Breastfeeding after Sexual Abuse

mom kisses baby

In Canada, it has been estimated that half of all women have been sexually abused as children.

Not all women who have been abused will have emotional struggles during labor, vaginal exams or while breastfeeding. Everyone deals with their past differently.

A Previously Abused Mother might be Struggling with

  • Depression and stress.
  • Increased sensitivity to pain. 
  • May struggle with substance abuse. 
  • May struggle with eating disorders. 
  • May have sleeping disorders. 
  • Risky sexual behavior. 
  • Low self-esteem and trust issues. 
  • Hostility towards others. 
  • May socially isolate themselves. 

Suggestions for More Comfortable Feedings

  • Learn more about postpartum depression and how to deal with it. 
  • If night feedings are difficult, it is often suggested to allow a partner to feed the baby during these difficult times. 
  • If the mother is uncomfortable with breastfeeding, she may decide to pump her milk and feed her baby the expressed breast milk. 
  • Some mothers have found that it helps to keep themselves busy with a book or television while breastfeeding to distract themselves. 

What is normal? Many women experience sexual pleasure from breastfeeding, this is due to the physical stimulation of the nipples. This is a common and physiologically normal response.

If you would like to breastfeed but are struggling with any of these issues, due to past traumatic experiences, I suggest you see a psychologist who can help you deal better with your specific concerns.

In the end, what really matters, is that your baby has a happy mommy. If breastfeeding means that you will be miserable, decide to give your baby donor breast milk or formula instead, if donor milk is not available.

Breastfeeding after Sexual Abuse
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