Postpartum cramps which are also known as afterbirth pains happen due to contractions on the uterus walls as your uterus shrinks back to the size it was before pregnancy. This process is also known as involution. These pains are mild and ease with time if you just had your first pregnancy.
The intensity of the pains depends on the number of pregnancies you have had before. The cramps will be intense the first day after giving birth and should be gone after a few days although it will take your uterus around 7 weeks to return to its normal size.
Breast feeding can increase the intensity of these pains since your baby’s sucking triggers oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that can cause contractions. The contractions may cause pain but they also help in reducing postpartum blood loss. While nursing avoid placing the baby over your belly may not prevent relief but it will provide comfort.
If you experience afterbirth pain, sleeping with a pillow under your belly may help ease the pain. You may also massage your lower belly gently. Dip a cotton cloth in warm water and place it over the lower belly for 2 minutes. Repeat this 5 to 8 times every day.
Try and pee often even when you don’t feel like it since a full bladder will displace the uterus and prevent it from contracting as it should. Inform the doctor or your caregiver about you discomfort and let them prescribe tablets that will help relief the pain.
You should also contact your care giver or doctor if the pain lasts for more than 7 days since it could be an infection. Afterbirth pains are normal and the cramping will stop after 3 to 4 days but the contractions will ease with time.
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