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Breastfeeding and constant headaches? UPDATED My GP says I should wean :(

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#1 desertflower

Posted 13 January 2008 - 06:47 PM


I'm just wondering if anyone has experienced severe headaches while breastfeeding? I had bad headaches/migranes with both my pregnancies, but unfortunately didn't BF DD1. With DD2 I have been feeding her for 5 months and have had headaches the whole time. Sometimes its just a slight headache that a couple of panadol can look after, other times its a full blown migrane that leaves me in bed for days.

I really want to continue feeding as I love it, but I can't live like this anymore. Also, I'm pretty much always on painkillers which can't be good for bub, aer and it gets in the breastmilk. Other people are pressuring me to wean, but I'm scared that I'll wean her and the headaches will continue. I would be devastated.

Please help if you have experienced this or have any advice!

Thankyou so much

UPDATE: I went to my GP about my headaches, he thinks I should wean, as it is related to hormones. He seems to think it wll be resolved if I wean her. He also said that the medication I have to take for the pain would be in my breastmilk which is a concern. Its okay to take these painkillers every now and then, but not 2-3 times a week like I have been.

I am devastated, I worked so hard to establish breastfeeding, I really don't want to give it up.  sad.gif  sad.gif  sad.gif

Edited by Amebel, 14 January 2008 - 03:00 PM.

#2 2goreousgirls27

Posted 13 January 2008 - 07:11 PM


Sorry to hear about your migranes. sad.gif
I have not experienced this myself however a good friend of mine did.  I'll have to ask her what she did to remedy it, and then I'll post again during the week.

I did find some info on the ABA website that might help you.


On the meds side they had this to say;

"Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and panadeine may be used to treat these headaches. Where stronger medications are required the effects on the breastfed baby need to be taken into consideration. In some, very rare cases, these headaches are so debilitating that the medication necessary for pain relief is not suitable while breastfeeding (Askmark & Lundberg 1989)"

Have you seen a GP about it or even a lactation consultant.
You could even ring the ABA hotline (number is on the webpage)

Hope this helps a little original.gif

#3 musetta

Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:19 AM

Hi Amebel,

Ouch, that hurts!

I'm not sure if my experience would help- but maybe worth a shot? I have whiplash injuries from a car accident, that mean I get headaches really easily- these range from low level irritating, to too painful to move/eat and can last for days! I know how frustrating it is, coping with this, as if you are not actually in pain then you are constantly concerned about doing something that might cause a headache to start. Plus, I think that when I get tired, I feel pain more, not good with a baby!

I found that the posture of breastfeeding (which tends to pull your upper back/neck forward) combined with the weight of holding the baby (especially in the early days) was a real problem. So first thing might be to check out your posture when feeding, and get some advice on this- whether from the ABA or LC.

These things helped:
1)making an effort to eat well, and not skip meals- my headaches are definitely related to stress in muscles, and being tired and hungry is a trigger for me, as that causes me to tense up. I try to do simple things like scrambled eggs, some tuna and chopped tomato on pasta, and try to avoid caffeine (although if the headache is bad, I'll crave caffeine- something about its effect on blood supply to the head, I think!). So I think keeping blood sugar on an even keel is really important.
2)stretch exercises for the shoulders and neck; in the beginning, I had to do these every hour. Initially, it makes things slightly worse  sad.gif and then, within about 24 hours, things started feeling better. I got a referral to the hospital physio for these. I also do warm up exercises from a Pilates book I have- I find 5 minutes every hour is more effective then 1/2 hour once a day, especially if I'm already in pain. Here's some info about migraine and exercise http://www.migrainetrust.org/module_images...with%20logo.pdf
3)acupuncture or massage, but make sure you get a recommendation from someone you trust, and go gently, as it can, again, make things worse in the short term.
4)finally, could you work out a minimal pain killer regime with your GP? I know that if i get to a certain stage, its better to take medication, which stops it getting worse, rather then hold off. But it is a balance- sometimes medication can actually cause headaches (if you take it regularly, for a length of time, your body gets used to it, so you need to take more, and if you stop, you get pain!)

Finally, (and I'm lucky ?!? because this is part of what I do for a job with other people) I had to look at how I viewed pain- and realise that it did not actually mean that I was doing myself further damage, it was due to permanent sensitivity in parts of my body. So either I could spend lots of time trying to avoid it, and let it take control of what I did, or accept that I had ways of managing it, that sometimes it would get the upper hand, but I had ways of bringing it back down again. Learning that exercise helped was really important to this, as it meant I would avoid medication unless it was really bad- and the less you take the medication, the more effective it is!

OK, this has turned into a long post- but I know how frustrating it is, managing a painful condition, and I wish I'd known some of this stuff 5 years ago!

Me 34
Him 34
DS 22.07.07

#4 apple123

Posted 14 January 2008 - 03:10 PM

I have the same issue and think it is an extension of my shoulder/neck pain, which I think is due to bad posture or supporting the baby when breastfeeding. I am seeing my osteopath this week about it and am confident she can fix the problem over a few weeks.

Good luck!

#5 rabbitandminx

Posted 14 January 2008 - 03:38 PM


I also get headaches but as pp it is because of my posture which then puts pressure on my neck/back/shoulders. I also get really bad integestion for the same reasons - as soon as I have been to the chiro for an adjustment I am good again until I start slouching while I feed and then the headaches etc start again

#6 2goreousgirls27

Posted 14 January 2008 - 06:11 PM

Sorry to hear your GP thinks you should wean. sad.gif

If you really don't want to give up BF just yet (sounds like this is the case) perhaps you could explore other ways of managing the pain.

As a PP said you could see an Oesteopath or a Chiropractor to see if this brings some relief.
It would be a shame to give up BF if it was just a pinched nerve or the like.

You could also see a Natropath as they should be able to give you something to help stabalise your hormones if this is the case.

Anyway it is ultimately up to you and what you think is best for you and your baby.

If you are really wanting to continue BF there may be other options for you to persue.

All the best and hope things get better for you either way!! original.gif

Edited by 2goreousgirls27, 14 January 2008 - 06:12 PM.

#7 mibi

Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:07 PM

i had chronic neck pain for 3yrs post a whiplash injury which a chiro fixed over a period of 6mths. I also know a friend who had chronic migraines almost daily since childhood (so around 20yrs). went to a chiro and had gradual improvement over 3mths and eventually not any. It might be worth a go, just to see if it helps.

#8 musetta

Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:54 PM

Hi Amebel,

Hmmm...I know PP has already suggested that you contact the ABA, or an LC about getting some help with posture/using pillows and cushions to take the weight (I found it was really important to support my elbows, when holding DS, for some reason). Or at least it might be good to talk it through- maybe there's a number of feeds you could do that won't cause pain. I know that cutting down on BF will mean supplementing, and your supply dropping, but with BF, a little bit still counts.  It seems to me (from what I've read elsewhere on EB- I don't have experience of this) that weaning can be pretty stressful, in itself. So do be gentle to yourself.

Me 34
Him 34
DS 22.07.07

#9 soufflé

Posted 02 February 2008 - 10:36 PM

Have pm'd you Amebel  original.gif

#10 Titania

Posted 03 February 2008 - 08:44 AM

Have you had an iron test? Could well be an iron deficiency...

Edited by miss-anne-thrope, 03 February 2008 - 08:44 AM.

#11 desertflower

Posted 03 February 2008 - 08:30 PM

Thanks everyone for your replies, its nice to have so many reponses and support!

I have decided I'm not giving up, as she is not doing well with solids at all, and absolutely refuses a bottle. I think she will really need BFing, so I will give that to her.

I have been to a naturopath who has put me on a number of supplments, including zinc and magnesium, as well as a herb called shatavari to help with hormones. I had a full blood count which showed that I have quite low iron (well done miss-anne-thrope!). So I'm also on iron tablets.

I have also had some acupunture done, as it turns out my whole neck and back is absolutely stuffed. I knew my back was stuffed, but my neck was so tight he couldn't actually get the needles in properly, they just popped back out. I had pinched nerves on both sides on my neck.

So no wonder I was getting headaches! It does seem to be better, although I have a shocking headache tonight  rolleyes.gif

Thanks again for your suggestions, hopefully I will be able to continue for as long as possible, as I really don't think my bub would cope very well with weaning.

original.gif  original.gif

#12 rabbitandminx

Posted 04 February 2008 - 08:12 AM

congratulations for exploring all your options and not giving up after the first piece of advice ... fingers crossed you feel heaps better soon  biggrin.gif

Edited by April13th, 04 February 2008 - 08:12 AM.

#13 beachflower

Posted 04 February 2008 - 08:24 AM

All the best with your health, sanity and breastfeeding. I see a chiropractor twice a week and have done for 4 years. I believe a good chiro would be able to work on you and relieve a lot of the problems. My chiro is wonderful with breastfeeding support and advice. I'd be a mess without him!!!

#14 musetta

Posted 04 February 2008 - 02:36 PM

Hi Amebel,

After my last acupuncture session (when I hadn't had one for a while), I felt like I'd been beaten up! It passed pretty quickly- it does seem to me that the first few times (whether its acupuncture, massage, osteo, whatever) it makes it all worse!!! I think its cause your muscles are moving in ways they've been avoiding, due to tension/injury etc.

So hope you're feeling better soon- and sending you lots of supportive thoughts, over the ethernet!

Me 35
Him 34
DS 22.07.07

#15 carilli

Posted 15 March 2008 - 03:09 AM

I have also been having headaches (migraines, with vertigo, vision problems, ringing in my ears, and the feeling of nails in my hands and feet... I can't even drive safely with the kids anymore)... I was still breastfeeding my 9 month old and just had to stop last week.  I also have a 23 month old and between the two boys I could not manage to care for them through the pain.  I took some medication for a few days, stopped breastfeeding for 4 days, but then today I (knowing it was out of my system) I got suckered into giving it another try.  Almost immediately the pain came back to my hands and feet and a dull throbbing in my head started.  Up until then I thought the migraines were separate... I am following up with a neurologist next week, but I feel that after this morning there is a chance that the breastfeeding is causing the problem.  And its not posture or anything like that... the pain came back so quickly I knew it must be part of the lactation.  I realize that these sorts of headaches can come from any or multiple sources, but wanted to document my experience in case anyone else would find it useful.  I breastfed my first son until he was 10 months with zero headaches... of course I was also pregnant at the time... he stopped on his own.  I have been torn up about my decision, but after this morning I am online seeking more information and I know that I cannot take care of the kids/home/marriage with so much pain.  I hope anyone who is having a similar situation is able to work through it better than I could... at least Donovan is 9 months and eating and drinking many other things... but it is a very upsetting decision to have to make... and to follow through with it is even harder.

One more thing... I have had the headaches for 6 months now... have tried changing habits, have done many things that the other people have suggested in their posts... I made it quite a while through the pain, but it just got worse (particularly around PMS)... my biggest fear was that I would wean my baby, medication wouldn't help and it would all be a waste... but I can say that it wasn't a waste.  Since I stopped the breastfeeding and have taken a moderate amount of (interim) medication (until the neurologist gets me set up, and then I might not even have the problem if it has been from the lactation)... I am able to take such better care of my family that it has been worth it.  At this point, I am working to make sure that Donovan has the proper nourishment that he needs, but even more for both of us, I am finding ways to replace the connection that we both notice is gone.  He will forget faster than I will... but there are ways to compensate both the closeness and nutrition if and when your health requires.  And without the pain I have the energy and patience to do it.

Edited by carilli, 15 March 2008 - 03:51 AM.

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