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Cynthia FlynnAfterbirth Pains
by Cynthia Flynn, CNM, Ph.D.

Q. How long do these contractions last!? My daughter (third child) is now three days old. I am still having contractions all day long, not only when she nurses. They are pretty painful. How long will these afterpains last?

A. Ick, I just hate those afterpains. The answer is that the cramps will last as long as your uterus is not cramped down tight, which is harder to do with each succeeding pregnancy. It's weird, but the reason you cramp is that you're not cramped!

You can help the uterus to stay cramped by:

  1. vigorously massaging it, like the nurses did if you had a hospital birth

  2. nursing as much as your baby will do it

  3. limiting your activity to nursing and sleeping, just getting out of bed for bathroom and shower

  4. sleeping on your tummy with a rolled up finger towel or receiving blanket putting pressure on your uterus.

Beyond that, there is medication that will help it to cramp up. Meanwhile, ibuprophen is the drug of choice.

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