A breastfeeding headache is more common than you would think. There are ways to rectify, prevent and at least make it a bit more bearable.
If you suffer from constant migraine headaches, you should see your doctor. Let your doctor know that you are breastfeeding.
What Can Cause a Breastfeeding Headache?
- Stress and noise. Stress activates the body's "fight or flight" response, which can cause physical changes such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. These physical changes can lead to the development of a headache. Noise can also be a trigger for headaches, as it can cause muscle tension and increase the body's stress response. In addition, noise pollution can interfere with sleep, which can also contribute to the development of headaches.
- Discontinued use of medications.
- Weaning too rapidly or stopping breastfeeding abruptly can cause a headache for several reasons. First, the sudden reduction in the production of the hormone oxytocin can cause blood vessels to constrict, leading to a headache. In addition, the sudden drop in hormone levels that occurs during weaning can cause physical and emotional changes, which can also contribute to the development of a headache. Finally, the process of weaning can be stressful, and stress is a common trigger for headaches.
- PPD (depression) can cause a nursing headache.
- Thyroid problems.
- Blood pressure problems.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Hormonal changes (discussed below).
When Hormones Cause Breastfeeding Headaches
* Estrogen and headaches: Estrogen is the hormone that can affect a mother more when:
- She has her monthly period.
- She is taking an oral contraceptive pill.
- She has a lower level of estrogen after childbirth.
- She is on hormone replacement therapy.
* Oxytocin headache: The release of the hormone Oxytocin can also trigger a migraine
- This hormone is released during the letdown of milk and can also cause nausea during breastfeeding. This type of lactation headache will usually subside after a few minutes of breastfeeding.
* Plasma vasopressin is a hormone that is released during breastfeeding. It acts to narrow the blood vessels, which can lead to an increase in blood pressure. This increase in blood pressure can contribute to the development of a headache.
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Treatment for Breastfeeding Headaches
- Relaxation: Make sure you are relaxed while breastfeeding. There are several ways to relax while breastfeeding, including finding a comfortable position, practicing deep breathing, using calming music or white noise, trying visualizations, using relaxation techniques, getting support, and taking breaks. These strategies can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation while breastfeeding.
- Hydrate: Drink at least 2L of water daily. Hydration tips for breastfeeding mothers are discussed here.
- Avoid drinking coffee, as this will dehydrate you.
- Eat well: Breastfeeding diet guidelines.
- Massage therapy has been proven to help with headaches. Massage therapy can help to relieve headaches by decreasing muscle tension, increasing blood and oxygen flow to the head and neck, and promoting relaxation. Massage therapy can also help to reduce stress, which is a common trigger for headaches. Some specific massage techniques that may be helpful for relieving headaches include Swedish massage, which involves long, flowing strokes to relax the muscles; trigger point therapy, which targets specific areas of muscle tension; and acupressure, which involves applying pressure to specific points on the body to relieve pain. It is important to speak with a massage therapist or healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate massage techniques for relieving your particular headache symptoms.
- Take Magnesium. This mineral is extremely important for many bodily functions. Magnesium deficiency is the most common cause (source) of migraine headaches. Just 600mg of oral Magnesium citrate daily can decrease the severity and frequency of headaches. Taking magnesium is a safe and easy way to eliminate chronic lactation headaches. Start with a smaller amount and work your way up, as taking too much may cause diarrhea in some people.
- What else can I take for a headache while breastfeeding? If the above natural methods don’t work, you can take Paracetamol as a painkiller, which is safe to take if breastfeeding.
You are doing what is best for you and your baby by breastfeeding.
In conclusion, breastfeeding headaches are a common issue that can be caused by various factors such as stress, hormonal changes, and other physical conditions. Several treatment options are available, including relaxation techniques, hydration, a healthy diet, massage therapy, and taking magnesium. If these methods do not work, paracetamol can be taken as a painkiller while breastfeeding. If you suffer from constant migraines while breastfeeding, it is important to speak with a doctor.