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Extended Breastfeeding is Killing My Sex Life

Photograph by Twenty20

At 20 months postpartum, I’m finally starting to feel human again. I joined a gym and got back into my pre-pregnancy jeans—the stretchy ones, at least. I’m sleeping better, so I’m not so foggy—no need for Siri to calculate the babysitter’s hours anymore. I’ve even found tiny pockets of me-time for reading magazines and taking showers (ah, the decadent luxury of a mom’s life.)

But you know what I’m not doing? Having sex with my husband. At least not very often. And I feel terrible about it. My husband is a wonderful partner and dad, and he deserves all the sex. But nothing he does—buying me flowers, taking out the garbage, rubbing my back while I watch Real Housewives or just being hot—can light my fire. Not while I’m still breastfeeding.

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This isn’t some made-up excuse. Nursing totally mucks with my hormones. Decreased estrogen and increased prolactin is a perfect formula for low libido—it’s like nature’s way of saying “Trust me, you don’t want to have sex right now, or you could wind up with two kids under two.” Which is pretty considerate of nature, when you think about it.

There really should be a Viagra-style drug for women, except instead of manufacturing an erection it would make us crave sex after baby.

My sex-starved husband is patient with me because he knows nursing is worthwhile and he understands this is a relatively short-term drought (we went through something similar while I was nursing our firstborn). But I'm sure he misses regular action with an enthusiastic partner.

Of course we do the deed sometimes, but I literally need to be reminded. I go entire days—weeks even—without thinking about sex. Which is so weird! I used to be obsessed. I can remember having passionate crushes as early as first grade. At summer camp, I’d initiate games of truth or dare just for the kissing practice.

So for sex to totally disappear from my brain is so bizarre. There really should be a Viagra-style drug for women, except instead of manufacturing an erection it would make us crave sex after baby. I think it would sell, don’t you?

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So I’m in a slump. I know it’s temporary, but I still feel crazy guilty, because, technically I could stop breastfeeding at any time. I just don’t want to. This is my last baby and I’m savoring every last moment of her babyhood. I love the closeness, the bonding, and the magical soothing nursing provides. Frankly, I’m afraid to face teething without it. And I know that once I stop breastfeeding, I’ll never get to do it again, like, ever, and it breaks my heart a little.

I’ll probably wean in a few months, around my daughter’s second birthday, and I know my husband is counting down the days. I have faith that our sex life will perk up, because not only will my hormones level out, but I’ll be able to drink a lot more vodka, which is a great way to get me into bed. Hopefully, my husband and I will look back at this special but slumpy time and feel like the trade-off was worth it.

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