Why Does Breastfeeding Sometimes Cause Cramps?

February 4, 2015

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.

10 thoughts on “Why Does Breastfeeding Sometimes Cause Cramps?

    • Hi Brittany,

      Congratulations on your new little one! Here is more information and tips on breastfeeding a sleepy baby: http://bit.ly/1z7RG01

      If it feels like your baby is biting down on your nipple, you may benefit from working on finding a better latch. Learn more about latching baby to the breast here: http://bit.ly/qLSOsq. If you’re still having trouble, a Lactation Consultant would be a great resource for making sure you and your baby get off to a good breastfeeding start. Find an LC near you by searching here: http://bit.ly/1DAEGnE

      Hope this helps!

  1. Im a new mom and I began breastfeeding my baby from birth and i got a really bad breast infection in one of my breast and wasnt able to feed him from that breast. This caused me to have to replace the milk he wasnt getting from me with formula. Now weeks later the breast is healed and he wont latch on to my breast. He will scream and cry when i try to get him to latch. What are some ways to get him back latching on as I would really love to contiue beeastfeeding?

  2. I’m four months postpartum and trying to wean off the nipple shield. She successfully latches 40% of the time without it. The more I try to wean, I’m experiencing uterine cramping. Is this related? I’ve only had one menstration cycle with blood since the birth of my first daughter in January.

    • Hi Rachel – Nipple stimulation is one of the factors that cause cramps, so it is possible that weaning off the nipple shield is causing your cramps. While postpartum cramps are normal, we recommend that you reach out to your health care professional for advice on how to deal with the pain. Keep up the good work, mama!

  3. Hi,I’m almost 5 months postpartum and i am experiencing uterine cramping,I’ve didnt had my menstration cycle since I had my baby in April.does breastfeeding itself cause cramps?

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