Why Does Breastfeeding Sometimes Cause Cramps?

In the days immediately after giving birth to your baby, you may experience intense, menstrual-like cramps while breastfeeding. Here's why.

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 Cramping During Breastfeeding Occur?

The uterus is a muscle, and each pregnancy over-stretches the muscle. Nipple stimulation during breastfeeding causes a hormone known as 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 About Postpartum Cramping?

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. 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. Or, sign up for extra support and resources from your Medela Family app!