If you are a new parent, afterpains may come as a surprise at first. Afterpains are postpartum cramping that occurs after childbirth and continues for several weeks. After a vaginal delivery, using ice packs for the first 24 hours can reduce pain and swelling in the perineum and labia.
Many people experience contractions several days after delivery. They often feel like period cramps. These contractions happen because your uterus is shrinking to its normal size. The uterus is about 2.5 pounds after delivery but shrinks to just a few ounces after several weeks.
These uterine contractions may feel more intense when you're feeding your baby because breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin. This cramping sensation actually lessens the amount of postpartum bleeding and prevents excessive blood loss. With every birth, afterpains will get stronger and last longer. In general, these contractions will disappear in six weeks.