After delivery, hormone changes and the physical demands of caring for a baby can lead to joint pain. Applying heat, taking over-the-counter medications, and other choices may help.

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Your little one is finally here. Now that you’ve given birth, you may be done with those unpleasant pregnancy symptoms, but some pregnancy pains may not disappear immediately. The physical demands of labor and caring for a baby may also cause you to develop new symptoms, including aching joints.

If you find yourself with painful joints after giving birth, there are remedies you can try at home to help. If your pain persists or signs of infection develop, notify your doctor right away.

If you experience joint pain after delivery, here are a few options to relieve your joint pain that you can try at home:

Heat or cold therapy

After delivery, heat, cold therapy, or both may help. Heat therapy can increase blood flow to an area of the body, increasing muscle flexibility and soothing pain.

On the other hand, cold therapy can reduce inflammation and may be better for areas with bruises and swelling. To apply heat or cold to an area of your body, try an electric heating pad or a compress.

Nursing support

You may experience joint pain from how you position your body and hold your baby during nursing sessions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends:

  • looking up whenever possible to help prevent neck discomfort
  • using pillows to support your arms and back while you nurse
  • asking a lactation consultant or other expert for suggestions on more comfortable feeding position ideas

A nursing pillow may also be helpful in supporting your baby while they feed.


Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Advil) and pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help relieve some joint pain. According to ACOG, both ibuprofen and acetaminophen are safe to take while nursing.

Applying a topical pain relieving cream or medicated patches to areas of the body that are hurting may also help.

If you are nursing, it’s important to check with your doctor about any medications you are considering. Look for specific instructions regarding taking a particular medication while nursing.

The physical stress of delivering a baby and lifting and caring for that baby can all lead to joint pain. Other causes of joint pain during late pregnancy, delivery, and after delivery include things like:

  • hormonal fluctuations
  • changes in your body’s center of gravity (caused by extra weight, an enlarged uterus, lifting and carrying a newborn)
  • fluid retention

It’s also possible that your joint pains and aches are related to conditions outside of pregnancy. Speaking with your OB-GYN is a good option, but following up with your primary care doctor or healthcare professional may also be helpful. Daily changes like adding light to moderate exercise, stretching, and physical therapy, if prescribed, may also help.

Check with your healthcare professional the help you decide how soon you can safely begin exercise following delivery.

Contact your doctor if you experience:

  • chest pain or trouble breathing
  • severe pain in your lower abdomen
  • pain, swelling, or tenderness in your legs
  • signs of an infection (fever of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, nausea or vomiting, foul-smelling vaginal discharge)
  • a headache that does not improve with medication or that impacts your vision
  • an increase in joint pain over time

Individual experiences with joint pain can differ depending on the specific factors contributing to the pain. While discomfort from certain nursing positions may resolve quickly, if arthritis is contributing to your joint pain after delivery, you may experience continuing pain and flare-ups throughout your life.

If you experience joint pain after delivery, you may wish to speak with:

Finding a support group for new parents may help as well.

Can breastfeeding cause aching joints?

Especially if you’re not careful with how you position your body and the baby, nursing can cause muscle and joint pain. Using pillows to support your arms and back can help prevent joint pain. Another recommendation if you nurse is to move your head and stretch your neck frequently during feeds.

How long do postpartum body aches last?

Postpartum pain levels vary from person to person. Some aches may last from a few days to a few weeks. You can also experience some aches that last for months or even years.

What causes postpartum arthritis?

In some rare cases, individuals will develop rheumatoid arthritis in the postpartum period if their immune system attacks their healthy joint tissue. Stress and body changes can also cause flares of existing arthritis. Forty-six percent of women with rheumatoid arthritis will experience flares within 3 months of giving birth.

After delivering a baby, you may experience joint pain because of hormonal changes and the physical demands of labor and caring for a baby. If you were experiencing joint pain during pregnancy, this could also continue into the postpartum period as your body returns to its prepregnancy state.

Heat, support with nursing, and over-the-counter medications can all help to reduce your discomfort, but if you have any signs of infection or experience increasing pain, it’s important to let your doctor know right away.