Breastfeeding & Having Menstrual Pain

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Cramping and bleeding of the uterus can happen to any woman postpartum, no matter how many pregnancies she has had. Menstrual-like pain can be intense and make it difficult to perform daily tasks and care for your newborn. This makes it imperative to understand how to treat menstrual-like pain due to breastfeeding.

Definition

Cramping related to breast feeding can occur after birth as your uterus contracts back to the size and location it was in before pregnancy. Pain can be intense, but should taper off and become less noticeable after about six weeks. Menstrual-like pain can get more intense with each pregnancy because second-time mothers may not have as much uterine muscle tone as first-time mothers.

Why it Occurs

This pain can develop during breastfeeding because your newborn’s sucking motions will cause your body to release the oxytocin hormone. Oxytocin helps the muscles in the uterus contract and encourages the uterus to return to its regular pre-pregnancy size. These contractions also help to reduce the amount of blood you lose after having a baby and shorten the length of time that you spot or bleed.

Treatments

Urinate as often as possible, even if you don’t feel like you need to go. The BabyCenter website explains that a full bladder prevents the uterus from contracting completely, which can intensify or prolong pain. Massage or knead your belly gently to help relieve pressure and cramping. Take ibuprofen, acetaminophen or any prescription pain reliever provided by your doctor. Lay face-down on your bed with a pillow tucked beneath the lower part of your belly to help relieve pressure and pain.

Considerations

Call your doctor if the menstrual-like pain does not begin to lessen after a few days or is intense or you experience an extreme amount of bleeding. These could be signs of a more serious complication, such as an infection. Keep breastfeeding even if you develop this type of pain. Breastfeeding not only is beneficial to your newborn; the cramping it triggers will actually help your stomach become flatter.

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