With the birth, the pain is not always over. Postpartum contractions occur in the days after delivery and are triggered by breastfeeding, among other things. Find out why contractions are an important process in the body, how you can gently relieve the pain and why breathing away contractions is still a helpful technique after birth.
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Phenomenon After Labor – Why You Still Have Pain After Birth
Every expectant mother prepares intensively for labor, the birth process and the first moments with the baby. A lesser-known issue surrounding childbirth is postpartum contractions, which can occur in the hours and days following birth.
They are the sign that your body is returning to its non-pregnant state. But why exactly do postpartum contractions occur? Is every woman affected? What strength is normal?
Also, discover which post-pregnancy pain reliever is recommended and how the technique of breathing through contractions can help even when you’re already holding your baby in your arms.
What Are After Contractions And Where Do They Come From?
There are many reasons why you may not feel fully recovered right after the birth of your baby, and you may be in pain. You may have to have an episiotomy, which takes time to heal, or you may be facing the normal healing process of surgery after a C-section.
The so-called afterpains are also part of the discomfort in the days and weeks after birth. The reason for this is quite simple: your uterus shrinks back to exactly the size it was before pregnancy.
During this process, lochia is also discharged. The uterus cleans itself from all the remains of the placenta. For all this, your muscles have to exert quite a bit of force. The resulting pain is not unlike strong menstrual cramps and actual contractions.
Breathing away contractions, which you learned in preparation for the birth, therefore also helps in the days after the birth. Usually, postpartum contractions last two to three days. However, some women report pain that lasts for a whole week. As with many pregnancy and birth issues, the experience varies from woman to woman.
Abdominal Pain During Breastfeeding: Is This Normal?
Postpartum pain is triggered primarily by a hormone called oxytocin, which occurs during breastfeeding. Oxytocin is instrumental in providing milk flow. A side effect of the hormone is strong contractions in the uterus.
This causes you to feel a pulling sensation in your abdomen during breastfeeding or immediately afterwards, which can sometimes grow into severe pain. If the pain is exceptionally severe, do not hesitate to discuss the issue with your doctor. After eight weeks at the latest, you should no longer feel any afterpains at all, not even when breastfeeding.
Do Contractions Only Start With The Second Child?
The rumor that labor pains only affect women who have already given birth to more than one child is very widespread. In fact, for most women, afterpains present themselves only as a mild pain with the first baby. With each subsequent birth, the pain becomes stronger.
The reason for this is that after each pregnancy, the uterus has to work a little harder to return to its original size and shape. However, even the first birth can bring afterpains. This is a completely normal process.
Women who have had a multiple pregnancy are also particularly affected by afterpains. With two or more babies, the uterus stretches more than with just one child. Therefore, it is also a greater effort for the body to return to normal.
What Really Helps Against Afterpains?
Midwives in particular deal a lot with the question of how the pain of afterpains can be alleviated. After all, you should enjoy your first days with the newborn baby and not spend the time in the postpartum period breathing contractions every hour again.
Even apart from the classic painkillers after pregnancy, there are some tips and tricks with which you can best get the after contractions under control.
Heat is one of the best remedies for cramps and also helps with after contractions within a very short time. A hot water bottle or a warmed cherry pit pillow should always be ready to be placed on the abdomen when after contractions occur.
Sometimes contractions manifest themselves as back pain. Here, too, the applied warmth helps. Alternatively, warm showers can also help. Under no circumstances should you treat yourself to a full bath during the postpartum period, even if the temptation to relax in this way is great. Warm baths are only safe after the postpartum period.
A tea made of fennel, anise, marjoram, and caraway is considered a successful home remedy for afterpains that occur during breastfeeding. The tea also stimulates milk production and relaxes you from the inside out.
The tea mixture is now available under the name “lactation tea” or “breastfeeding tea” in many health food stores, drugstores, and supermarkets. In addition, most midwives have homeopathic remedies for afterpains, which they will be happy to recommend to you on request.
Regular Trips To The Toilet
A small but helpful tip: Go to the toilet very regularly in the first few days after the birth. A full bladder increases the effect of the contractions even more.
Breathing through contractions works just as effectively during postpartum as it does before and during labor. Use the same breathing technique you learned when preparing for birth. As soon as a contraction is felt, exhale long and with concentration until the contraction subsides.
Painkillers After Pregnancy: What Is Allowed?
Taking a painkiller during pregnancy or while breastfeeding is associated with skepticism for many new mothers: How do the pain-relieving ingredients affect the baby or breast milk? Are painkillers allowed to be taken at all after pregnancy?
The answer to these questions depends on the drug in question. Over-the-counter painkillers such as those containing the active ingredient paracetamol are generally safe for both pregnant and breastfeeding women and are therefore the first choice for afterpains.
Before taking, be sure to read the drug information carefully, especially the section around rules for pregnant women. Keep the dosage of the painkiller for after contractions as low as possible and do not take any tablets over a longer period of time without discussing this with your doctor.
The active ingredient ibuprofen is also permitted for breastfeeding women. As with paracetamol, only a very small amount reaches the baby through breast milk, which according to several studies has no negative effects. Your baby can therefore continue to enjoy all the benefits of breast milk.
Although low-dose painkillers are relatively safe after pregnancy and while breastfeeding, you should only take a few tablets as possible. For more severe pain, a combination of medications and relief options such as heat and contractions to breathe is the right choice.
Don’t Be Afraid Of After Contractions
Fear and anxiety when feeling after contractions occur mainly because many women are not even aware of this natural process. Even those who did not feel any subsequent pain with their first baby are often completely surprised by the afterpains during another birth.
However, if you know about it, you can use the tips for pain relief to prepare yourself even better for the postpartum period. And after just a few days, the last contraction is guaranteed to subside.