After birth, it’s not uncommon to experience ‘after birth pains’ i.e. postpartum contractions. This pain is experienced as your uterus retracts (shrinks) to its pre-pregnancy size. The level of pain endured by women will vary. Some will feel almost nothing and others will find they're curled over and unable to talk. For around 7-10 days post birth, these contractions are likely to spur at random times, however they’ll usually ramp up when you’re breastfeeding, because it releases oxytocin, which causes your uterus to contract.

What are they?

Postpartum contractions feel similar to cramps. They’re simply indications that your uterus is contracting and shrinking back to its usual size. This is a normal part of recovery.

How long do they last?

Usually speaking, most women will experience postpartum contractions for around 7 to 10 days following the birth. The contractions tend to be the most painful around the second or third day and from here they should ease off.

What to look out for if they continue?

It’s advised to contact your GP if you notice any of the following;

  • If the contractions continue for more than 10 days following birth.
  • If you notice the odour of your lochia is offensive or just unusual.
  • If you develop a fever.
  • If the pain does not dilute with pain relief.
  • If your postpartum contractions feel less like muscle cramps and more like sharp/stabbing pains.

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