Does Breastfeeding Increase Milk Supply?

Many breastfeeding new mothers struggle with a low or no libido, as well as engorged and painful breasts. This can make it difficult to enjoy intimacy with a partner.

Some women even leak milk during sex because of the hormone oxytocin which causes both sexual arousal and milk ejection (‘letdown’). Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this.

1. Stress Reduction

The hormones that support breastfeeding can make you feel drained after a long day of diaper changes and late-night feedings. These hormones can also lower your libido, especially in the first few weeks after delivery.

But, there are some ways to improve your sex life while breastfeeding. Having sex can boost milk supply, increase oxytocin and decrease cortisol levels. Plus, it can also help you bond with your partner.

It’s important to remember that sperm will not destroy breast milk and can even increase your supply, as long as you have a healthy relationship. Many new mothers worry that sex will ruin their ability to breastfeed, which leads them to stop nursing. It’s important to know that this is not true. If you’re worried about having sex while breastfeeding, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant for advice.

Leaky breasts during sex aren’t always fun, but they’re perfectly normal. They’re usually caused by a combination of factors, including stimulation and the hormones that trigger milk letdown. It can help to pump or nurse to empty your breasts before sex, as well as wear a bra with nursing pads tucked inside during intimacy.

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Research shows that chronic stress, such as in a traumatic situation, can cause lipolysis, which decreases the availability of glucose for milk fat synthesis. This is probably because glucose is used immediately to provide energy for the brain during a stress response.

2. Feeling Bonded

As a breastfeeding mom, your hormones take a big hit while you’re nursing. This may lead to a dip in your libido or even the loss of your desire for sex altogether. Your oestrogen levels will drop and progesterone will be lower, which can all affect your feelings of arousal. However, once your supply is stable and you can comfortably breastfeed at a consistent rate, your hormones will get back to normal and your libido will increase.

Interestingly, both breastfeeding and orgasm are orchestrated by the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the same hormone that facilitates parturition and the milk ejection reflex (letdown) of your breasts. While some new mothers find this a bit confusing, there’s no need to worry; it’s all totally normal and can be a huge turn on for some couples.

It’s also worth noting that breastfeeding nipples can be sore and uncomfortable during lovemaking, especially when they are full of milk. If this is the case, try wearing a supportive nursing bra during intimacy to prevent your breasts from becoming over-full. Changing your sexual position, such as lying on your back in the missionary style can help too, since this reduces the likelihood of a heavy letdown all at once and increases circulation. You can also try tucking a few nursing pads into your bra to absorb any leaks.

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3. Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

As a new mom, you likely haven’t had much sleep in the first few weeks or even months after your baby was born. This is normal and understandable, but it can also make you feel less energized and can affect your milk supply. As Fit Pregnancy points out, the sleep hormone melatonin can help stimulate the production of milk. And sex increases your levels of this hormone, as well.

Then, as Women’s Health points out, the oxytocin produced during sexual intercourse can increase your REM sleep cycle and promote a better night’s rest. Getting enough sleep is essential for your milk supply, as well as for your general health and wellbeing.

While sleeping, the suckling motion of your partner can also stimulate your milk letdown. And as you suck, your body is using up a lot of energy, which can help keep your supply steady over the course of a night.

As a nursing mom, you may experience some leakage during sexual intercourse, as this pesky hormone oxytocin is responsible for both sexual arousal and milk “letdown.” This can happen if your breasts are full or if it’s been a while since you last fed your baby. To minimize the chance of leaking, try not to breastfeed right before or during sexual intercourse and tuck nursing pads inside your bra to catch any spills.

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4. Stimulation

Many new moms feel like sex is the last thing on their mind after baby arrives. Between late-night feedings and early-morning dirty diapers, sex can sometimes feel out of reach. This is perfectly normal, as the postpartum period can have a monumental impact on hormones and libido.

In addition, the hormone prolactin will crank up in order to stimulate your breasts for milk production, which will reduce estrogen levels and dampen sexual desire. Breastfeeding also triggers oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone,” and can increase bonding between you and your partner. This can cause your nipples to fill with milk, and it’s not uncommon for breastfeeding women to leak milk during orgasm as well.

Luckily, these issues can be resolved by wearing a bra with nursing pads during lovemaking, feeding your baby before intimacy, and/or pumping beforehand to empty your breasts. In time, your libido and milk supply should return to what they were before the birth of your child. In the meantime, try to relax and enjoy the many benefits that come with breastfeeding your little one!

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Tomasz

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