The process of reproducing can be really weird. There are many strange things that happen to your body, not only while you're pregnant, but postpartum, as well. Random cramps, fluids, mood swings, body changes — you name it. And strange things definitely happen while you're breastfeeding. While you may be used to some postpartum cramps, if it happens specifically when you feed your baby, you may be wondering, why am I cramping while breastfeeding? Is this a good thing or a bad thing, and is this normal?
It is totally normal, and many women experience this cramping feeling while breastfeeding. Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper the cramping comes from the oxytocin — the hormone that causes uterine contractions in labor — that’s released while you’re breastfeeding. According to the Medela website, because your uterus (which is a muscle) is overstretched during pregnancy and childbirth, the oxytocin causes a contraction of “all the smooth muscles and helps your uterus contract back into the pre-pregnancy shape and size.” These contractions while breastfeeding also help reduce postpartum blood loss, which is another perk.
If you’re not feeling any cramping while breastfeeding — or not breastfeeding at all — not to worry. Bohn says in an email interview, “The uterus naturally [goes back to normal] even without breastfeeding.”
Things you can do before you even leave the hospital to help this process along — and to make the cramping less intense — include asking for a lower-abdomen massage, or laying on your stomach with a pillow under your lower abdomen, the Medela website noted. Bohn notes that the cramping usually only lasts a few days, but if the pain gets very severe or is associated with heavy bleeding, you should seek medical attention.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, continue to reap the health benefits, and enjoy this bonding time with your little one. Don’t sweat any cramps you may feel while you’re feeding them. Unless you’re feeling severe pain, and the cramping lasts for more than a few days, cramping is completely normal and part of the healing process your body goes through postpartum.