Birth, Postpartum

Cramping After Birth? Here’s How to Handle Postpartum Involution

For a majority of your life, you’ve anticipated cramps. Menstrual cycle cramps you learned about in junior high health class and have experienced for years. In pregnancy, you’re prepared to have braxton hicks cramps and eventually the labor pains. Now that the baby is here, are you in the clear? Cramping after birth can be surprising.

One thing you may not know is that afterbirth cramps are also normal. If you’re like most women you’re wondering “why didn’t anyone tell me I’d have cramps after giving birth!” Whether you’re currently pregnant or finding this article because you’re experiencing afterbirth pains, I’m here to say yes, it sucks and yes, it will get better!

(Skip to the end if you’re just wondering what you can do to ease this pain!)

You can also listen to me open up about all things postpartum with Mama J on this episode of “January’s Podcast”

why am i having cramps still after i had my baby

This post may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission from any purchases made from links on this page.

Why Do I Still Have Cramping After Birth?

Cramps after giving birth are called involution. This is the process of your uterus returning to normal size and is often marked by short, sharp pains. Throughout your pregnancy, your uterus grows around 25X its’ normal size. These cramps after giving birth are helping the uterus to shrink back down. While the process usually takes around 6 weeks, you likely won’t feel these pains for that long. As the days pass, the cramping will reduce and then subside.

Related: Delivering the Placenta

Why Do I Cramp More When Breastfeeding?

Involution (uterine cramps) are caused by the release of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is released during breastfeeding which means the cramping is likely stronger during a nursing session. When you start breastfeeding, the oxytocin is released which triggers the uterine cramping. It’s definitely amazing how our bodies work like that (but that doesn’t make the pain any more enjoyable!)

breastfeeding makes me cramp after having my baby

The Cramping Is Usually Worse in Subsequent Pregnancies

Some of my clients shared that they didn’t notice these cramps much with their first, but they were surprised how strong they were with their second or third child (or beyond!) Most people agree that the afterbirth cramping increases with each postpartum and this is thought to be because of the uterine muscle tone. After the first, the uterine muscles are likely still strong and able to contract more efficiently. In each subsequent postpartum, it takes more effort for the uterine muscles to contract and, therefore, you may have more noticeable cramping.

How Do I Get Rid of Cramping After Birth?!

I wish I could tell you there is a magic pill you could take while doing a magic yoga move and chanting a magic phrase. If I told you that, though, I’d be lying.

When it comes to afterbirth cramping, there are ways to alleviate the pain, though.

  • Pain Relievers (Medicine): Whether you’re at the hospital or at home, you likely have access to OTC pain relief. Check with your provider on dosage if you are breastfeeding.

  • After Ease (Liquid Drops): If you prefer to avoid medication but still want relief, try a liquid drop like After Ease. After ease can be added to your water and is created for postpartum moms to find relief from cramping

  • Heating Pad: Whether it’s the break and heat pad from the hospital, a favorite heating pad from home, or a homemade rice sock, finding a way to put heat on the painful area can help minimize the pain you’re experiencing

  • Deep breathing: Remember that breathing practice you did for birth? It can come in handy again as you breathe through the cramping afterpains. Purposeful, focused breathing!

  • Pee/empty bladder: Don’t avoid urinating!

    RELATED: The First Pee After Birth

  • Belly binding: Belly Binding is a technique that includes wrapping the abdomen with cloth to provide support for healing. Some believe this helps the uterus contract and the pressure can be helpful in alleviating afterbirth pains

No Part of Postpartum Needs to Be Taboo: Even Cramping After Birth

If no one told you about after birth cramping, it can be shocking to realize that even after birth you may still feel contractions. Here at Postpartum Together we believe that NO PART of postpartum should be taboo and we are here to talk about it!

Want a safe space to talk about ALL THE THINGS life after baby? Need a judgement free community? Do you want to learn about the changes that have happened in you- mentally, physically, relationally, identity and more?

Postpartum Together has a number of small groups to help you navigate your transitions after birth. Get the details and secure your spot here.

Postpartum

Worst Massage of Your Life: Fundal Massage After Giving Birth

What is a Fundal Massage?

how to stop it from hurting when i pee after birth

 

When the Nurse Comes In Right After Birth…

A fundal massage, also known as a uterine massage, is a normal part of after-delivery care.  This typically happens shortly after birth and can continue for hours or days depending on the needs of the patient.

Who doesn’t want a massage after the labor of bringing another human into the world?

When Do You Get a Fundal Massage?

A uterine massage often happens while you are doing skin to skin with your newborn and is done in order to prevent postpartum hemorrhaging. Chances are, if you’ve had massages throughout your life, most of them were not near your pelvic bone and uterus. This massage is also described as “rougher” than massages you may be used to as your doctor, nurse or midwife works to stimulate the uterus.

Stimulating the uterus to contract is important to help rid the body of blood clots and help it to move into the post-birth processes needed for recovery. Your medical provider will also place one hand in the vagina to support the uterus.

The name “fundal massage” comes from “fundus” which is the top of your uterus. The uterus is an organ in which the fertilized egg is implanted. The uterus grows throughout pregnancy and upon delivery, will transition back to its’ normal size.

uterine massage after giving birth

Postpartum Hemorrhaging

Postpartum hemorrhaging refers to the excess loss of blood following childbirth and occurs in 1-5% of birthing women. Hemorrhaging causes a drop in blood pressure, which the body is not prepared for. Fundal/Uterine massages as well as other preventive measures are done to decrease the chances of hemorrhaging after giving birth. Fundal Massages happen after vaginal birth, cesarean birth, miscarriage and abortions. Any time that a pregnancy comes to an end, the uterus needs to contract and heal. You will likely receive fundal messages from your medical team (and if you don’t, it’s a good time to ask why you are not!) and you may be instructed on how to perform a uterine massage yourself.

Some women will only need uterine massages for the first couple of hours after birth. Some women will continue to receive these massages for a couple of days as the body discards blood and tissue following birth.

There are many aspects to care after childbirth and it is important to talk with your medical provider about what to expect and what kind of care you can anticipate. It is also important to talk to your support person about how to help you through birth and beyond.

Related: Postpartum Bleeding

Sources: The information for this post was gathered through anecdotal, stories shared by other moms, March of Dimes, Cochrane Library.

Birth, Postpartum

Peeing After Birth: What You Need to Know about the First Pee

 

how to pee after giving birth

 

The First Pee After Birth: I Did NOT Expect This!

Here at Postpartum Together, we’ve been talking about the unexpected parts of life after baby. We are usually prepared for birth, but there are many things that happen right after birth that can come as a surprise to new moms. One of those things is peeing after birth (or the first few days of peeing after baby) and how it can hurt and sting. We aren’t here to scare you about afterbirth, but to help you know what you can expect and to let you know you’re not the only one! I remember being shocked at how difficult it was for me to make it to the toilet the first couple of days after giving birth and how much I dreaded going to pee because it would sting so badly.

RELATED: Delivering the Placenta

Why Does Peeing After Birth Hurt?

Peeing After Vaginal Birth

Birth takes a toll on your lady parts. For women who deliver vaginally, there is often either an episiotomy or vaginal tearing.

Episiotomy: Surgical incision in the perineum during childbirth to enlarge the area baby passes through

Vaginal Tearing: Also known as perineal lacerations. This is tearing that occurs as the skin and tissue is unable to stretch enough for baby to pass through

Regardless of whether you have an episiotomy or have vaginal tearing as baby passes through, the skin and tissue is damaged in childbirth. This makes the area sensitive and can create open wounds. There is also swelling in this region which can contribute to the discomfort of peeing after birth. When you think about it- the swelling and tearing and wounding- it’s no surprise that there can be a burning sensation and pain when you pee.

Peeing After Belly/Cesarean Birth

It is also possible to experience painful pee after a cesarean birth. For those who push and labor for a vaginal birth but transition to cesarean, there may be damage- tearing and swelling- to the vagina from the laboring. Also, a catheter is often placed after a cesarean and the removal of that can cause painful urination.

How to Decrease Pain During Postpartum Pee

I don’t believe in magic solutions or the ONE MISSING STEP to fix your problems. The reality- for many women, peeing after baby is painful. It stings and burns and is a dreaded time. There’s no sugar coating that. However, there are some ways to help decrease that pain (and remember, it won’t last forever!)

  1. Peri bottle and warm water: A peri bottle is simply a bottle that you can fill with warm water and squirt at your crotch while you pee and after. Why? Because the pressure and water can help counteract the sting and allow you to pee more easily, plus a squirt after can clean you up without needing to wipe. No one wants to put toilet paper on that area right after birth. You can get a simple peri bottle like this one or a fancy pants one like this.

  2. Pain Relief:Decreasing swelling and alleviating pain are a part of afterbirth. For your vaginal damage, these are important parts of healing. First, pain reliever. Talk to your medical provider about what dosing is safe right after birth, but you should be able to take pain reliever. Second, ice pads. Cooling will help alleviate pain and reduce the swelling from tearing and bruising. You can purchase ice packs to put in your mesh undies, or you can make padsicles.

    RELATED: DIY Padsicle How-To

  3. Positioning: Believe it or not, the way you are seated on the toilet can have an impact on how you pee. Leaning your body forward can help position the area to be more relaxed. A foot stool allows you to lean forward, prop your legs and create a more natural flow. Foot stools are highly recommended for both pee and poop after birth (and all of the time!) Plus, it’s nice to have on hand once potty-training begins so it’s a great investment! Want the easy-to-stock-up Amazon List? See all the items recommended for pee (and poop) after baby here!

  4. Go in the shower/bath: Throw out your typical opinion of peeing in the shower. Sometimes the counter of warm water surrounding you is very helpful for those first few pees. Peeing in the bath? I know. It’s pushing boundaries, but if you can lay in the bath (get a sitz bath?!) and then pee right before getting out, it’s not that bad. And it can provide a lot of relief for that burn/sting sensation in the early days.

woman pee in shower after birth

Complications to Peeing After Birth that You Need to Be Aware Of

Most of the time, burning and pain while peeing subsides after a few days or weeks. As the body works to heal itself after birth, swelling decreases and tears/stitching heals and with that comes more “normal” urination. However, some women can experience UTIs after birth and it’s important to know when to seek medical advice. (I am not a medical provider. I am a mom, a researcher, a coach. My goal is to help you have the information so you can seek your medical provider if needed.) 

Signs of a UTI After Birth

Pregnancy increases risks of UTIs and the fear of painful pee can cause women to hold it in which can increase risk of UTIs. It is important to find a way to comfortably (as much as possible) pee after birth so that you can take in adequate fluids and not hold in your urine.

(Info sourced from Americanpregnancy.org )

  • Pain or burning (discomfort) when urinating

  • The need to urinate more often than usual

  • A feeling of urgency when you urinate

  • Blood or mucus in the urine

  • Cramping or pain in the lower abdomen

  • Pain during sexual intercourse

  • Chills, fever, sweats, leaking of urine (incontinence)

  • Waking up from sleep to urinate

  • Change in the amount of urine, either more or less

  • Urine that looks cloudy, smells foul or unusually strong

  • Pain, pressure, or tenderness in the area of the bladder

  • If bacteria spreads to the kidneys you may experience back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

RELATED: Pelvic Floor in Postpartum

Momma- delivering the baby is a huge feat! Don’t be surprised if there are still some things that are uncomfortable- we never want to scare you (it doesn’t last forever!) but make sure you aren’t totally shocked by life after baby!

This post includes affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission from anything you purchase. They don’t give us much, but hey.

Birth, Postpartum

Birthing The Placenta?! What Comes After Having Your Baby

What is This New Organ in Your Body?

No big deal, the placenta is just an extra organ your body grows along with baby. Yes, your body is THAT incredible- it grows an additional organ! This is what nourishes your baby throughout pregnancy. The umbilical cord connects your baby to the placenta as it delivers oxygen and nutrients to your baby.

It is a protector- filtering out harmful substances and waste and eventually passing on antibodies to your baby. This organ is also responsible for producing a number of hormones throughout your pregnancy (this is a reason why you can have a hormone “crash” after delivery). The placenta is usually attached to the side or top of your uterus throughout the duration of your pregnancy (Sometimes it is attached to the front of the stomach called anterior placenta.) Once you deliver your baby, the placenta must follow as well.after you deliver baby you then must deliver the placenta

When Do You Deliver the Placenta?

Once your baby has arrived, you will still feel mild contractions. This is because the uterus is working to separate your placenta from the uterine wall and move it through your birth canal for delivery. This is often referred to as the “third stage of labor.” The “afterbirth” may come quickly within a few minutes of birth or could take up to half an hour.

Your provider may assist in this delivery by gently pulling on the umbilical cord and/or kneading/massaging your uterus to help it move while coaching you through light pushing and breathing it out. Your placenta will move through the birthing canal with a gush of blood at which point your provider will inspect the placenta to ensure it has all been removed.

If you deliver via cesarean birth, your doctor will remove the placenta before closing your incisions. Your doctor will likely massage the top of your uterus to encourage it to contract.

RELATED: Bleeding After Birth

Does it Hurt to Deliver the Placenta?

While you will probably continue to feel mild contractions, most women compare the placenta to something jelly-like! Imagine giving birth to a jellyfish or a jellocake- now you have an idea of what to expect. While you may feel discomfort as your medical provider helps to aid it out via pushing on the uterus, the delivery feels different than delivering the baby. It is squishy- with no arms, legs, or a head to move through the canal so it can move through with more ease.

delayed cord clamping means the doctor cuts the umbilical cord after the placenta is delivered.

Delayed cord clamping means the doctor cuts the umbilical cord after the placenta is delivered.

Many women say they feel a relief of pressure once their placenta is delivered. You may be given Pitocin at this time to aid in the uterine contractions and help minimize bleeding. Oxytocin and prostaglandins, the hormones released during breastfeeding, can also prompt the uterus to contract as it returns to normal size.It’s common to feel nervous about the need to deliver something else after your baby’s arrival, but do your best to relax and focus on breathing, not tensing up. Breathing and relaxing your pelvic floor will make way for your placenta to move through.

What Do You Do With the Placenta?

There are differing opinions on how to handle a placenta after delivery. Medically it is seen as an organ that no longer has function, but some women choose to keep the placenta and discard it in different ways. If you give birth at a hospital, the standard protocol is likely to discard following biohazard protocol. Many hospitals will allow you to make other arrangements for your placenta if you proactively have this conversation, however, some states and hospitals have strict guidelines against this. If you deliver at home or in a birthing center, you’ll likely have more conversations throughout your prenatal care about what you would like to do after delivery. Many birthing centers and home delivery midwives will make a plan with you.

Biohazard Discard

The hospital will follow standard protocol- likely putting the placenta in a heavy duty plastic container and incinerating the organ for disposal.

Consumption of a Placenta

Some women believe this magical organ replenishes nutrients in the body and may aid in preventing or alleviating postpartum depression and other mood disorders while boosting energy and milk supply. There is varying research and medical opinion on this. Consumption may be through ingesting the raw placenta in something like a smoothie or through dehydrating the placenta and encapsulating it.

Related: Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

Burial or other Method of Honoring 

Some women choose to keep their placenta for an act of honoring it. This could be done via planting it alongside a tree, using it to create art or jewelry.what is afterbirth or the “third stage” of delivery

Preparing While You are Pregnant

While you are pregnant, you will want to talk with your medical provider about your placenta to gain more understanding.

During prenatal appointments, here are some questions you can ask:

1. Do I have any risk factors for placenta complications?
2. What are the signs of a placental problem?
3. What is the protocol for disposing of the placenta? (If you wish to keep it, talk with your provider beforehand about options.)

My story of Placenta Delivery

I am a mother of two and had two different birth experiences. With my first, I remember the afterbirth as uncomfortable, but not as painful. It seemed to move through me and out of me while I was more focused on holding my new baby. My body was relaxed and I noticed the placenta coming out but did not do a lot of extra work. My midwives massaged the uterus to help it expel the placenta.

With my second, there was a lot of anxiety in the room following my birth. My daughter was only on my chest for a couple of minutes before being taken for an exam and to the NICU, and she did not initiate any breastfeeding. I was making choices and having intense conversations with my medical team while the midwife was trying to deliver my placenta. As my cervix started to shrink back down to size before my placenta had been delivered, I was administered Pitocin to aid the contractions or the uterus. I was facing a retained placenta, and it had to be manually removed (yep, this means an arm up in the vagina to manually bring the placenta out.) This process was painful and much different from the peaceful ease of my first.

Related: Homebirth Story
Related: Hospital Birth Story

Being Informed About Your Birth

When it comes to delivering your placenta, it’s first important to know that it must happen! It is also important to make decisions beforehand if you wish to keep it instead of following standard hospital protocol. Lastly, it is important to have conversations with your provider about complications and risk factors. Most women will deliver the placenta with ease and free of complication, but there are some complications that can be threatening to the birthing mom and can lead to a cesarean birth and/or higher risks of bleeding after birth.

SOURCES: Information for this article was sourced from anecdotal evidence, story contribution from other moms, americanpregnany.org, healthline, mayoclinic.

Birth doesn’t need to be scary, but it is an important time to be informed. Empower yourself by asking questions of your medical provider and understanding the changes and process of your body.

Are you expecting and in need of a value-packed birth prep course? Check out Birth It Up!
Are you wanting to prepare for life after baby? Make your Postpartum Plan here!

Birth, motherhood, Postpartum, pregnancy, Pumping

What is a New Mom Coach and Why Do You Need One to Improve Your Life?

New Mom Group Coaching: Your Growth in Motherhood

how to find someone to support you in postpartum as a postpartum coach after you have baby

Every new mom deserves more postpartum support than the standard care we have in the United States. A new mom coach helps you identify that support, advocate for that support, and get the support new moms need.

When talking to moms, I often hear that postpartum, the time after having a baby can be surprising. I get it, it was the same for me. I have always been fortunate to have a great support system and yet there’s something about postpartum that is still so taboo- people aren’t talking about it and women enter this season without preparation. The transitions of new mom life are many, and the places to talk about it and process it are few.

A new mom coach is your guide, your cheerleader, you empowerment sister when it comes to postpartum and new mom life. A new mom coach helps you to move through the changes of postpartum with support and community.

Do All New Mom Coaches Do the Same Thing?

Honestly, the term “Postpartum Coach” or “New Mom Life Coach” is fairly new and there is no “formal” definition. When you search for Postpartum Coach you will get diverse results.

Some postpartum coaches are trainers who focus on weight loss and the postpartum body.
Many postpartum coaches come from a clinical or therapeutic point of view.
A number of postpartum coaches focus on the spiritual transformation of motherhood.

It’s hard to define a new mom coach, because we all come at it from different angles. It’s important that when looking for a coach, you find someone who aligns with your values and your style.

Postpartum Together New Mom Group Coaching

Postpartum Together New Mom Group Coaching was built very intentionally. Together is the emphasis on a group coaching program instead of individual program. At Postpartum Together we whole-heartedly believe that we were made for community. We were made to have a village to support us in postpartum. We were meant to learn alongside other women.

In a society that has taken a lot of that away, we are bringing it back. Our clients share that hearing from one another, having a safe place to be authentic and REAL with other women, having open judgement-free dialogue is life-changing. At Postpartum Together we follow a curriculum that provides you with a weekly theme, prompts throughout the week and place to have discussion, and a weekly video call. This means you are guided through each aspect of postpartum changes with education and space to reflect and learn from others. Weekly, we get face-to-face on a video call and go even deeper together. Together. We believe in TOGETHER.

Another benefit of the group coaching aspect is it allows us to keep the cost lower than individual programs and give more women access to the support and guidance you deserve.

Related: Where do we learn about postpartum?

finding your tribe of mom friends after baby

Who Needs a New Mom Coach?

Short answer? Every mom DESERVES an intentional space to work through the transitions of motherhood. Each mom DESERVES to have someone guide her through the changes and help her find her strengths. Every mom DESERVES tools and resources to help her as her relationship, body, mentality, responsibilities and more change. In years past, there was more of this naturally built in. We lived closer to family. We got to see others go through postpartum. Now, we are often left with highlight reels of social media that leave us with little to really connect with.

Longer answer: There are many factors that can contribute to benefiting from a postpartum coach. A postpartum coach is for you if:

-You want to prepare for life after baby
-Having a baby for the first time
-Going back to work after maternity leave
-Transitioning to being a stay at home mom
-Adding a sibling to the family
-Fostering or adopting a baby
-You want support through your changes
-Need to process your birth experience
-You feel like your body and mind have changed and you want to understand that
-Want to find your identity again after becoming a mom
-You want to improve your relationship and marriage
-Reminders that you’re not alone in new mom struggles like sleep, breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding), work and job questions, overwhelm and more
-You want a non-judgmental space to be seen and accepted, even when motherhood is messy.

Related: Marriage/communication after baby

How is a New Mom Coach Different from a Doula, OB, Midwife, Trainer, etc.?

Postpartum takes a village. A care team. A group of people who can support you. This might include (but not be limited to):
-OB/Midwife
-Doula
-Chiropractor
-Physical therapist
-Lactation consultant
-Counselor
-Pediatrician
-Baby sleep consultant

A New Mom Coach is different from all of these. Your coach is like the glue that holds you to your team. A postpartum coach can help you identify and connect with these resources you need. She takes the time just for YOU to walk through your unique experience. A coach gives you the tools to process your changes, find healing, find empowerment and move forward into a more confident motherhood.

A postpartum coach doesn’t tell you “how to” as much as provides a space for you to identify and find what matters most to you and your family. A postpartum coach isn’t a doula. A doula is often helping you with your home, breastfeeding, finding immediate solutions. We love postpartum doulas, but we are not doulas!

Related: More than a mom

Are you looking to have your best postpartum with the support of a postpartum coaching group? Learn more about Postpartum Together groups here. (And if we aren’t the right fit, I’m happy to help you find a coaching service that is!)

I’m Chelsea. A postpartum coach committed to making space for your unique story and empowering the hell out of you on the way.

I’m Chelsea. A postpartum coach committed to making space for your unique story and empowering the hell out of you on the way.

Interested in becoming a postpartum coach but not sure where to start? Email me here to chat more.