ZocdocAnswersIs cramping normal during breastfeeding?

Question

Is cramping normal during breastfeeding?

Is it normal for a woman to experience cramps while she is breastfeeding her baby? I'm still nursing my 10 month old and I have been getting on and off cramps in my chest, not exactly in my breasts? Is this possibly a sign that something is wrong? It has been a problem more on one side than the other, which worries me in particular.

Answer

Breastfeeding stimulates the production of a hormone called oxytocin, which causes uterine contractions and also contractions of the small muscles around the milk glands that release breast milk. Therefore some women will experience cramping sensations with nursing; but this would be unlikely the cause in your case as you did not have these earlier. Another possibility would be tugging and pulling at the breast as the baby gets bigger is creating some discomfort and stretching some nerves. Attempting to reposition the baby and better support the breast may help with this. Finally, this may be an condition unrelated to breast feeding. For example, inflammation if the ribs in the chest, called costochondritis, is a common and benign condition (the pain will be worse if you press over the ribs). Heart burn may also be sometimes interpreted as a burning or cramping sensation in the middle of the chest. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular concern would require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit might be advised if symptoms persist.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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