Jan 08, 2011 No Comments
Thought you’d felt the last of those contractions? Unfortunately, they don’t end immediately with delivery – and neither does the discomfort they cause. Those so-called afterpains are triggered by the contractions of the utreus as it shrink (from about two and a one third pounds to just a couple of ounces) and makes its normal descent back into the pelvis following the birth of your baby. You can keep track of the shrinking size of your uterus by pressing lightly below your navel. By the end of six weeks, you probably won’t feel it at all.
Afterpains can definitely be a pain, but they do good work. Besides helping the uterus find its way back to its usual size and location, those contraction help slow normal postpartum bleeding. They’re likely to be more of a pain in women whose uterine muscles are lacking in tone because of previous birth or excessive stretching (as with a multiple pregnancy). Afterpains can be more pronounced during nursing, when contraction-stimulating oxytocin is released (a good thing, actually, since it mean your uterus is shrinking faster) and/or if you’ve had intravenous Pitocin (oxytocin) following delivery.
The pains should subside naturally within four to seven days. In the meantime, acetaminophen (Tylenol) should provide relief. If it doesn’t, or if the pain persist for more than a week, see your practitioner to rule out other postpartum problems, including infection.