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.

17 thoughts on “Why Does Breastfeeding Sometimes Cause Cramps?

  1. Hello I’m breastfeeding my 9 month old baby but I started getting this menstrual like craps but no period. I tried my tubes after our last baby. Should I be worry? I’m i facing a cyst or ovaries infection? Please help me I need answers. Tia

    • Hi, Montserrat. Usually, cramping like this is due to your uterus contracting back to its pre-pregnancy size. But, if you’re concerned, check with your doctor to get the peace of mind you need.

  2. I am breasting a 6 month old baby and i experience abdomen cramps,am i pregnant again or my periods are about to start? I breastfeed every day and night.

    • Hi, Germe. Either of those could be the cause of your cramps. We’d recommend reaching out to your doctor to check on it just in case, as normal postpartum cramps are usually through well before the 6-month mark.

  3. I am breastfeeding a 6 month old baby and i experience abdomen cramps,am i pregnant again or my periods are about to start? I breastfeed every day and night.

  4. Hello my baby will clock one this month, and I have seen my period six months after delivery, and now am feeling this painful cramps. What could be the cause. Playing help. Thank you very much as you reply.

    • Hi, Enny. Cramps related to breastfeeding usually stop shortly after childbirth. If you’re still having issues one year later, we recommend you reach out to your personal care physician for personalized medical advice.

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