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Postpartum Afterpains

Postpartum Afterpains

Postpartum Afterpains

Postpartum afterpains

Many first time mothers have never even heard of them, and some won’t even notice the cramping sensation known as afterpains. Occurring after the delivery of the child, afterpains consist of postpartum cramping that is felt (or not noticed) after delivery of a baby and continues for a few days.

Especially noticeable during breastfeeding, postpartum afterpains are a sign that the uterus is cramping and shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy state. Postpartum afterpains serve an important purpose: helping the uerus become smaller so as to minimize blood loss. Because breastfeeding stimulates oxytocin production and oxytocin helps contract the uterus, women may have a constant, almost labor-like, feeling of cramping while they nurse their baby.

Just as with most topics relating to birth and postpartum, there is much variation in the way that women experience afterpains. Elisha, a mom of one and childbirth educator in Lewisville, TX says that, “Every time I nursed I felt my uterus contracting, but it would go away shortly after each nursing session began. I just knew the pain had a purpose, and couldn't let it interfere with my breastfeeding experience.” Some women, particularly first time mothers, may not even notice afterpains at all.

Women often report that the more babies they give birth to, the stronger and longer the postpartum afterpain sensation is.“With my second I mostly just had them while nursing. And with my third I had them all the time for at least three days postpartum. And they were so horrible and intense, I couldn't even hold the baby while having them,”  reports Holly, a Birth Boot Camp instructor in Denton, TX. Others report that after the sixth birth, afterpains diminish once again and are not as noticeable.

Postpartum Afterpain Relief

 There are many things that can be done to help relieve the pain and intensity of afterpains. Here are a few ideas. Take those that work for you and disregard those that don’t. We are all different!

 -Employ Relaxation Techniques-

Your childbirth class no doubt helped you tune in to your own ability to relax through times of stress, strain, and even pain. While the focus in a birth class is on using these tools for a natural birth, the ability to relax can be helpful in many different situations (especially as a parent!)

 Valerie, a Birth Boot Camp childbirth educator in Princeton, NJ, says, “All of my practice and education in dealing with labor contractions helped me, even after birth! Plus, just like with labor contractions, I knew that they had a purpose. Labor contractions were not frightening because I knew that they were intense for a reason (dilating my cervix, moving my baby down and out). And afterpains weren't frightening because I knew they were working to preventing excess bleeding (also a very good thing!). In both circumstances, knowing that it was normal and even useful eased my worries and concerns.” Just like with birth, knowledge and relaxation are helpful in dealing with afterpains.

Focusing on deep breathing, just as you did to relax through those contractions in labor, can help you relax through the contractions after labor. The deep and cleansing breath that reaches down to your abdomen and fully employs your diaphragm, can help you let tension leave your body during postpartum contractions just as it worked in labor.

 Rachael Hope, a Birth Boot Camp instructor in Bellingham, Washington, details what worked for her:

“I used a heating pad a lot in the first two weeks after my second was born, putting it on my front instead of my back. It seemed to help. Binding my stomach also seemed to help with the pain. The most helpful thing for me was just relaxing, breathing, and remembering that the afterpains were just my body readjusting after birth.”

 Other techniques that you liked for labor such as counting or distraction may also be useful. Find what works for you and use it as needed.

 -Alternative Pain Management-

There are a variety of products and herbal options available that experienced birthing and nursing mothers find helpful in dealing with afterpains. Earth Mama Angel Baby Comfort tea, Skullcap and cramp bark tincture, Arnica tablets, Afterease, liquid calcium-magnesium, and Motherwart are all things that can spell relief. As with any medical treatment, it is important to consult with your care provider when using natural remedies too. Your midwife will be able to guide you as you choose what works best for you.


Other alternative methods that may be helpful with afterpains include hot stone massage (done by some midwives), or abdominal wrapping. Abdominal wrapping is a common part of postpartum care and mother support in some cultures and many are finding it useful still in relieving postpartum afterpains.

 -Pharmacological Pain Relief-

Sometimes the pain associated with postpartum recovery, including afterpains, is such that a mother will have a difficult time recovering or sleeping, or even having a desire to breastfeed (especially if breastfeeding becomes associated with triggering afterpains.)

Kristi, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Houston, TX, who has had two natural births said that, “When I was nursing again, I broke down in tears and begged my husband to go get me some Motrin. He and my father-in-law, jumped in the car to go get me some. It really helped. Since then I've said, "I'm all about the natural birth, but I'm not all about the natural postpartum. Give me drugs!"”

Talk to your care provider about what they recommend in this instance. Certain painkillers are not ideal for nursing women. There is a wide range of choices safe for nursing mothers.. Your provider will help you choose what works best and is safe for you and baby.

 -Common Sense Comfort For Afterpains-

There are also simple solutions for dealing with afterpains. A warm cup of tea with milk as you settle and relax can be helpful. A hot water bottle or warmed rice pack over your abdomen can bring welcome relief during breastfeeding. The simple act of staying hydrated and eating nourishing, healthy food can be a comfort and aid during recovery.

Warm bone broth with vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts, green salads, and other nourishing postpartum foods that feed your recovering, hardworking body, cannot be underestimated at this transitional time of life. Allow and invite those around you to help nourish you as you recover. Or, if you know that support postpartum will be limited, seek to prepare beforehand so that you will have healthy things on hand after the time of birth. Don’t underestimate the joy of a freezer full of food.

Sometimes afterpains are more than just a physical occurrence, but can even serve as a reminder of the birth. For women who experienced very quick labors, the pain of afterpains can also serve as a sort of processing. As Nancy Rebarchik, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Hurst, TX, says, “After my second baby, a precipitous birth, the difficulty for me was more emotional. The afterpains made me feel like I was back in labor, which I was still emotionally processing. While they were intense, they allowed me to work through the emotional stuff most people process during labor. Sometimes, things that are hurtful can be very helpful. “

While not always pleasant, the experience of postpartum afterpains can serve multiple purposes. From helping mom slow down, to shrinking the uterus, and even helping ease the emotional transition into motherhood, this often secret but memorable experience is not one to be ignored.


In many ways, the immediate postpartum period and the first few weeks after the birth of a baby are things that we keep secret and rarely talk about. While understandable considering the intimate nature of these powerful life events, silence regarding the many changes in the body often leaves women feeling vulnerable, unprepared and confused.

 Education and knowledge have the opposite effect. As Rachael says, ““I was so glad that both my midwife and a good friend warned me that the afterpains are more intense with the second baby than the first!"

Postpartum afterpains are one of these subjects that few realize even exists until they experience it for themselves. Sharing this knowledge is important preparation for a more pleasant entrance into the many joys (and sometimes unpleasant surprises) of motherhood.

doula training discount

Win Doula Training Discount!

doula training discount
Enter to win a huge discount off doula training!


Win Doula Training Discount!

To celebrate Wold Doula Week, Birth Boot Camp DOULA has organized a contest. You can win a doula training discount for our very own Birth Boot Camp DOULA training!

We believe that doulas can make birth better, improve the experience for the birthing mother, her partner, her baby, and her entire family. In fact, we believe that more fabulous doulas who have the business skills to build sustainable, successful doula practices, actually have the ability to change the world!

For this reason we are offering a huge discount to FIVE lucky winners in our doula training discount contest for World Doula Week.

Entering is simple!

Enter via this link.

There are four easy ways you can enter the contest right there! Each entry gains you more points and increases your likelihood of winning. At the bottom, click the button to "unlock bonus entries" to enter yourself even MORE times! There are so many opportunities to share and increase your chance of winning. You can share your entry all over social media and send your friends to do the same. We can't wait to see you on YouTube, google+, or even on your blog! Remember- you have one week to enter and you can enter DAILY! Maximize your chances of winning!

Have fun, tell your friends, and get yourself a huge discount on our fabulous Birth Boot Camp DOULA training! We can't wait to meet you and make birth better for couples everywhere!

Learn more about becoming a Birth Boot Camp DOULA here.

become a doula
What is involved in being a Birth Boot Camp instructor.

What It Means To Be A Birth Boot Camp Instructor

What is involved in being a Birth Boot Camp instructor.

We can't even express how much we appreciate our 120+ instructors. From those joining us now, to that first group who took a chance with a new company, they are amazing, dedicated and intelligent women who strive every day to make birth better for women and their partners. Today we share a post from one of these instructors, Shazia. Shazia was in one of our earlier instructor groups and teaches birth classes in Arlington and Fort Worth, TX. We love hearing about what being a Birth Boot Camp instructor means to her. Enjoy!

What it Means to be a Birth Boot Camp Instructor

I have had the pleasure of teaching Birth Boot Camp for almost 2 years now. As a Birth Boot Camp instructor, I am proud to say that I stand out. There is a reason that many providers in my city, send their pregnant moms to a Birth Boot Camp instructor for their comprehensive birth education!

My natural birth journey began during my first pregnancy in 2011. I had the pleasure of signing up to take a class with Donna Ryan, the founder and creator of Birth Boot Camp. When I started searching for a childbirth instructor, I looked for 3 things. I wanted an instructor who was local to me, someone who taught a comprehensive class that covered everything my husband and I needed to know, and someone who was qualified. You may be thinking what does “qualified” mean when it comes to a childbirth educator. Let me explain!

As a Birth Boot Camp instructor, I am CERTIFIED to teach. This is an important qualification. This means that a group of other birth professionals have acknowledged the hard work I put in to my training to become an instructor AND have stamped me with their seal of approval. They made sure that I put the work in to have the necessary knowledge I needed to teach a comprehensive childbirth series. I spent months and months reading a stack of books on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, postpartum care, and special circumstances. I sat in a training class for days learning everything I needed to know to teach Birth Boot Camp. I, then, took a test to be certain I had learned everything I needed to know. That’s what my certification shows! It is an acknowledgement of all of the knowledge I have obtained to teach couples what they need to know to obtain a safe and healthy birth.

As a Birth Boot Camp instructor, I was also required to have given birth naturally and breastfed for at least 12 months. You may ask why that is important. Many of my students have thanked me for sharing personal experiences with them during class to illustrate a particular topic. Unfortunately, I have had some students in my class who didn’t know a single person who had given birth without the use of pain medication. I was the only one they had ever met who could say, “I’ve done it and so can you!” I know that when I sought out Donna’s class, I loved that she had given birth the way I wanted to birth and successfully breastfed. It was important to me to have an instructor who had “been there.” It was incredibly encouraging to know that if she could do it, so could I!

Quality childbirth education comes from qualified childbirth educators! Before you choose a childbirth class, ask yourself if you are taking exceptional curriculum from a qualified instructor. If you can’t answer yes, consider switching classes. There are Birth Boot Camp instructors all over the world and if there isn’t a local instructor in your area, you can always take the entire course online!



Shazia Lackey RN,BSN,BBCI, is a Birth Boot Camp instructor in Arlingon and Fort Worth, TX. You can find her class schedule at Shazia is mother to two sweet children, both born naturally after taking her first Birth Boot Camp class. 


Here is Shazia talking about why she teaches birth classes.

No Certification Births For Birth Boot Camp DOULAS

No Certification Births For Birth Boot Camp DOULAS

No Doula Certification Births With Birth Boot Camp DOULA

No Certification Births For Birth Boot Camp DOULAS

Tradition is wonderful, but sometimes it becomes necessary to question why a certain tradition lives on. In the doula certification world, there is a long tradition of “certification births” that must be finished before you are officially a doula. While there are good intentions behind the certification birth requirements for doulas, in truth, requiring certification births that meet strict guidelines only serves to devalue the doula profession as a whole.

Maybe you’ve heard the story of the woman who cuts the ends off her pot roast before putting it in her (large) pan. When her mother notices, she asks why she is doing that. The daughter had never even thought to question why it was done, it was just something she’d seen her mother do all her life. Come to find out, the pan her mother cooked the roast in always seemed too small, so she cut the ends off the pot roast, but she should have just bought a new pan!

What does pot roast have to do with doula certification? Doula certification programs have always required certification births. To keep with tradition, we considered this requirement as part of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program. As we started asking ourselves hard questions about the purpose of certifying births, we determined that just because they have always been part of the process, doesn’t mean they are still useful. In fact, a strict certifying birth requirement can hold a doula back professionally. In effect, it is time that doula certifying organizations metaphorically “buy a pan that fits”. At Birth Boot Camp DOULA we do not require certification births to become a doula. We have found a better way.

Why Require Doula Certification Births?

What constitutes a “certifying birth”? First, some organizations require the doula to be at the birth for a set amount of time for it to count towards certification. Birth Boot Camp teaches that labor is variable and takes as long as it needs, so setting a minimum time is not compatible with what we know about birth. Second, at Birth Boot Camp, we feel that women don’t need vaginal exams to progress in labor. To require a doula to be present from an arbitrary dilation calculation is not supported by our philosophy and continues to promote the erroneous idea that dilation is the only way of measuring labor progress. A final concern is that the Birth Boot Camp DOULA program has a huge emphasis on relational - not just physical - support. We train our doulas to connect with their clients so that they can best serve them. A certain number of certification births does not give us information about a doula’s skills in this area.

Continuous Doula Accountability

If the purpose of certifying births is accountability and experience, there is a better way. Birth Boot Camp DOULAS are accountable, not only for the first few births they attend, but all of them throughout their career with Birth Boot Camp DOULA! Based on the number of Supporting Arms booklets they order for their clients in a given year, our doulas are required to fill out a Birth Summary for 80% of them. We aim for 100% but realize this isn’t always possible. Our doulas, like Birth Boot Camp Instructors, keep statistics to be transparent and measure their own effectiveness so we can make changes as needed. Accountability for a doula should last far longer than her three certifying births.

An evaluation form is sent to every Birth Boot Camp DOULA client so that they may evaluate the care they received from their doula This form does not actually go back to the doula, but to our Doula Certification Coordinator, who can then share the evaluation with the doula if the client gives permission. So, the two evaluations are coming from the doula and her client, not a care provider who may have spent only minutes in the doula’s presence. Care providers and nurses may be willing, but generally they have no relationship with the doula or any incentive to help her reach her goal of certification. The most important opinion is that of the birthing mother. We seek her views on the birth and role of her doula and value them highly. At Birth Boot Camp DOULA, certification births are not held over the doula’s head, and ongoing evaluations simply become a part of constantly striving to be a better doula.

Changing the Culture of “Free Doulas”

It is impossible to have a conversation about “certification births” without addressing “free doulas.” At Birth Boot Camp DOULA, we talk a lot about professionalism, scope of practice, and sustainability. Doulas being forced to complete certification births perpetuates the problem of couples always looking for a “free doula” and a culture that undervalues the unique supportive role of female birth workers. Birth Boot Camp DOULAS complete a heavy workload, followed by an intense 3-day workshop. They complete an exam at the end of the workshop, and upon passing, they are declared certified. They are ready to work! We recommend they charge a starting wage at their discretion, charging not below $300. A Birth Boot Camp DOULA will never be encouraged to work for free nor will she be so desperate for her certification births that she feels compelled to work for free.

Doulas Supporting Doulas

Birth Boot Camp DOULAS leave training with all the skills, knowledge and business savvy to be incredible doulas.  She is not left to figure things out on her own, as she has a tremendous support team at Birth Boot Camp Headquarters and among her fellow Birth Boot Camp DOULAS. We have created an avenue to launch new Birth Boot Camp DOULAS to success and help them to reach their goal of having an enjoyable, profitable, and sustainable career as a doula.

Our doulas are enrolled in a mentorship program where they receive ongoing guidance and continue their development in several ways including a one-on-one consultation with one of the Birth Boot Camp DOULA creators and trainers, Amanda Devereux or Maria Pokluda. Our mentorship program is designed to develop each Birth Boot Camp DOULA’s relational support skills, business model, support them through their early births, and enhance what they learned through Birth Boot Camp DOULA training.

At Birth Boot Camp DOULA we have aimed to create a unique and superior doula certification program. We are not afraid to break tradition in order to make better doulas who can have lasting careers where they are compensated for their efforts. There is no doula certification program that offers the training, materials, and ongoing support that Birth Boot Camp DOULA does. Join our ranks today!

supporting arms booklet

Preview Of “Supporting Arms,” Birth Boot Camp DOULA’s Client Booklet

supporting arms booklet
A doula shares "Supporting Arms" with a client.

Preview Of "Supporting Arms," Birth Boot Camp DOULA's Client Booklet

Every Birth Boot Camp DOULA client receives the incredible "Supporting Arms" booklet from their Birth Boot Camp DOULA. We are so proud of this little book and our doulas love it. The "Supporting Arms" booklet contains wonderful and useful information for both the doula and her client. What is in "Supporting Arms"?

  • Information on when to contact your doula.
  • A coupon for an online Birth Boot Camp childbirth class.
  • A place to write down local resources recommended by your Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
  • Information you will cover in your 1st and 2nd prenatal visits with your Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
  • Tips for birth and relaxation for you and your partner.
  • Useful information and pictures about what happens in labor.
  • A relaxation practice exclusive to Birth Boot Camp DOULA.
  • Incredible breastfeeding and postpartum information.
  • All in full color, gorgeous pictures!

How does "Supporting Arms" benefit the doula?

Our two doula prenatals are unique and structured to build relationships. As explained by Amanda Devereux, a program developer and trainer for Birth Boot Camp DOULA, "The focus of the prenatal appointments is on relational support, not on education. This really creates an incredible doula-client relationship and that moves into some amazing births!" With Maria Pokluda, Amanda worked hard to create a training that teaches doulas how to do this. Together they created "Supporting Arms," a beautiful, full color book that provides information that you would otherwise spend a lot of time going over. "Supporting Arms" goes hand in hand with the structure of the prenatal appointments. Conducting prenatals, and the postpartum visit in this way contributes to sustainability within the profession, so that our doulas can have long and fulfilling doula careers and clients who they have excellent relationships with.

What do doulas say about "Supporting Arms"?

At Birth Boot Camp our mission is to help prepare couples for amazing natural births. One way we strive to do this is by supporting our instructors and doulas with the best training, preparation and materials we can possibly offer. We love that all of our doulas can take materials with them to their visits and interviews that look professional and that provide information that is above and beyond. They love that they don't have to photocopy dozens of papers from various sources and staple them together for each new client.

Nancy Rebarchik, a Birth Boot Camp instructor, doula, and administrator for the doula program says, "The Supporting Arms booklet fills in the gaps for my clients between the end of their Birth Boot Camp class series and D-Day. My clients find it so reassuring in the last weeks of their pregnancy. Their confidence translates into more peaceful end to their pregnancy, and fewer panicky phone calls and texts to their doula. It's definitely a win-win!" You can find Nancy in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at

Hailie Wolf, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Abilene, TX notes the focus on postpartum baby care and mother wellness. "One of the things I really love about the "Supporting Arms" booklet is the great breastfeeding and postpartum support information. Moms always laugh about the pictures of what to expect from baby's first poops, but they always end up finding them helpful! The mental health self check list is also a wonderful tool." You can find Hailie in Abilene and at

Andrea Winn, a Birth Boot Camp instructor and doula in Spokane, Washington, says, "There is really nothing else out there like the Supporting Arms booklet. It is complementary to a thorough childbirth class, but it can definitely stand alone as a great reference as well! In addition to a comprehensive childbirth class and a supportive birth team, the Supporting Arms booklet is another amazing tool to have in your toolbox!" You can find Andrea at

Maria Pokluda, co-creator of Birth Boot Camp doula and the "Supporting Arms" booklet describes why this material is designed the way it is. "I love that our Birth Boot Camp DOULAs are walking into prenatals and interviews with this beautifully designed booklet. It immediately shows that our doulas are professionals and prenatals done using the Supporting Arms materials ensure that the client and doula develop a strong relationship which is a huge step towards working together perfectly during labor." You can find Maria in the Dallas are of TX or at

Our format is organized, simple, and polished. We love it, our doulas love it, and we know their clients love it! Already we hear our doulas reporting that in interviews their clients ask, "How can I get that booklet?!" The answer- Hire me! So, without any further ado, here it is!

Preview Of "Supporting Arms," Birth Boot Camp DOULA's Client Booklet

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