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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

How to Deal with Breastfeeding and Afterpains

How to Deal with Breastfeeding and Afterpains #birth After what can often be an uncomfortable third trimester (or maybe even entire pregnancy) and then the hard work of labor and delivery, there’s certainly not a single mom on the planet who wants another round of intense pain or discomfort right after her baby is born. However, after a second or subsequent labor and delivery, many moms deal with strong afterpains. These afterpains are most coming during breastfeeding, too. What is the best way to cope with breastfeeding and afterpains?

What Are Afterpains?

Before you can learn to cope with after pains, it is helpful to know a little bit about them. Afterpains are caused by the uterus contracting back to its original size and shape after being so stretched during pregnancy. Though they usually aren’t felt after a first birth, they are present after subsequent births.

Oxytocin, the same hormone that causes labor pains and the rush of love moms often feel for their new babies, is also responsible for after pains. Since oxytocin is released during breastfeeding, moms often experience afterpains while nursing their babies. Breastfeeding may also make the pains more intense.

While some sources claim that afterpains get worse after each pregnancy, this is not always the case. Personally, I have had five babies. The pains after my second were strong, but after my third, they were almost unbearable. However, after my fourth baby, I had very mild afterpains and those after my fifth baby were similar to what I experienced after my second child. Just like labors are all different, so are afterpains!

How to Deal with After Pains

After the exertion of birth, it can be a real challenge to deal with afterpains during breastfeeding. Thankfully there are different things that can be done to lessen the pain or just cope with it more effectively.

  • Keep your bladder empty by drinking enough fluids and using the restroom often. This helps your uterus work more efficiently.
  • Try the pain management techniques that helped you during labor. This might be deep breathing, holding someone’s hand, gently rubbing your belly, or even vocalizing.
  • Consider using an herbal remedy. Many moms, myself included, have found relief from products like AfterEase from WishGarden or Contract Ease from TriLight Health.
  • If the pain is very intense, ibuprofen may be needed. Talk with your health care provider about appropriate doses and what to do if it doesn’t provide enough relief.
  • Keep the right perspective towards afterpains. While they can be very hard to deal with, they are doing important work.
  • Get enough rest. Afterpains can tax your body, and since you are already recovering from the hard work of labor, you may need more rest than you realize.
  • Eat nourishing foods to give your body strength for the work it needs to do.
  • Get through an afterpain before breastfeeding your baby. Occasionally, just hearing my baby cry would trigger an afterpain. When that happened, I would ask my husband to hold the newborn so I could get through the pain before breastfeeding.

If you’ve had more than one baby, what were your afterpains like? Did you have to use some coping strategies while dealing with breastfeeding and afterpains?

adapted photo credit: amrufm via photopin cc

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Kristen is a Christian, wife to her high school sweetheart, and mother to a growing brood of sweet little people. She spends her days keeping the home, homeschooling, making real food, gardening, blogging, and working from home as a Lilla Rose consultant, often with a little person on her lap wanting to nurse. You can find her at Smithspirations and on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.


  1. My oldest 2 are 16 months apart, and they were so intense I chose to medicate for a day or two. I’m pregnant again (5 yrs later) and I’ll be curious how they compare. My nurse said that they are much worse when babies are so close together…

    • Kristen Smith says

      I hear you on the medication, Lacey. They can be awful.

      My midwife (who had eight children herself) has been attending births for 40+ years and she’s only told me that they will vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. I haven’t heard that they are worse when babies are close together, but I could see how that might be the case. I hope that yours are mild! Definitely check out the two herbal remedies I linked to. I liked using those first and then resorting to ibuprofen if they got really bad.

      Best wishes for a safe labor and delivery! Congratulations on your third!

  2. Everyone I know and have talked to including myself had the afterpains after their first. Where did this research come from that states it only comes in subsequent births?

    • Kristen Smith says

      Hi ES,

      That’s interesting! It’s actually completely opposite for me. Every doctor, midwife, doula, and mom I’ve spoken with (and I think everything I’ve ever read) has said that they aren’t usually felt after a first birth. That’s also how it was for me.

      However, after re-reading my post, I should have used the term “usually” when referring to after pains not being felt after a first birth. That’s my mistake and I’ll be glad to fix it.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Mine get worse with each baby. Incredibly worse. I’m on baby #8 and am not looking forward to it. Ibuprofen doesn’t help either.


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