Health Library
Health Library

    8 Postpartum Pains and Aches to Expect (and How to Manage Them)

    Updated 13 February 2022 |
    Published 22 November 2018
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Anna Klepchukova, Flo chief medical officer, UK
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    It is normal to experience some pains and aches after giving birth and usually these aches and pains subside with time. But, there are women who continue to experience severe pain and aches months after delivery. If you are going through severe postpartum pain, this is a warning sign that something is wrong and you should seek immediate medical attention. Here are postpartum pains and aches you should expect after delivery and how you can manage them.

    You feel pain all over your body

    It is normal to experience pain all over your body after giving birth. This is because the body goes through intense strain during contractions. Sometimes the contractions can be so intense that some women continue to experience pain and aches weeks after delivery. 

    Most women after giving birth, complain about low back pain, which is not a surprise given the amount of strain and pain the body goes through during labor contractions. Other than back pain, you may experience headaches, aches and stiffness between your shoulders, or sharp pain in the hips or lower back. You may also experience tingling in your hands and wrists. 

    Take a quiz

    Find out what you can do with our Health Assistant

    How to manage

    If you continue to experience pain all over your body after your 6th week postpartum, seek medical attention. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication and other forms of therapy to help you manage the pain. 

    You should also consider acupuncture, which is known to successfully treat back pain, headaches, anxiety, and depression among other health issues. 

    Flo is the best app out there. It helped me track my ovulation cycle and get pregnant and then helped me track my pregnancy and postpartum period. I cannot live without this app!

    Your breasts grow a few cup sizes and get hard

    One of the most common and major changes you start to notice after giving birth is how large and tender your breasts get. Patients usually experience the onset of lactation, engorgement or “letdown,” approximately 24 to 72 hours postpartum.

    In other words, engorgement occurs when there is excess milk stored in the breasts, they become uniformly warmer, firmer, and tender. Patients often complain of pain or warmth in the breasts and may experience fever. 

    Once you start breastfeeding, your breasts become less swollen and hard. As you continue breastfeeding, your breasts become less engorged. But, if your breastfeed less often, then your breasts are likely to become engorged again. 

    How to manage

    Nurse often. Breastfeeding often can provide relief to engorged breasts making them less swollen and hard. Consider nursing every 3 hours or so to help reduce engorgement. Avoid taking breaks of 4 to 5 hours between feedings as this causes your breasts to become engorged. Nurse your baby about 12 times a day to avoid breast engorgement. 

    Manage the swelling using cold or heat. For patients not breastfeeding, ice packs, a tight bra, analgesics, and anti-inflammatory medications are all useful. 

    Consider using a breast pump to reduce engorgement. 

    You feel contractions (again?!)

    It is normal to experience contractions after giving birth because the uterus is contracting back to its pre-pregnancy state. This is called involution. Another reason why you could you experience intense contractions or afterbirth pains is when you are breastfeeding. 

    Breastfeeding triggers postpartum contractions. However, these contractions last only a few days and then subside.  

    How to manage

    To manage afterbirth pains, there are several things you can do:

    • Talk to your doctor to prescribe pain medication. Try breathing and relaxation techniques to help alleviate the contractions.
    • Urinate frequently.
    • Increase breastfeeding frequency to alleviate the contractions.

    Perineal tears

    Perineal tears occur during vaginal delivery and these are usually lacerations of the soft tissue that is between the anus and the vagina. Perineal lacerations vary in severity. Most of them are mild and don’t require any treatment. But some tears are so severe that they can cause a lot of bleeding and chronic long-term pain.  

    Depending on how severe the tear is, you may need perineal stitching to help promote tissue healing. However, minor tears do not require stitching and are left to heal on their own. 

    How to manage

    Several ways you can manage perineal pain include:

    • Placing an ice pack on the wound for relief.
    • Relaxing more and staying away from strenuous activities.
    • Wearing comfortable loose clothing.
    • Drinking plenty of liquids.

    Your caregiver may also recommend pain medication to help manage the pain. 

    C-section scar itches

    It’s normal for scars to itch especially when they are healing. So if you have had a C-sec