turn-off for a partner, a couple can work around it as long as their relationship's strong, like pumping before sex or avoiding nipple stimulation.
Developing good sexual habits are essential to a strong relationship, says Hunter, and "while specific activities may change when you're pregnant and nursing, they don't disappear." It's a part of feeling connected as a couple.
In the end, it's all about riding through the storm and coming out on the other side. It might be treacherous, or it might be really fun playing-in-the-mud-dirty, but strong couples know that they can shift when necessary to allow everyone to have fun.