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The One Thing You Need To Know If You Don't Feel Sexy Because You're Breastfeeding

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So you've decided to breastfeed your baby. Maybe it was hard initially, but after some blood, sweat, tears, and no small amount of leaked milk, you've reached a point where you're confident saying, "Yep, I'm doing it." Congratulations! But what's this? There's another problem? You don't feel sexy because you're breastfeeding? Ah, I see. So before we even get into your specific issue, let me first say: welcome to parenthood, where the end of one trouble only begets the beginning of another.

Now, let me assure you that there are a whole bunch of perfectly valid reasons (and some completely bullsh*t ones that aren't on you) why you may not feel as alluring as usual. Among the valid, if not unfortunate, reasons are hormones. Decreases in estrogen and testosterone, as well as an uptick in prolactin, all potentially serve to make you less frisky. I don't know about you, but when I feel less frisky, I feel less friskable. Strike one. Valid strike number two would be the fact that lactating boobs can often be swollen, engorged, chomped upon, scratched up, and otherwise not their best, which would reasonably affect anyone's ability to feel anything other than grumpy. It's just a matter of practicality. Strike numero three? Girl, you are far too exhausted to feel sexy. Only your pillow is at your level of intimacy.

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Another issue that may factor in to your not feeling like an irresistible sex goddess these days is your partner. If you're breastfeeding, chances are you have a very young child. You both love this very young child, and it's not that you have stopped loving each other (I hope) but you're both still figuring out how to have a intimate, meaningful, and, yes, sexy relationship with that child in your life. This can mean bumpy communication, less sex (which in and of itself can affect one's personal feelings of desirability), and, once again, complete and total exhaustion. Perhaps you don't feel sexy because they are not responding to you as per usual. Either way, there is a far better than average chance that this isn't pointed disdain for your lactating self, but rather a completely understandable rough spot that is affecting everything in your life together.

However, when it comes to the one thing I need you to know about not feeling sexy because you're breastfeeding, you should know there are limitless ways to feel and be sexy and you are not required to pursue any of them.

OK, so these are all completely rational, understandable, and normal reasons you might be feeling a bit "blah" about your sex appeal while breastfeeding. Now on to the bullsh*t reasons, because while they're unfair, they're also powerful.

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When I say "bullsh*t," I don't mean, "These are dumb reasons and you're stupid for feeling this way because of them." I'm just saying, "These are things that we, as women in this specific society, have been told again and again so it's no wonder they have a deleterious effect on us and it's bullsh*t."

Understanding sexy isn't a requirement can also free you to the point where you finally feel empowered enough to go out and feel sexy in new and exciting ways.

Society has this nasty tendency to tell women when they should and shouldn't be sexy. Motherhood, unfortunately and ironically, is often seen as the polar opposite of viable female sexuality. (It's called the Madonna/Whore Complex and it blows.) When you are breastfeeding, you constantly have a physical reminder of your motherhood because you're lactating. This is often particularly troubling to a lot of women because breasts have become so hyper-sexualized and divorced from even a whiff of functionality, that engaging with your breasts in a practical or utilitarian way seems to strip them of what we have seen up until this point as their sole function: decorative objects.

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"OK, great," you may say. "So you can tell me why I don't feel sexy. That doesn't change anything. What do you want me to do with this information? What can I do to feel hot again?"

Good question. Starting with the last question first, I honestly don't know. That's a really individual, personal issue everyone has to figure out for themselves. However, when it comes to the one thing I need you to know about not feeling sexy because you're breastfeeding, you should know there are limitless ways to feel and be sexy and you are not required to pursue any of them.

Motherhood, unfortunately and ironically, is often seen as the polar opposite of viable female sexuality.

Women, long defined and valued by their sex appeal, often feel that, in order to fulfill some important aspect of womanhood, they have to be effortlessly sexy at all times. So when they feel unsexy it's tremendously demoralizing. But you are not, in any way, shape, or form, obligated to be sexy in order to be valued or worthy. Realizing this can be a truly liberating (and eye opening) experience. So if you don't feel sexy because you're breastfeeding, really think about if whether being sexy is intrinsically all that important to you. I'm not saying it isn't: it absolutely can be! But maybe, at the end of the day, it's not all that important to you. Or maybe it's not all that important to you at the moment. That's totally fine. Understanding sexy isn't a requirement can also free you to the point where you finally feel empowered enough to go out and feel sexy in new and exciting ways.

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"Sexy" isn't one universally accepted, narrow definition as posed to us (literally) in pop culture. Don't believe there is more than one day to be, or be perceived as, sexy? Go to literally any amateur porn site, behold the wondrous variety of butt and boob shapes, then go ahead and read some of the many appreciative comments. A person can find inner stores of sexy from any number of different kinds of bodies and — bonus! — find someone who agrees and says, "Damn, girl. You've got it going on."

So if you're feeling yourself in an unsexy funk, relax, take a breath, and remember: sexy is optional and variable anyway. You're going to be fine. So go on out there and bring sexy back,or don't! That's the beauty of options, people.