• Dr Peter Chew

Breastfeeding and sex

I am a first-time mom. My baby is now 2 months old and still on full breast feeding. My husband wants to have sex with me, but I am frightened of pain. Besides, I have no desire. Can I resume sex now? Will it be painful? My friend told me that as long as I breast feed my baby, I cannot get pregnant. Is it true?

Sexual intercourse may be resumed after the red or brown vaginal discharge called lochia has stopped and stitches at your vagina healed. Usually, most women would have recovered by 6 to 8 weeks after delivery.

Several factors can affect your sexuality besides the fear of pain.

· You may be suffering from lack of sleep and exhaustion attending to your baby’s endless needs.

· You may be so tired by the demands of being a new mother, that you have little time for your husband.

· Sex seems like another physical demand on your body that you may not want to connect with your husband emotionally.

· Fear of another pregnancy may also be an inhibiting factor.

· Breastfeeding suppresses ovulation. This would reduce the amount of female hormone (oestrogen) circulating in your body to below normal levels, causing vaginal dryness and a general dampening of sexual desire.

However, every woman is different, and some nursing mothers report that breastfeeding does not affect their libido. Physically, you may notice a change in the size and shape of your vagina after birth. For the first few times, sex may be painful due to vaginal dryness. Use a water soluble lubricant such as K-Y jelly or Femglide, and try positions that allow you to be in control of penetration. You may experience "let down"(leaking of milk) during sex. This is normal and there is no way to prevent it.

While it is true that on average, most women who breastfeed fully would not be fertile for about six months after childbirth. It is not a foolproof way of contraception. You can become pregnant again even before you have your first period.

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