For some days following labour, intermittent pains or “contractions” of the womb are still to be felt giving rise to the so-called after-pains. These are more common following a second or subsequent birth as the multiparous womb (having had one or more babies) is less active due to a small space being left inside, which fills up with secretions from the healing afterbirth site. This stimulates the womb to contract in the attempt to expel the secretions and can cause quite severe pain and discomfort.
Following a first birth, the walls of the womb come together more closely, virtually emptying the womb completely of all secretions, therefore contractions are less likely to occur.
After-pains are also stimulated by breastfeeding, and though uncomfortable for some, this helps the womb to return to normal.
Involution of the other generative organs – ovaries and fallopian tubes takes place a little more slowly than that of the womb. Mild painkillers as taken for a headache will alleviate the discomfort of after-pains.
If breastfeeding, it’s best to check with your doctor before taking any medication as this can be transmitted to the baby.