There are quite a few mothers that say they experience nausea while breastfeeding. They say they feel the same type of nausea experienced when hungry and have described it as coming in waves, like normal morning sickness.
Some mothers experience some itching with nausea, usually under their arms and breasts.
What Causes Nausea When Breastfeeding?
- The release of the hormone Oxytocin during milk let-down is what causes nausea. It is the same hormone that is associated with digestion and other gut hormones. Most times, nausea caused by the release of Oxytocin disappears after about eight weeks from birth. If a mother is feeling nauseous after this eight week period, she should consider doing a pregnancy test.
- Your body may need extra calories to keep its functions at optimal levels while breastfeeding. Remember your body’s first responsibility will be to produce excellent (calorie loaded) milk for your baby, whether you are eating more or not; this means that any deficiency in the diet will be apparent in the mother, not in the mother’s breast milk. To work out how many extra calories you need, use our breastfeeding calorie calculator.
- Dehydration can cause nausea during breastfeeding. Some mothers find that drinking about three glasses of water just before breastfeeding helps to decrease nausea.
- Your body is still recovering from being pregnant. During pregnancy, many changes take place, especially hormone-related changes. After birth, all these things need to go back to normal.
- Nausea can also occur when your baby goes through a growth spurt, during these times a baby will usually drink more, which will cause hormone levels to spike, resulting in nausea.
- Antidepressants taken during breastfeeding can also cause nausea breastfeeding.
- Low blood pressure in a breastfeeding mother may cause nausea.
- Urinary tract infection can also cause nausea in mothers that breastfeed.
Iron deficiency causes nausea while breastfeeding. Mothers that have lost a lot of blood during delivery may struggle with an iron deficiency. Take your vitamins, get to the doc if you think you might have an iron deficiency.
- Feeling emotional during breastfeeding.
- Headaches also called "lactation headaches."
How to Stop Nausea During Breastfeeding
- The bouts of nausea should not continue for longer than eight weeks, so just wait it out.
- Try eating/drinking products with ginger in it.
- Eat a combination of protein and carbs before breastfeeding, and make sure you snack in-between meals. 6 small meals during the day will keep your blood sugar levels constant.
- Increase the amount of liquid (especially water) intake that you consume daily.
- Drink a glass of milk while you are breastfeeding.
- Keep something like a dry cracker near while breastfeeding, just to keep nausea at bay.
- Make sure you are getting in enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can also cause nausea while nursing.
- Sea bands used for motion sickness has also been found to help.
- Some mothers say they feel less nauseous if they breastfeed while lying down.
Mothers should ensure that their diets are not the cause of the dizziness during breastfeeding. Make sure your calorie intake is at least 2500 daily.
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Headaches During Breastfeeding
- Some mothers experience a headache when they start a breastfeeding session, and this is also caused by the release of Oxytocin, during milk let-down.
- Other mothers find that engorgement causes their headaches and that as soon as they start a breastfeeding session, the headache begins to subside.
- If you are nursing while pregnant, nausea associated with pregnancy might seem worse.
Stopping headaches during breastfeeding
- Relax while breastfeeding (your headache could be stress related)
- Breast massage can help drain full breasts that cause breastfeeding headaches.
- Getting enough rest will help prevent a headache.
- Drink plenty of water: Your body may warn you, in the form of a headache that you are dehydrated.
- A breastfeeding mother can take ibuprofen, paracetamol and panadeine. Do not use aspirin if breastfeeding.
During pregnancy, Relaxin hormones are released to cause your pelvis to expand and veins to relax. These levels of Relaxin are higher than average for the first few months after delivery.In some mothers, these Relaxin hormones can cause low blood pressure, which in turn cause dizziness. If the dizziness is really bad, you might want to talk to your doctor about it.
"Hello, I have a 10 months baby girl who is breastfed and who is eating solids.
I have been suffering from headaches for 7 months now. I had an MRI done and everything is okay. They can't find the reason for the pain.
The frequency is almost every day, and my life is difficult. I am taking paracetamol, but I have a pain at the top of my head that cannot be fixed with pain medication.
I am so desperate! I also tried acupuncture."
Re: Hormonal headache
It could be a hormonal headache; they are quite common. I know a lot of people might disagree with me on this, but in your specific situation, my advice is to start weaning slowly.
Your baby has already received ten months of the best start possible. If it means that you have a better quality of life and that you will enjoy your baby more, then go for it. You have, it seems, already done some research and have ruled out most other causes.
Its better for your child to be formula fed and have a happy, healthy mommy than a miserable mommy who provides breast milk."
"Thanks, Tracy for your response. It's nice to be understood and to feel supported.
I am happy to start weaning my baby and last week I bought the formula. She doesn't seem to like it. I am trying to give her more food and water and less breast milk. I will let you know if the headaches disappear.
Thanks again for your advice and again bravo to your site, which has helped me see that some people experience headaches related to breastfeeding."