Lactation Headache (Breastfeeding Headache, Postpartum Headache, Headache After Pregnancy, Puerperal Headache)

Lactation Headache
Body Parts: Head
Medical Subjects: Women's Health

What Is Lactation Headache?

The puerperium is also called the postpartum period, which refers to the period when the mother's pregnancy-related physiological changes return to a non-pregnant state after delivery. During this period, the mother's head pain can be defined as puerperal headache.

Different studies may have different definition methods, such as whether or not breastfeeding, the time span may include 2 to 4 days postpartum to 1 year postpartum.


What Causes Lactation Headache?

The causes of lactation headache include hormones and other physical changes, sleep deprivation, irregular eating, psychological stress, and fatigue.

In addition, many women have received intraspinal anesthesia or used vasoactive drugs (such as ergot drugs) during childbirth, which are also risk factors for headaches.

Are lactation headache common in women?

Most patients with lactation headache have mild or moderate headaches, and the most common causes are tension-type headaches, migraines, and musculoskeletal/cervicogenic headaches.

The range and incidence of the causes are different in different populations. For example, a study in the United States showed that the types and incidence of headaches in puerperium women who have severe persistent headaches within 24 hours to 42 days after delivery are as follows:

  • Tension headache (39%)
  • Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia headache (24%)
  • Headache after dural puncture (PDPH, 16%)
  • Migraine (11%)
  • Pituitary hemorrhage/tumor headache (3%)
  • Cerebral venous system thrombotic headache (3%)
  • Other (4%)

What Are The Symptoms And Manifestations Of Lactation Headache Patients?

Common lactation headache are as follows:

  • Migraine: It is often (but not necessarily) unilateral and often pulsatile. Concomitant features of the attack may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia, phonophobia, or olfactory fear.
  • Tension-type headache: The typical manifestation is mild to moderate bilateral non-pulsatile headache without other characteristics, which is a rather featureless headache.
  • Cluster headache: characterized by severe unilateral orbital or temporal pain episodes, accompanied by autonomic symptoms, which may include ptosis, miosis, tearing, conjunctival congestion, runny nose, periorbital edema, facial sweating, and nasal congestion. The attack usually lasts 15 to 180 minutes.

How Is Lactation Headache Diagnosed?

Most pregnant women with primary headache syndrome (tension-type headache, migraine, cluster headache) have been diagnosed before pregnancy.

Women with a previous history of headaches may continue to have headaches during pregnancy. If their characteristic symptoms do not change and preeclampsia is excluded, there is no need to repeat complex diagnostic tests.

Pre-eclampsia has been ruled out, but new or atypical headaches in pregnant women, about half are migraines, and the other half are headaches caused by other different factors. At this time, a detailed medical history should be collected and a physical examination should be performed. Women with severe underlying disease symptoms should receive a diagnostic evaluation in time.

Migraine, tension-type headache, and cluster headache can be diagnosed by specific clinical criteria.


How To Prevent Lactation Headache?

A healthy lifestyle may be beneficial in preventing lactation headache, including good sleeping habits, regular dietary arrangements, and regular exercise.

Non-pharmacological treatments that are beneficial for headache prevention during pregnancy include aerobic exercise, biofeedback, other forms of relaxation training, cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and skin nerve stimulation.


How To Treat Lactation Headache?

According to the basic causes of headache, postpartum women who are not breast-fed can use the same therapeutic drugs as non-pregnant women. Specific medication is recommended by the doctor's prescription.

Drugs that are secreted into breast milk and may be harmful to the baby should not be used. Advice on medication for breast-feeding mothers should be consulted with pharmacists, obstetricians or pediatricians, or inquired in relevant authoritative books and databases.

What is the prognosis of lactation headache?

Simple headaches will resolve within a few weeks, but they may continue to occur until the baby is weaned. If the headache is caused by other diseases, you need to cooperate with your doctor for medication.

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