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One of the most challenging period in a woman’s life is the postpartum period, which is said to continue for minimum of six weeks and a maximum of three years following the birth of a child. It’s been said that the relative pleasure and exhilaration of pregnancy and child birth are but preparation for the grueling adjustments of the postpartum period. The first six weeks of caring for a newborn baby is the hardest work women ever do.

The changes that a woman has to go through are phenomenal. Not only does she have to care for the baby, but she has to make adjustments to add another person to the family. All of this leaves no time for the woman to focus on sex. Which leaves us with the question “Is a woman sexually active in the postpartum period?” With a little patience and creativity, sex usually comes back better than ever, but with it’s fair share of adjustments. But to truly understand sexuality during this phase, we must first look at the physical process of recovery as well as that of lactation.

Physical Changes
In the first few moments following delivery, fresh spurts of oxytocin are released to contract the uterus and shear off the placenta. As the baby is put to the breast, nipple stimulation triggers additional oxytocin, which shrinks the uterus down to the size of a grapefruit. Over the next ten days or so, continued release of oxytocin will contract the uterus back to its pre–pregnant size. When a woman breastfeeds, oxytocin levels rise even higher according to frequency of nursing, which in the first few weeks may occur as often as every hour or two. The extra boost serves to contract and tone the upper vaginal area (or vault), a process that takes place much more slowly in women who bottle feed.

Breastfeeding is initiated in part by the hormone prolactin, which is released as estrogen and progesterone levels drop with delivery. Ongoing milk production is due to sucking stimulation of the breasts; the more the baby sucks, the more milk the mother will produce, provided she has adequate rest, food, and drink. Let–down of milk is caused by oxytocin’s release, most directly by nipple stimulation.

What does let–down feel like? Generally, it’s very pleasurable. There is a tingling in the breasts, a tightening as they fill, and a longing for release. Women have the experience which can be directly correlated with an orgasm. She feels an urge to find a mate: a mother experiencing let–down really wants her baby. No wonder women find breastfeeding to be a sexual experience! Sometimes, the accompanying uterine and vaginal contractions even lead to orgasm. The breast feeding process is not only a bond for mother and child but infact is a sexual experience in itself and is very stimulating for her.

Studies have found that mood changes caused by breastfeeding are very much like those that occur with intercourse and orgasm. On the other hand, women who bottle–feed their babies have been shown to have higher levels of depression, anxiety, stress, regression, and guilt on a day–to–day basis than mothers who breastfeed. According to a research , lactating women have shown a suppression of adrenaline release and accompanying neurological activity in response to various kinds of trauma. The release of oxytocin through breastfeeding is something of a biological perk to help women buffer stress and make it through the physical challenges of this phase, such as sleep deprivation, hormonally based emotional changes, and sweeping physiological adjustments.
Andrologist   Gynaecologist and Obstetrician   Sexologist   Postpartum Sex