As if settling into life as a breastfeeding mom wasn't hard enough, once you get the all clear from your doctor, it's time to add back another facet of your life — sex. You know, if you want to. But if you know how to have sex when you're breastfeeding, it doesn't sound quite as terrifying or impossible. (And for the record, I mean sex as a breastfeeding mom. Not, you know, sex when you're actually breastfeeding.)
There's a reason sex and breastfeeding can sound difficult to enjoy together. Up until now, you've probably seen your breasts as something other than ways to provide nourishment to your baby. They might have even been erogenous zones for you while having sex with your partner. But your breasts may feel like they no longer belong to you or that they aren't welcome in the intimate moments of your bedroom. It's normal, but it's also normal to still really enjoy sex and want your breasts to be part of your sex life. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Lori Atkins of Oh Baby Lactation Care tells Romper that many women worry about this, especially if breast play is a turn on for them. "Breasts are like fingers, they can be sexual and functional; interchangeably, we don't even think about making dinner with the same hands we had fun during sex with," she says. "Your baby nursing at your breast is lovely, sex is wonderful, and your body and brain are awesome enough to know the difference. How nice to have different pleasurable experiences from the same organ."
So how do you have sex when you're breastfeeding? You just do it. And keep your sense of humor, because sex already has enough fluids and breastfeeding can make it worse "Hormones play a large role in our ability to make breast milk and sometimes those hormones can affect our sex life," IBCLC Rachael Anastasio-Collins tells Romper. "Some moms find that an orgasm causes their breasts to leak. Oxytocin, the hormone that causes our milk to flow when the baby nurses, is the same hormone that plays a huge role in orgasms and those feelings of closeness and bonding." If you experience leaking during sex, Anastasio-Collins recommends that you simply press against your breasts for a few seconds to stop the flow or maybe play around with some fun lingerie.
But there's something else to keep in mind so you know how to have sex when breastfeeding: lube. According to Anastasio-Collins, some moms experience vaginal dryness while they are breastfeeding, but this isn't a permanent change. It just might help to keep some lube handy so you can make sex as enjoyable as possible. (Because nobody likes dry sex.)
It can be hard to overcome seeing your breasts as sexual objects when it's time to feed your baby, and it can be hard to see them as your baby's nourishment when you want to have sex. But if you and your partner are open with each other, have great communication, and know that someone may or may not get sprayed with breast milk during a surge of passion, it can alleviate some worries.
If you're feeling like sex is the last possible thing you want, that's OK, too. According to Anastasio-Collins, some breastfeeding moms experience a decrease in libido. It doesn't last forever, but all of those hormonal shifts can cause your sex drive to feel a little less than exuberant. Not to mention feeling touched out. La Leche League described feeling touched out as feeling irritated when someone is touching you or trying to be intimate with you — you just want your body to yourself. After a day of breastfeeding, having your partner cuddle you or touch you may seem like the worst thing in the world. (Sorry, partner.) Again, totally normal, and will eventually fade away, but if you need some alone time in the shower or just to sit without someone else touching you, go for it. Then when you're ready for intimacy, you'll really be ready for it.
Sex when you're breastfeeding doesn't have to be difficult or a huge production; it can be just as wonderful as it always was. Now sex when you're exhausted from those late night cluster feedings? That's something else entirely.