Breastfeeding after-pains

Why you get some stomach pain sometimes when feeding, and what it means.

When you breastfeed your child in the first few days and weeks, you might notice some stomach pain. Admittedly, some women will find getting through the cracked-nipple phase so distracting they may not notice these pains, but if you do get them, don’t worry – they are perfectly normal.

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The ‘after-pains’ are caused by your uterus contracting. Part of the natural genius of breastfeeding – as well as being perfectly suited to your child’s nutritional needs – is that it helps trigger the body’s recovery from the birth. This includes helping the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size.

Understandably, this is likely to make your stomach twinge as the changes take place, and some of these pains might bring back memories of labour contractions. (Women do tend to experience more noticeable pain with subsequent babies rather than their first.)

If the pain continues to be rather severe but is only present after breastfeeding, then you shouldn’t worry, but do mention it to the midwife who makes post-natal visits, or your GP. If you have stomach pains most of the time and they seem unrelated to your feeding routine, then you should call your GP, just to make sure everything is healing as it should.

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Even breastfeeding for the first month after birth helps with the process of healing, as well as being great for your child. But if you can’t for some reason, don’t worry, your uterus will still contract, but probably not as quickly.

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