I Have Headaches and Am Tired While Breastfeeding

Headaches and tiredness are common complaints among new mothers. Medical conditions, stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, certain nursing positions and trying to do too much all contribute to headaches and tiredness in breastfeeding mothers. Fortunately, you can prevent most headaches and tiredness with rest and good nutrition along with support from others, and treat your symptoms with over-the-counter or prescription medications safe for lactation.

A woman laying down holding an ice pack to her head. (Image: IvonneW/iStock/Getty Images)

Lifestyle Causes

Stress related to breastfeeding problems, changes in daily life due to caring for a new baby, and tightening their shoulder and neck muscles while they nurse leaves many mothers with headaches and feeling fatigued. Dehydration is a common cause of headaches and tiredness, and breastfeeding mothers require more fluids because producing breast milk uses up some of your own fluid intake. Lack of sleep from getting up at all hours to nurse leads to headaches and tiredness in many mothers. Overdoing caffeine causes headaches and tiredness in some women, and conversely, not drinking your usual amount of caffeine also triggers headaches and tiredness, advises the National Library of Medicine website.

Medical Causes

Hormone changes after childbirth, complications from your delivery, medications you received during and after labor are all triggers for postpartum headaches and tiredness in nursing mothers. Postpartum depression causes symptoms such as tiredness, despair and headaches in new mothers, and difficulties with breastfeeding are a cause of postpartum depression in some women, explains the Mayo Clinic website. After childbirth, problems with your thyroid, such as postpartum thyroiditis or Hashimoto's disease, are causes of headaches, fatigue and changes in your metabolism.


Treat mild headaches at home with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which are safe for lactating women. Taking a nap while you nurse helps reduce tiredness, and drinking a cup of water during each nursing session in addition to your usual water intake helps reduce headaches and tiredness due to dehydration. Physicians treat women with postpartum thyroid disorders with synthetic thyroid hormones, which are safe for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mothers with postpartum depression who are concerned about passing medications into their milk often seek treatment through counseling, although many antidepressant medications are safe for breastfeeding, advises the Mayo Clinic website.


Seek help from others for getting things done around your home during the early months of breastfeeding when your baby frequently wants to nurse. If someone else can do the laundry, clean, or take care of the yard, this allows you time to rest with your baby and take care of yourself. Eating a nutritious diet and drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps prevent headaches and tiredness related to dehydration and depletion of your vitamins and minerals. Breastfeeding mothers with postpartum depression often find relief in attending support groups and counseling sessions to prevent complications from this serious health issue.

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