Woman lying on her back with her hands on her face.

Got a Breastfeeding Headache? Know the Triggers and How to Prevent Them.

Interesting Feb 5, 2021

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.

breastfed baby, beautiful breastfeeding
Baby crying

What Can Cause a Breastfeeding Headache?

  • Stress and noise.
  • Discontinued use of medications.
  • Weaning too rapidly.
  • PPD (depression) can cause a nursing headache.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Blood pressure problems.
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Dehydration.
  • Allergies.
  • 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 released during breastfeeding, which narrows the blood vessels, causing a headache.

Treatment for Breastfeeding Headaches

  • Relaxation: Make sure you are relaxed 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.
  • 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.

The benefits of breastfeeding.


Tracy Behr

Mom of two, breastfeeding helper, and lover of all things natural! Studying a breastfeeding counselor course via Childbirth int. & plant-based nutrition via the Nutrition Inst.

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