Postpartum cramps, commonly known as afterbirth pains, occur as a side effect of a process involving contraction and shrinking back of the uterus to its regular size as before pregnancy. This is very common among all new mothers after the delivery. However, the problem varies for individual bodies.
Post Delivery Physical Changes
The post delivery physical changes might include bleeding and sore muscles. After-pains, commonly known as contractions, shrivel the uterus for many days after delivery. This process might last from 6-8 weeks. Sore muscles commonly develop in areas like neck, jaw and arms. The soreness, commonly, goes away in a few days. However, soreness might last for 2-4 weeks and might appear occasionally for about 2 months.
Another common problem after a normal delivery is vaginal soreness that includes numbness, pain and discomfort. The problem might be worse if you have had an episiotomy or perinea tear. In case of a caesarean (C-section), pain might exist in the lower abdomen and can be relieved by a medication for a week or two.
Yet another physical change post delivery is breast engorgement. This is an auto-generated process wherein the breast gets filled with milk. This can lead to swelling and discomfort and can be relieved by a hot shower, cold and warm compress.
Postpartum Cramps – Types
The most common types of postpartum cramps experienced include:
- Postpartum Leg Cramps
This is a common problem that occurs due to carrying the extra weight for complete nine months. This calls for taking sufficient rest to get relief from these cramps. Other reasons include potassium deficiency and loss of electrolytes with breastfeeding.
- Postpartum Stomach Cramps
These occur as a result of physical changes that your body undergoes. Getting back to normal also involves numerous changes in body. Abdominal cramps occur due to uterus contraction and heavy vaginal bleeding post delivery.
- Lochia Cramps
Lochia, commonly known as vaginal flow, might continue for 2-6 weeks post delivery. The bleeding, however, reduces after a few weeks from delivery. Also, the colour of blood changes from dark red to yellow or pink besides getting thinner. Excessive exertion to the body might, however, increase the blood flow again with huge clots. This implies that you need to rest your body.
- Uterus Contraction Cramps
Abdominal cramps due to uterus contraction are generally severe two days post delivery. Normally, the pain reduces from the third day as the uterus begins to get back to its normal size. For first-time mothers, uterine muscle tone is better thus causing better uterus contraction. This further helps in doing away with the postpartum pains more easily and quickly.
However, the postpartum cramps during the second delivery are more severe and go on getting worse after successive pregnancies.
Postpartum Cramps – Tips
Read on the following tips to reduce postpartum cramps:
- Try lying with face downwards with a pillow placed under the belly.
- Consult your doctor and ask for a pain relieving medicine.
- Make it a routine to pee more often, even if you do not feel the urge. The underlying notion is that a full bladder makes it difficult for the uterus to contract.
- Take more of orange juice or oranges. Oranges contain good amount of potassium and can, therefore, ease cramps occurring due to deficiency of the mineral.
- Another technique helpful in easing cramps is alternate cold-hot compressions. Apply cold compresses followed by alternate hot water compressions.
- Include ginger tea as a routine drink for stomach cramps. This would work for being an anti-inflammatory drink.
- Stress more on breastfeeding. The oxy-toxins released by the body during breastfeed aid uterus contraction thus reducing the blood loss as well.
- Take your caregiver’s or partner’s help by asking them to give a gentle massage over the abdomen. Ask them to massage on circular motions around the naval. This would stimulate uterus contractions thus making it firmer.
- Include meditation as a regular practice a few days from the delivery. This would not only help relieve the abdominal cramps but also aid uterus contraction.
Most importantly, allow your body to recover from childbirth with proper care and rest. Avoid exertion because staying healthy is very important for healthy parenthood.