A woman wrapped in a baby blanket sits in a nursery staring ahead

Migraines and Breastfeeding

Last updated: May 2022

In my experience, breastfeeding has a lot of ups and downs.

The pros and cons of breastfeeding

I love the bonding time with my daughter – even during the late-night feeds – and I love that my body can provide for her in this way. I didn’t know if I would get this experience with her, so I’m grateful for as long as it lasts.

I’ve realized, though, that other aspects aren’t as loving – like the aspects of it that make me more prone to a migraine.

My posture while nursing

If I’m not mindful of my posture while nursing, it creates a lot of tension in my upper back, shoulders, and neck that prime me for my next migraine. I felt the tension, but when my osteopathic doctor expressed the importance of posture during breastfeeding for managing my migraines, I started to pay closer attention.

Really, her recommendations are relevant whether you’re breast- or bottle-feeding a baby. So, this can help all the mommas who suffer from migraines out there.

Use props and pillows

The first step for me was using pillows and other props like blankets to support my daughter while she nurses. It enabled me to be hands-free, so I wasn’t having to hold or physically support her during her feeds.

MyBreastFriend or Boppy nursing pillow

There are, of course, so many options on the market that you can buy. MyBreastFriend is a popular one – it’s a foam pillow designed to wrap around your waist and give the baby a surface to lay on while feeding. I’ve found it extremely helpful, but the Boppy nursing pillow is also similar.

Regular pillows and blankets

Of course, the reality is you don’t need a specific nursing pillow. You could create your own setup with the pillows and blankets you already have at home. The goal is to bring the baby up to the level of your breast so they can nurse and you can be hands-free. It's a game-changer from having to hold a baby in your arms for 30 to 40 minutes. It is relieving in and of itself, and I avoid a lot of muscular tension.

Don't look down

I have to admit this next tip, I didn’t like and still don’t like, but it’s helped. My osteopathic doctor asked where I was looking while nursing. At my beautiful baby, of course!

I love admiring all the features on her sweet face. I love seeing how much she changes each week. And I love giving her head a gentle stroke while she nurses. While those moments fill my heart with so much love, they fill my neck and head with a lot of tension.

Looking at my baby creates tension

She explained that when I’m constantly looking down for an extended period, it creates tension at the base of my head and neck. At the time, that’s where I was feeling a lot of tension, and it felt like the root of my migraine, so I knew she was right.

Now I try to gaze straight ahead while she nurses. I certainly look down on occasion, but I can’t deny that it’s made a tremendous difference in how I feel.

Taking steps to avoid migraine

Most importantly, I have more confidence that I’m taking the steps I need to be less prone to a migraine, and that’s worth it! This is just my experience, but I know I’m not alone as a momma with migraines. What have you found helpful in avoiding migraines while navigating the early days of motherhood?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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