For first-time moms, afterbirth cramping is usually mild. But in the days immediately after giving birth to your second (or third, or fourth) baby, you may experience more intense, menstrual-like cramps while breastfeeding.
Why Does It Happen?
The uterus is a muscle, and each pregnancy over-stretches the muscle. The nipple stimulation experienced while breastfeeding causes a hormone, oxytocin, to be released into your bloodstream. This hormone causes the contraction of all smooth muscles and helps your uterus contract back into its pre-pregnancy shape and size. These contractions also help reduce postpartum blood loss, so although you may be uncomfortable, this cramping is helping your body heal.
What Can You Do?
Don’t be afraid to ask for pain medication while still in the hospital – it will be safe for you and your baby. You can also give yourself a gentle lower-stomach massage or lie on your stomach with a pillow placed under your lower abdomen. These afterbirth pains almost always subside within a few days, but if they continue longer than that or if the pain becomes intense, reach out to your healthcare provider.
If you have questions about breastfeeding in the early days, our Lactation Consultant is here to help – one-on-one via email and completely free of charge. Reach out to her here.