Childbirth Afterpains

Topic Overview

Afterpains are sharp abdominal (belly) pains that occur in the first few days after childbirth. Although they may cause some discomfort, afterpains help reduce uterine bleeding and help shrink the uterus back to its prepregnancy size. Afterpains are most noticeable during breast-feeding. Breast-feeding triggers the release of oxytocin, which in turn causes the uterus to contract. These pains usually begin to subside by the third day after childbirth.

If afterpains are severe, your health professional can prescribe a safe and effective pain medicine.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised November 2, 2011

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