Breast milk is an elixir for your baby. And it certainly has mutual benefits to the mother and the baby. It could provide lifelong immunity to the child and help the mother to lose her pregnancy weight. But breastfeeding is not always as easy as it sounds. Postpartum body aches, sore nipples, lack of sleep could worsen the journey. On top of that, if you are suffering from a headache as well, it could only multiply the problems and make you feel terrible. Have you also suffered from such lactation headaches? Here is why and what you could do about it!
Causes of Lactation Headache:
1. Mastitis: Mastitis is a condition in which the blocking or clogging of milk ducts occurs due to infection or when the milk is not released properly. The improper release of milk might be a cause of insufficient breastfeeding (might be because of improper latching of the baby to the nipples) to the baby or infrequent breastfeeding. When the milk is not released frequently, it keeps accumulating in the milk duct causing blocked duct. It might also lead to bacterial infection. Symptoms of mastitis include tenderness in breast, pain, fatigue and headache. IT could also cause fever.
2. Migraine: the throbbing and intense pulsating pain which could last for a few minutes to several days are called migraines. This is chronic by nature. If you have a history of migraines, the probable reason to have a lactation headache could be a migraine. The hormonal changes, stress, lifestyle, lack of sleep or genetics could be the cause of a migraine.
3. Postpartum headache: This usually occurs during the first week of their delivery. As soon as you deliver the baby, the estrogen levels start to drop. This could cause a headache and depression. As a result, you can suffer from a dull pain in your head each time your nurse your baby.
4. Dehydration: breast milk is almost 88% water. When you start lactating, your body needs extra water to meet the increased demand of water and that is why it is recommended for nursing moms to drink more water than the usually recommended amount of water for adults. If your body is not getting the sufficient amount of water, it might suffer from mild to severe dehydration and this could lead to a headache.
5. Fatigue: It is common for new mums to experience post-delivery fatigue. It might be due to sleep deprivation, nutrient deficiency, frequent feeding at night, taking care of the baby all the time. These reasons could cause dull chronic lactation headaches in a few mums.
6. Medications: Certain medicines vitamin B6, although safe for nursing mothers, could cause a headache as a possible side effect. It might happen when the medicines are taken in the higher dose. In such cases, using a lesser concentration version of the same medicine will help. Sometimes, the self-medication or over-the-counter medicines could also trigger a headache.
7. Wrong posture: Adopting a wrong posture (such as bending down too much while nursing, looking down too much) while nursing the baby could stress the neck and back muscles. This could cause a headache.
Treatment for Lactation Headache:
1. Find the unlying issue and treat: a Lactation headache could be due to various reasons such as said earlier. Finding the issue and treating it could help in treating the headache.
2. Cold compress could save you: As simple as a cold compress could sometimes soothe your headache
3. Lots of rest: Motherhood is a tedious journey. Especially first few months, you may have to work like a beaver. So make time to rest amidst all the chores. Arrange someone to take care of household chores and also your baby. Plenty of rest could ease your headache and provide you comfort even while feeding your baby.
4. Have balanced diet: Never give yourself an excuse to skip meals. Since you are breastfeeding, you and your child both need a nutritious and well-balanced food. So keep healthy snacks handy to satisfy your hunger pangs and have proper, healthy and sufficient food during the meal time.
5. Avoid screens: just like a coin has 2 sides, even Mobiles, Tabs, Laptops, Computers have their pros and cons. Usage of too much screens, especially in the initial weeks after delivery, could affect to a greater extent. Even reading in low light could affect. So make sure you reduce the usage and whenever you want, make sure you have sufficient light and don't strain your eyes.
6. Sufficient sleep: Yes, getting sufficient sound sleep may not be possible after delivery. But make sure you take a nap whenever your baby is sleeping. Taking frequent naps relaxes your body and reduces headache.
7. Drink well: As already mentioned, dehydration could cause headache. So Chuck it by having plenty of water and staying well hydrated. Keep sipping the water throughout the day.
8. Feed the baby well: Feeding the baby well could help in preventing the engorged breast or mastitis. The best practice is to let your baby have the milk entirely from one breast before switching to the other. This way you could avoid the headaches and also ensure your baby is getting sufficient hindmilk.
No matter what you go through post-delivery, no matter how tedious the journey might look like, at the end of the day, you would undoubtedly love it and embrace it. So, ensure that the journey you would love never feels painful. With the above tips, you can avoid a lactation headache and definitely enjoy breastfeeding your child!