Sometimes we forget all of the ups and downs that accompany being a new mom. One thing that I wish someone would have mentioned was how low my libido could be during my breastfeeding journey and the reasons behind it. At the time, I didn’t quite understand the “why” behind my low libido, and I didn’t have any actionable tips that could help me do something about it . In this post we’ll get into:
- Does breastfeeding affect libido?
- Are libido enhancers safe while breastfeeding?
- How to increase libido while breastfeeding naturally
- Will my libido ever come back?
Table of Contents
Does Breastfeeding Affect Libido?
This is a weighty question, with numerous variables that could be affecting your libido. Some of the biggest culprits to your low libido could be: hormonal changes, vaginal dryness, and body image concerns.
The last thing that you may feel like doing in this phase of life is being touched when you could be sleeping or letting your body take a break. Yet, you also want to keep that connection with your partner. What do you do? Stick with me to gain new information and tips that will promote positive action and some creativity to bring back some affection with your partner postpartum.
It can be normal for mamas who are breastfeeding to feel a lack of desire. You are not alone. Hormones play key roles in our sexual desire and even in our mama instincts. While breastfeeding, your body produces higher levels of the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is the opposite to estrogen. When prolactin levels are higher, it lowers our level of estrogen and even testosterone, which reduces sexual desire. Even though testosterone is considered a “male” hormone, women have low levels that help contribute to our drive.
Hormones could be a major factor to why you’re just not feeling in the mood these days. The good news is that estrogen levels will come back. As your baby grows, and begins to eat more solid foods, breastfeeding will decrease, and estrogen levels will rise. It may be slow to your partner, but now can be a great chance to connect in other ways.
For some great explanations that break it down your hormonal changes further you can watch this video:
You’ve been given the “green light” by your doctor that you can be intimate. So you and your partner try it, but you have pain with penetration and it feels like sandpaper. Dyspareunia, or pain with intercourse, can be a common complaint while breastfeeding. Why is this happening? Remember that hormone estrogen we mentioned above? With breastfeeding and prolactin levels increased, estrogen levels are lowered. Estrogen is necessary for making our vaginal wall more moist, and to create the outer tissue of our vagina. With lowered estrogen levels, arousal is more difficult and intercourse painful. This doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success does it?
Thankfully, vaginal dryness and the “sandpaper” feel can be improved through drinking more water and the use of a water based lubricant. Drinking water can affect the tissue surrounding your vagina, while water based lubricants will help smooth and slick things out. You do not and should not suffer through the pain. Always consult your medical provider and let them know this is happening. They may have other options available and may be able to suggest some water based lubricants.
(Always check the ingredient list used in your lubricants, as some can be full of harmful chemicals. If you are curious what some of those chemicals could be, this is a great article that lists a few out and provides ways to check your lube.)
For me, this was a big issue in being able to feel sexy and to get in the mood to have intercourse. I didn’t recognize the body I was in, I had a 4th degree tear, I was leaking from my breasts and vagina, and I had stretch marks in new places. I was self conscious and anxious. And I wasn’t alone. For many, pregnancy, giving birth, and breastfeeding come with drastic changes in their bodies. We want to feel beautiful in our new skin and yet we’re not always comfortable bearing it. Some women are able to see these changes and for them it is proof of how amazing they are, and can boost their libido. Both spectrums are normal and it is ok to have mixed feelings or to be on one end or the other.
Some women found that once they managed to view their body with the perspective of how miraculous it was, creating and sustaining a human life, it really improved how they felt about their body. However, sometimes that view can get fogged up in the sleepless nights, the leaking breasts, and the soreness. Ask your partner to listen to how you are feeling and what your body has gone through. You can even ask them to remind them of how beautiful your body is! Through communication and connection you can feel sexy!
Are Libido Enhancers Safe While Breastfeeding?
There are many types of libido enhancers on the market, and while some may claim to be safe for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, I would exercise caution. Many will tell you not to take it directly in the directions if you are breastfeeding.
A good rule of thumb would be to always consult your medical provider before trying anything. They know your medical history and can assess ingredients in the enhancer, even if it is labeled as natural. Overall, it is difficult to know what effects could be had on breast milk production and even baby’s health by using an enhancer. Other resources available could be a lactation consultant or LactMed. When in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
How to Increase Libido While Breastfeeding the Natural Way?
There is no one size fits all answer for this question. What may work for some women, doesn’t work for others, and as we read above, supplementing with enhancers may not be an option while breastfeeding. Let’s check out some ideas and tips to naturally increase your libido.
During exercise you release endorphins which cause you to feel a natural sense of well being. Through physical exercise you can also improve the mental state of your body image. Targeting your pelvic floor muscles will also help in strengthening them and can help your overall experience with intercourse postpartum. As always, please check with your medical provider to see what exercises you may need to avoid while you are still healing. They can also help you determine if you have diastasis recti or the separation of your abdominal muscles in pregnancy.
In that case it may be best to schedule an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist to address any pelvic and abdominal wall issues, and learn healthy exercises to strengthen those muscles safely.
For vaginal deliveries, you can typically begin exercising after 6 weeks. If you have had a Cesarean Section (C-Section) typically you can begin exercising after 8 weeks. If you do not feel ready, you do not and probably should not push yourself too hard. Take things slowly and listen to your body.
Hydration and Diet
Having plenty of water and a whole balanced diet can also help with libido. Some foods are even known for their aphrodisiac or libido boosting properties, while also giving you the vitamins and minerals you need. By eating plenty of fruits and vegetables they can help regulate your hormones and give your body what it really needs.
Check out our post to find some great healthy snacks to support a healthy recovery and breastfeeding postpartum.
I know this is difficult, when you have a new baby, and even a not-so-new baby. But prioritizing and planning to get sleep can really help overall in the libido department. Talking with your partner and sharing ways that you can both plan to get better sleep will be beneficial to both of you.
Many have expressed that touching in non erotic ways like cuddling, kissing, holding hands, and overall connecting with their partner in little ways was a big leap in libido. Just being able to have that closeness made them eventually want more.
Being able to connect with your partner in simple ways can keep the flame there. You both may need to sit down and talk about your love languages and what you may be needing. Perhaps finding time where someone you trust can watch the baby while you go on a walk, or a date. Playing games, or doing small things, can increase libido.
If you think you may not be able to communicate fully with your partner check out this blog post to see if you may be experiencing postpartum resentment and what you can do about it
These may be controversial and will depend on backgrounds, preferences, etc. which is totally normal and is OK to disagree or agree with. These are simply ideas that you could try. Sometimes reading a romantic novel can remind yourself that you have feelings! The level of spiciness can be up to you and your partner.
If your medical provider thinks it is ok, you may be able to also use vibrators or toys to allow you to experience orgasm. As preferences, and time may have changed during your pregnancy, and breastfeeding journey, it is ok to figure out what works for now and maybe what doesn’t.
When Should I Expect my Libido to Return?
There isn’t an exact time when you can expect your libido to return, it can depend on your body and the journey it is on. Sometimes it does just take time for your head and your body to get in sync again after such drastic changes have occurred.
For some, libido returning can be as they start weaning and baby starts eating more solid foods. For others, weaning can bring an unbalance in hormones as your body adjusts, making you feel more out of sync than when you were breastfeeding.
The best answer that I can leave you with is, in time. Listen to your body, talk with your partner and other women you trust as you go through this journey, and don’t be afraid to ask your medical professional any questions that you may have. Don’t be afraid to try new ways. What may have worked in the past, may not now in the present.
There are many variables at play when it comes to breastfeeding and libido. Sometimes there isn’t just one variable, we may experience hormonal ups and downs, while also adjusting to our new body and what it is capable of. Your libido will return! I promise! It is possible to enjoy time with your partner, while also balancing being a new mom. As you take time to express your needs and communicate with your partner, you will find natural and healthy ways you can boost your libido while caring for a new person. It may take trial and error, but it is possible.
Niki Cowan has a background in Medicine and Public Health. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist as well as a Medical Assistant. She’s passionate about Women’s Health and empowering women in their journeys. She is married to her wonderful husband Kevin, and they have an active son. While trying to have another little one hasn’t worked out yet, she is pursuing her passions and hoping to gain further education and experience in the area she loves, while playing with her son. She’s an avid reader, Original Great British Baking Show watcher, and very amateur kickboxer.