7 Causes of Abdominal Pain After Giving Birth

by Ella

The miracle of childbirth is undoubtedly one of the most transformative experiences a woman can go through, but it’s crucial to recognize that the journey doesn’t end with delivery. The postpartum period brings its own set of challenges, and for many women, abdominal pain is among them. In this article, we will delve into the various factors that contribute to abdominal pain after giving birth, shedding light on the common and not-so-common causes that mothers may encounter during this delicate phase of recovery.


The Postpartum Period: A Time of Adjustment

The postpartum period encompasses the weeks and months following childbirth, during which a woman’s body undergoes significant changes as it recovers from the rigors of pregnancy and delivery. Abdominal pain during this time is a common and expected occurrence, but understanding the specific causes can help women navigate this period with greater awareness and comfort.


Causes of Abdominal Pain After Giving Birth

1. Uterine Contractions:

One of the primary contributors to postpartum abdominal pain is uterine contractions. After childbirth, the uterus undergoes a process known as involution, where it gradually returns to its pre-pregnancy size and shape. To facilitate this, the uterine muscles contract, helping to expel any remaining placental tissue and minimize the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. These contractions, often referred to as afterpains, can be more pronounced during breastfeeding due to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates uterine contractions.


While these contractions are a positive sign of the body’s natural recovery mechanism, they can cause discomfort, especially during the first few days postpartum. Over-the-counter pain relievers, under the guidance of healthcare professionals, are commonly recommended to manage this pain.


2. Perineal Discomfort:

Tears or episiotomies (surgical incisions made to widen the vaginal opening during childbirth) are not uncommon during delivery, and the healing process can contribute to abdominal discomfort. Soreness and pain in the perineal area, between the vagina and anus, are common, especially if stitches were needed to repair any tears.

Postpartum perineal care, including the use of sitz baths, topical pain relief, and proper hygiene, can aid in the healing process and alleviate discomfort. It’s essential for women to communicate any persistent or worsening pain to their healthcare providers for appropriate evaluation and guidance.

3. Postpartum Gas and Constipation:

The postpartum period can bring about changes in the digestive system, leading to gas and constipation. Abdominal pain related to gas may be exacerbated by the slowed digestive processes that occur during pregnancy and can persist in the postpartum phase. Additionally, the use of pain medications, particularly opioids prescribed for pain management after childbirth, can contribute to constipation.

Staying hydrated, consuming a fiber-rich diet, and incorporating gentle exercises, under medical guidance, can help alleviate constipation and reduce associated abdominal discomfort. It’s crucial for new mothers to communicate openly with healthcare providers about any digestive issues they may be experiencing.

4. Postpartum Hormonal Fluctuations:

Hormonal fluctuations are an inherent part of the postpartum journey. The abrupt drop in pregnancy hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, coupled with the surge in prolactin for breastfeeding mothers, can contribute to mood swings, fatigue, and abdominal discomfort. These hormonal shifts also impact the ligaments and muscles in the abdominal region, leading to a sensation of tightness or mild pain.

While these hormonal changes are a natural part of the postpartum period, self-care practices such as adequate rest, proper nutrition, and emotional support are crucial for managing associated symptoms.

5. C-Section Recovery:

For women who undergo cesarean section (C-section) deliveries, abdominal pain is a part of the recovery process. C-sections involve an incision in the abdominal wall and uterus, and postoperative pain and discomfort are expected. Pain management strategies, including prescription medications and gradual physical activity, are employed to support C-section recovery.

It’s essential for women recovering from a C-section to follow their healthcare provider’s guidance regarding pain medications, wound care, and the resumption of activities. Any signs of infection or unusual pain should be promptly reported to ensure timely intervention.

6. Urinary Tract Issues:

Postpartum urinary issues, such as urinary retention or urinary tract infections (UTIs), can contribute to abdominal discomfort. Changes in bladder function, particularly if a woman experienced epidural anesthesia during labor, may lead to difficulty emptying the bladder fully.

Prompt attention to postpartum urinary concerns, including maintaining adequate hydration, practicing good perineal hygiene, and seeking medical evaluation for any signs of infection, is essential to prevent complications and alleviate associated abdominal pain.

7. Endometritis:

In some cases, postpartum abdominal pain may be indicative of an infection, such as endometritis. This condition involves inflammation of the uterine lining and may result from the introduction of bacteria during labor or delivery, particularly after prolonged rupture of membranes.

Signs of endometritis may include abdominal pain, fever, and abnormal discharge. Timely medical intervention, often with antibiotics, is crucial to address the infection and prevent complications.

Navigating Abdominal Pain: Tips for Postpartum Comfort

Open Communication with Healthcare Providers:

Establish open communication with healthcare providers and discuss any concerns or discomfort experienced during the postpartum period. Timely intervention and guidance are essential for optimal recovery.

Pain Management Strategies:

Work with healthcare providers to develop a personalized pain management plan that may include over-the-counter or prescription medications, as well as non-pharmacological approaches like hot or cold compresses.

Rest and Recovery:

Prioritize rest and recovery to support the body’s natural healing processes. Adequate sleep and time for relaxation contribute significantly to postpartum well-being.

Hydration and Nutrition:

Maintain proper hydration and consume a balanced diet rich in nutrients to support overall health and recovery. Fiber-rich foods can aid in digestive health and help alleviate constipation.

Gentle Physical Activity:

Gradually incorporate gentle physical activity as advised by healthcare providers. Activities such as walking can promote circulation and aid in overall recovery.

Support System:

Cultivate a strong support system, including family, friends, and partners, to provide emotional support and assistance with daily tasks. Emotional well-being is integral to the postpartum experience.


Abdominal pain after giving birth is a multifaceted experience, influenced by various factors ranging from natural physiological processes to surgical interventions. Understanding the causes of postpartum abdominal pain empowers women to navigate this delicate phase with awareness and confidence. Open communication with healthcare providers, adherence to recommended postpartum care practices, and a commitment to self-care are key components of a healthy recovery. As every woman’s postpartum journey is unique, personalized guidance and support play pivotal roles in ensuring optimal well-being during this transformative time.


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