4 Benefits of Breastfeeding Your
Doctor Didn't Tell You
It’s easy to learn about all the benefits of breastfeeding for your baby and for you. A simple internet search turns up hundreds of articles about the health benefits for you both. There are many great books on the how to breastfeed – one of my favorites is: Breastfeeding Made Simple
You have become a mother/parent. Life has changed, you have changed, and so has your body. The sooner you learn to love the new you, the many benefits you, your partner your baby will see and feel.
But today I want to share with you the 4 ways that breastfeeding impacts you and your relationship that you won’t find in all the searches!
Did you know that…
Breastfeeding protects your mental health and helps you sleep better
Kendell-Tackett has many great articles and resources including The Role of Breastfeeding in Protecting Mothers’ Mental Health She says: “ breastfeeding turns off the hyperactive stress response and lowers inflammation. This is one way that breastfeeding protects women’s health throughout their lives. It not only lowers their risk of depression, it also lowers their risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.” She goes on to show how exclusive breastfeeding improves your sleep, and for survivors of sexual abuse, “exclusive breastfeeding actually lessened the effect of previous sexual assault!”.
Your hormones of breastfeeding are designed to bring you calm, connection and love
Oxytocin, the hormone of love, builds and reaches its highest level after you give birth. The same hormone is released and rises with orgasm and amazingly, also with breastfeeding! This shy hormone is an important part of all our reproductive functions and is affected by your emotions. By understanding how breastfeeding is connected to your hormones and your hormones are connected to your sense of privacy, safety and emotional well-being you’ll be better able to create the space and support you need to let your hormones and milk flow.
There is much to consider in the importance of flowing oxytocin in all your life and both what hinders its release and what facilitates its release. There are many benefits too!
Oxytocin is a stress reducer, reduces pain, has a role in pleasure, feelings of love and bonding.
Years ago I read a great op-ed that discussed how we have an oxytocin shortage that is disconnecting us from our authentic selves and each other. When you breastfeed oxytocin triggers the milk let down reflex that is needed to allow your milk to flow.
In the article, The Physiological Basis of Breastfeeding (from the World Health Organization, Infant and Young Child Feeding: Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals), the authors say; “Oxytocin starts working when a mother expects a feed as well as when the baby is suckling. The reflex becomes conditioned to the mother’s sensations and feelings, such as touching, smelling or seeing her baby, or hearing her baby cry, or thinking lovingly about him or her. If a mother is in severe pain or emotionally upset, the oxytocin reflex may become inhibited, and her milk may suddenly stop flowing well. If she receives support, it helps to feel comfortable and lets the baby continue to breastfeed, the milk will flow again. It is important to understand the oxytocin reflex, because it explains why the mother and baby should be kept together and why they should have skin-to-skin contact.”
Breastfeeding impacts your sexuality
Some people want more sex with heightened hormones flowing and many others feel touched out and exhausted. You may experience both these feelings all at once. After so much skin to skin contact and stimulation of your breasts with breastfeeding you may need more time to turn on and tune in to your body and your partner. Combine this with 500 years of patriarchy giving us some strong messages and often shame or discomfort about Motherhood/Parenthood, breastfeeding and sexuality. There is a lot to unpack about how you feel about breastfeeding and having sex alone or with a partner.. Sexuaity is an important aspect of every person. I believe it’s as vital as drinking water each day. Take time to honor your post baby sexuality. Learning more about how breastfeeding will impact your sexuaity is well worth the effort and discussion with your partner.
Breastfeeding makes you both dry and wet
Yes, breastfeeding and all the hormonal changes can leave you with less natural vagainal lubrication. It’s a great time to enjoy some natural lubricants like coconut oil. Partners can feel that maybe they are not turning you on, so be sure to talk about this side affect of breastfeeding and how it’s an opportunity to explore new ways to turn on and bring more fun to sex.
The hormones of orgasm also trigger milk let down and your partner can receive a face full of spraying milk! Talk about this ahead of time too as it can be a big surprise to you both. Some people find this a great turn on and have fun, even love the sweet taste of warm milk. Some find this uncomfortable. Planning ahead to welcome your warm milk or to wear a bra with pads to absorb the milk, whatever you and your partner desires. Breastfeeding impacts your sexuality and provides an opportunity for more open communication about your new likes and desires. With some talking and planning, it’s an opportunity to expand your sexuality after having a baby and bring variety and playfulness to love making.
Do you want to learn more ways that breastfeeding impacts your hormones, emotions and relationship?
Join my Sex After Baby Class Signature Class.
Within a small intimate group, I will lead you in discussion about all the changes you are going through in feeding and caring for your baby.
Parenting impacts intimacy and sex and it doesn’t have too be in a negative way, you have an opportunity to have more love, connection and yes better sex and be the best parent too!