Melissa Avery is an associate professor and Nurse-Midwifery Program Director at the University of Minnesota, School of Nursing, and participates in full-scope practice with HealthPartners nurse-midwifery service. She currently serves as a member of the Governing Board of the ACNM Division of Research.
The Experience of Sexuality During Breastfeeding among Primiparous Women
Article first published online: 26 JAN 2011
2000 American College of Nurse Midwives
Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health
Volume 45, Issue 3, pages 227–237, May-June 2000
How to Cite
Avery, M. D., Duckett, L. and Frantzich, C. R. (2000), The Experience of Sexuality During Breastfeeding among Primiparous Women. Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health, 45: 227–237. doi: 10.1016/S1526-9523(00)00020-9
- Issue published online: 26 JAN 2011
- Article first published online: 26 JAN 2011
The purpose of this study was to describe various aspects of sexuality for primiparous breastfeeding women. The conceptual framework used for the study was Bernhard's theory of women's integrated sexuality which describes female sexuality as a multidimensional, biopsychosocial phenomenon. The investigators used a descriptive design, analyzing data from the 576 primiparous breastfeeding women who, as part of a larger study, completed the Breastfeeding and Sexuality Tool at the time of complete weaning. The women were from a large, private hospital in urban Minnesota. Subjects completed initial questionnaires during the postpartum hospitalization. Follow-up data were collected by phone at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months postpartum. Those who had not weaned by 12 months were followed every 3 months until complete weaning was reported. Overall, women perceived that breastfeeding had a slightly negative impact on the physiologic aspects of sexuality, but did not greatly affect the woman's sexual relationship with her partner. In addition, breastfeeding mothers perceived their partners' attitudes towards breastfeeding and sexuality as slightly positive, and did not worry that sexual activity would harm their milk supply or their ability to nurse. Overall, breastfeeding had a slightly negative impact on sexuality. However, a wide range of responses were reported by the women. Health care providers should be familiar with the whole range of possible responses to sexuality while breastfeeding in order to appropriately counsel women about what is normal and what to expect during this time.