Cramping after birth
Cramping after birth

Surprise! Just when you thought you’d felt your last contraction, the constant cramping you felt after giving birth – and still continue to feel – probably has you thinking-  When will the pain stop?  Here’s what’s going on.

Week 1

  • Your uterus is contracting as it shrinks back down to size, so the pain will be less intense than when it was pushing out a baby, but enough to be uncomfortable. 
  • Keep in mind that every contraction is helping to slow your postnatal bleeding as well. 
  • Breastfeeding intensifies the cramps, but there’s a good reason for it. Every time your baby latches on and sucks a chemical called oxytocin is released. Oxytocin induces contractions and shrinks your uterus faster. So remember that every time you breastfeed, you’re one suck closer to recovery. 
  • Paracetamol (eg Panadol) or Ibuprofen (eg Nurofen) can be taken to ease the pain. Dr's recommends that Ibuprofen be taken in low doses and only for a short time. Check with your doctor for information on dosages and any other questions you may have. The pain should subside after a week or so.

Week 2

The contraction-like cramping you experienced after delivery (which, by the way, gets worse with subsequent deliveries – hooray!) should have subsided by now. But if you’re still feeling afterpains – especially if it’s a relentless ache in your lower abdomen – call your doctor to rule out an infection or another serious complication.

Week 3-4

Be sure to call your doctor if you’re still feeling cramping in your abdomen.


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This article was written for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading pregnancy and parenting resource from sources including Queensland Health.

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