It Is Possible to Have Cramps while Breastfeeding (and Why)
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Cramps during breastfeeding can be very uncomfortable and lead to a feeling of helplessness, but it is not something that should worry you. You are experiencing a normal milk let-down.

The question is, why do some women experience cramps during breastfeeding? Several factors can contribute to this.

Why Does Breastfeeding Sometimes Cause Cramps?

Milk Let-Down

The first reason is that you are experiencing milk let-down. Milk let-down is a natural process that occurs in most women when they are feeding their baby. 

When you nurse your baby, you release milk from the breast and into the baby’s mouth. As the baby suckles, the milk flow continues until all the milk has been released. 

Milk let-down can be quite uncomfortable, but it is a normal process that happens in all women who breastfeed. 

It can sometimes be uncomfortable for a woman because her breasts have become engorged with milk, causing some pain and discomfort. 

This can also happen when a woman has recently had her period or if she is experiencing hormonal changes during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

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Excess Milk in Your Breast

Another cause of cramps during breastfeeding could be excess milk in your breast (known as engorgement). 

This can happen if you have recently had your period or if you are experiencing hormonal changes during pregnancy or breastfeeding. 

Engorgement occurs when there is too much milk stored in your breasts. It can cause some discomfort and cramping as it causes your breasts to become very full, causing them to feel heavy and uncomfortable.

A woman breastfeeding her newborn.
Photo by Fanny Renaud on Unsplash.

How to Reduce Cramps During Breastfeeding

It is very important that you understand the process of milk let-down and how to manage it if you experience cramps during breastfeeding. 

To reduce the pain and discomfort caused by milk let-downs, you must use your breasts in a way that encourages the release of milk from your breasts. 

The most effective way to do this is by nursing frequently, in short sessions, with the baby on your breast at least eight times a day. 

This will help encourage the flow of milk from your breasts and prevent any cramping or discomfort during breastfeeding. 

If you are experiencing painful cramps, then please contact your healthcare provider immediately, as there may be other medical reasons for this (such as an infection). 

In most cases, though, they will recommend some helpful measures that can help reduce any discomfort caused by excess milk in your breast or painful cramps during breastfeeding. 

If you are experiencing engorgement, then please speak with your healthcare provider about ways that can help manage this so that you can continue to nurse your baby with no discomfort or pain.

Tips on Making Breastfeeding More Comfortable

If you are experiencing discomfort during breastfeeding, then there are several steps that you can take to make breastfeeding more comfortable.

There are many things that you can do to help manage the pain and discomfort caused by excess milk in your breast or painful cramps during breastfeeding. 

First, avoid massaging your breasts, as this can make them feel even more uncomfortable and painful. 

Second, try to keep your breasts in a position that encourages the flow of milk from the breasts. 

This is important because it helps encourage the release of milk from your breasts and prevents any cramping or discomfort during breastfeeding. 

The most effective way to do this is by nursing frequently, in short sessions, with the baby on your breast at least eight times a day. 

You should also make sure that you change positions frequently when nursing. Don’t constantly hold one position for too long so that you encourage circulation in your breasts. 

Third, if there is excess milk in your breast, then please speak with your healthcare provider about ways that can help manage this so that you can continue to nurse your baby with no discomfort or pain. 

If you are experiencing painful cramps, then please contact your healthcare provider immediately as there may be other medical reasons for this (such as an infection).

A newborn being breastfed.
Photo by Juan Jose Porta on Unsplash.

What Should Not You Do While Breastfeeding?

You must avoid doing anything that can make the pain and discomfort worse. For example, you mustn’t try to suckle your baby on your breasts if you are experiencing painful cramps during breastfeeding. 

It is also important that you do not massage your breasts, as this can make them feel even more uncomfortable and painful.

As mentioned above, if you are experiencing painful cramps, then please contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Nursing without Discomfort

If you are experiencing painful cramps during breastfeeding, then you must speak with your healthcare provider about ways that can help manage. That way, you can continue to nurse your baby with no discomfort or pain.

For more information about cramps during breastfeeding, please check out our website, The Mindful Parent!