migraine headaches

Topic: Can breastfeeding cause or worsen migraine headaches?

There is not enough clear evidence to say whether breastfeeding can improve or worsen migraine headaches.

According to a 2013 article in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face PainTrusted Source, some data suggest migraine may improve during breastfeeding. Still, more than 50% of people experience migraine recurrence with 1 month of delivery.

Primary headaches, which include migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches, are commonTrusted Source in pregnancy and postpartum.

While migraine may improve during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, many people often experience the onset of migraine episodes in the first days and weeks after birth.

Among females who have experienced past migraine headaches, the American Migraine Foundation says that:

  • 1 in 4 will experience migraine within the first 2 weeks after birth
  • almost 50% will experience a migraine episode in the first month

Additionally, 5% of females who have never experienced migraine may have their first migraine postpartum. This may be because of fluctuating hormones in the days after birth.

While the American Migraine Foundation does not mention breastfeeding as a factor in the onset or worsening of migraine, it does note many contributing factors to migraine that new parents will likely recognize, such as:

  • tiredness and fatigue
  • broken sleep
  • missing meals
  • being dehydrated

Breastfeeding can be exhausting in the early days and weeks, and night feeds can cause disrupted sleep. Many people may forget to nourish and hydrate themselves while feeding their infants. All these environmental factors around breastfeeding could contribute to migraine headaches.

What medications are safe to take?

Several medications are safe to take for migraine headaches while breastfeeding. These include:

  • acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen (Advil), diclofenac, or naproxen (Aleve)
  • sumatriptan (Imitrex)

There is conflicting messaging on whether other medications, such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and anticonvulsant medications, are safe to use during breastfeeding. A doctor can provide advice on the risks and benefits of these medications while breastfeeding.

Factors that a healthcare professional will take into consideration when prescribing medications may include:

  • the benefits to the infant and person breastfeeding
  • the risks of drug exposure to the baby or breast milk production
  • when a person should take the medication and how long they should take it

People who want to take prescription medication not currently approved for pregnancy or breastfeeding should speak to a healthcare professional about available options.

Topic Discussed: Can breastfeeding cause or worsen migraine headaches?

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