Once you’ve had your baby, the pain in your uterus doesn’t stop. Known as after pains, you might experience severe cramping and pain as your uterus shrinks back to its normal size. First-time mothers typically don’t have as much pain after delivery because their muscles haven’t been stretched out several times yet. The pains typically get worse after each birth, as your uterus has to contract more to get those stretched out muscles back where they belong.
The good news is there are ways to cope with the pain. As a mom to many children, I’ve tried many strategies. Here are the 16 that worked best for me.
16 Be Prepared Mentally
Being prepared mentally, just as you were for labor, helps make the pains more bearable. You can use your breathing techniques to help with after pains. Relaxing during the pain instead of tensing up will help.
Remembering the purpose behind the pains helps a lot. You are cramping for an important reason. Your uterus has to return to normal size.
One of the best ways to cope with the pain is to stay rested. Your body needs to rest after delivery. Make it a point to lie down. If you can’t stay in bed, head to the couch.
Get comfortable, and plan on staying seated or lying down for a long time. Snuggle up with your baby, and enjoy some much-needed bonding. If you overdo it, you’ll feel even worse.
14 Arrange for Help with Your Other Kids
As a mom to many, rest can’t happen if no one is around to help. The other kids still need to eat, still need diaper changes, and still get bored. Find someone to help you with your others for a few days.
If your spouse can’t get time off from work, you might have to think more creatively. Is there a family member you can call on? Could your spouse drop the kids off at a friend’s house and then pick them up again in the evening? You could even call in a babysitter.
You’ll be able to rest more and cope with your after pains if you aren’t chasing around your other children right after delivery.
Ice can help numb the pain! Bags of frozen peas contour nicely to the post-delivery bump. Just be sure to put a towel between your skin and the ice. That way you don’t wind up with frostbite from the ice pack on top of after pains.
12 Heated Rice Packs
Alternating between ice and heat helped me a lot. I used a simple rice sock because it seemed to fit to my skin better than a standard heating pad. They were quick to heat up in the microwave, and stayed warm for about twenty minutes—the perfect amount of time to heat treat pain.
11 Alternate Pain Killers
Sometimes the pain is so intense that you’ll need some relief from medication. I’ve found the best relief from alternating Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen. The two drugs help with different types of pain, and the combination worked well for me. Be sure to check with your care provider for proper dosing.
10 Herbal Treatments
If you aren’t comfortable using standard pain medication, there are many herbal alternatives. My midwife recommended arnica, and it helped take the edge off. Another home remedy that helps is a liquid calcium and magnesium supplement.
The best natural treatment I ever tried was called Contract Ease. Concocted from herbs such as crampbark and black haw, it tasted like licking a tree. Nevertheless, it definitely took away the after pains following my seventh child.
9 Soak in a Hot Bath
Soaking in a nice, hot bath can help with after pains. The heat can soothe your sore muscles, and help you relax. Be sure to ask your care provider if you have any restrictions to bathing. If you’ve had a C-section, you will probably need to wait until your stitches are out.
8 Nurse Frequently
Nursing makes your pains worse. That’s because hormones are flooding through your body. But, what you don't know is that nursing speeds up the cramping process too.
Nursing frequently will help your uterus to contract. It’ll hurt a ton while you’re in the process of nursing; I’m not going to sugar coat it. However, nursing will help your pain go away more quickly overall.
7 Skin to Skin Contact with Baby
Snuggling with your little one directly on your skin is beneficial for both of you. Skin-to-skin contact helps your mom hormones get all straightened out. That can help reduce postpartum depression and help you mentally cope with after pains.
If nothing else, lying around mostly naked will definitely keep you from overdoing things. It’s hard to do much when you’re scantily clad. Try to get some long chunks of skin-to-skin contact in every day for the first week.
6 Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can lead to muscle pain. Keep water close by, and sip frequently. You’ll make more milk, relieve some muscle pain, and feel better.
5 Keep Your Bladder Empty
Staying hydrated is important, but it also means your bladder will fill up. You need to make yourself pee a lot in the first few days. Even if you don’t feel like you have to go, try every two hours at a minimum. The pressure from a partially full bladder adds to the pain from delivery.
Many women feel almost instant relief after relieving themselves. The pressure disappears. Going pee really does help with the pain!
4 Prevent Constipation
Pressure can also build up in your bowels, adding to your after pains. That’s why it’s so important to prevent constipation after birth. There are many strategies to keep your bowels moving.
Many doctors routinely prescribe a stool softener after delivery. These will help keep your poop soft, and easier to push out. You should also make sure you’re eating a diet with an adequate amount of fiber.
Massage can help your abdomen get back to normal. Be prepared though, uterine massage is nothing like the relaxing massage experience you go into a spa for. Uterine massage hurts a lot, but it convinces a soggy uterus to start contracting and get back to where it belongs.
Many nurses do this right after birth and encourage women to do it to themselves. Your partner can also massage your uterus for you. This practice will get out all of your blood clots, and encourage your uterus to contract.
2 Belly Wrapping
Postpartum belly wrapping can help keep your uterus in contracting. Your muscles have spent the last nine months stretching, and now they’re returning to normal. Wrapping your belly with an ace bandage or a specially designed wrap will offer your poor muscles some support.
Ask your health care provider for recommendations for how long to wrap. She will also let you know when it’s safe to begin the practice. Many women begin just hours after birth.
1 Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red raspberry leaf is beneficial in the post-partum period. Studies have found that this herb encourages uterine strength and tone, and helps relieve cramps. It’s very helpful for women after delivery.
Additionally, the practice of drinking a hot cup of tea will help you relax. The heat will provide comfort internally.