Nausea When Breastfeeding: Causes, Treatment and Home Remedies

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Nausea is an unpleasant sensation that may cause a strong urge to vomit. While it is common during pregnancy, some women may also experience nausea during breastfeeding (1). Nausea after childbirth may be related to lactation, but it may not be as common during pregnancy.

Read this post as we bring information about home remedies, medications, causes, and tips to prevent nausea during breastfeeding.

Does Breastfeeding Make You Nauseous?

Breastfeeding does not directly cause nausea. But various factors associated with breastfeeding might trigger the condition in some women. For instance, lifestyle changes and hormonal changes could cause nausea. We give you more details about the reasons, later in the post.

Home Remedies For Nausea In Nursing Mothers

The following natural remedies are traditionally used, while their efficacy is mostly anecdotal.

1. Ginger tea

Ginger tea might help reduce nausea when breastfeeding

Image: Shutterstock

Ginger tea might be helpful in reducing nausea. Moreover, ginger is also a proven “galactagogue,” which means it helps increase breast milk production (2).

2. Peppermint tea

Some women find peppermint tea refreshing. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes peppermint tea as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). However, consuming an excess of peppermint tea could exacerbate nausea and may lead to heartburn and vomiting (3).

3. Aroma oils

Anecdotal evidenceiXThe evidence based on individual experiences and observations. suggests that smelling some aroma oils like those made from lemon, spearmint, cardamom, etc., might help in relieving nausea. It is suggested to use them in moderation and keep at a safe distance from the baby to avoid accidental ingestion.

4. Others

  • Sucking on a slice of lemon.
  • Having instant carbs such as a rusk or toast.
  • Consuming water during breastfeeding helps relieve most of the gastric complaints. You can either have it plain, boiled or infused with cucumber, mint leaves, lemon, etc.

Consult your doctor or a lactation consultant before using these home remedies. Stop using them if you find any reduction or alteration in breast milk production or if you notice any effects on the baby.

Quick tip
Acupressure wrist bands, found helpful in reducing nausea and vomiting of pregnancy may be effective during breastfeeding (13)

Can You Take Medicines For Nausea When Breastfeeding?

Domperidone and metoclopramide are usually prescribed for nausea

Image: Shutterstock

Never self-medicate, but consult a doctor if your condition doesn’t improve. Doctors usually prescribe domperidoneiXMedication used to treat nausea and vomiting and allows the food move easily through the stomach.  and metoclopramideiXMedication used to treat stomach and intestinal issues.  as they are considered safe and are not known to adversely affect the breastfed infant. However, they should be used for a short time and only on a doctor’s prescription. Monitor the nursing infant for a few hours after taking medicine to see if there are any adverse effects such as drowsiness, etc. (4).

What Causes Nausea When Breastfeeding?

Here are some possible reasons for feeling nauseous when breastfeeding:

1. Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a hormone that signals the mother’s breast to release milk, and the phenomenon is known as “milk let-down” or “milk-ejection reflex.” The hormone can lead to certain changes in a mother’s body, with nausea being one of them (5).

2. Dehydration

Dehydration can happen in nursing mothers because of the loss of fluid during breastfeeding. It might lead to nausea (6).

3. Hunger

On average, a breastfeeding mother needs 400 to 500 extra calories a day (7). Insufficient diet to meet the extra demand for calories can lead to hunger. An empty stomach makes you feel nauseous. Hunger can also increase the risk of acid reflux, which might lead to heartburn and nausea.

4. Fatigue

New mothers often have insufficient sleep and experience fatigue. These conditions might add up to the other triggers to make you feel nauseous.

5. Increased demand for milk

Increase in breast milk production further alters the hormones

Image: Shutterstock

As the baby grows, their requirement for breastmilk increases. The increase in breast milk production can further alter the hormones, thus increasing the chances of nausea.

6. Postpartum depression

The doctor might prescribe antidepressants to mothers experiencing post-natal depression. These medicines are safe for the baby but might cause nausea as a side effect (8).

7. Pregnancy

If nausea and vomiting continue even for several weeks or months after delivery, then take a pregnancy test. Nausea might occur due to a new pregnancy. Although most women experience nausea in pregnancy, it worsens when you are both pregnant and breastfeeding (9).

Quick fact
Nausea and vomiting along with fever, headache or breast tenderness may be symptoms of an infection post childbirth. Seek immediate medical help (14).

Tips To Prevent Nausea When You Are Breastfeeding

The following tips might help you prevent nausea when you are breastfeeding.

1. Have sips of water through your breastfeeding session. You may also drink homemade sugar-free fresh juices, soups, broths, etc., to keep yourself hydrated.

2. Keep some munchies like crackers, dried fruits, etc., handy to munch on them when you are hungry.

3. Eat wholesome and nutritious food. Avoid junk food, greasy, fatty, and spicy food, as it can lead to gastroesophageal refluxiXA condition where stomach acids flow back into the food pipe. and nausea.

4. Take rest whenever you can. Sleep when the baby sleeps and seek help from family and friends.

5. Nausea during breastfeeding can also be managed like you would have managed nausea during pregnancy. Avoid the things that trigger nausea.

Quick tip
Probiotics may help deal with gastrointestinal issues and reduce nausea (15). Kefir and yogurt may be useful (16).
Avoid things that trigger nausea when breastfeeding

Image: Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is nausea a symptom of mastitis?

Nausea can be present with mastitis. Although nausea can be a symptom of mastitisiXBreast tissue infection causing redness, pain, and swelling in the breast. , it is not specific since it can be associated with various reasons in the postpartum period. Nausea can be present with breast tenderness, warmness, pain or soreness, and flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and body ache in mastitis (10).

2. Why does breastfeeding make my stomach upset?

Breastfeeding can cause cramping abdominal pain, often interpreted as stomach pain or stomach upset in immediate postpartum days. This can be due to the release of hormones that cause uterine contractionsiXMuscle contractions in the uterus that happen during periods and labor. while breastfeeding. These hormones help the uterus shrink and return to its normal size over time (11). This means breastfeeding plays a role in the shrinking of the postpartum belly.

3. How much water should I drink while breastfeeding?

Sipping water helps reduce nausea. It is recommended to consume 3.8 liters of water per day during breastfeeding. This is more than the daily water requirement for non-pregnant and pregnant women. You may increase water intake by 800mL/day in the first six months postpartum, that is, during exclusive breastfeeding, and 650mL/day after six months to balance the water loss from the body through breast milk (12).

Just when you think you are liberated from the symptoms of morning sickness of pregnancy, you may be taken aback when you experience nausea when breastfeeding. Although it is uncommon, some women may have nausea after delivery while nursing their infant. Changes in your routine or hormones could be to blame for this. However, you may easily manage this condition with some home care tips and precautions. If you are concerned about nausea while breastfeeding, you may consult a doctor or speak to a lactation consultant to determine the causes and treatment options.

Infographic: Tips To Prevent Nausea For Breastfeeding Mothers

Nausea, commonly perceived as a classic pregnancy sign, is not limited to pregnancy but could make a comeback postpartum too. Hormonal factors could make you nauseous while breastfeeding, which is manageable with simple home-care measures. So, follow the tips in the infographic below to prevent nausea during your nursing sessions.

tips to prevent nausea for breastfeeding mothers [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Noel M. Lee and Sumona Saha, Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy; US National Library of Medicine
2. Paritakul P et al., The Effect of Ginger on Breast Milk Volume in the Early Postpartum Period: A Randomized, Double-Blind Controlled Trial; US National Library of Medicine
3. Peppermint; National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
4. Safety in Lactation: Drugs used in nausea and vertigo; National Health Service
5. Kerstin Uvnas Moberg and Danielle K. Prime, Oxytocin effects in mothers and infants during breastfeeding; The Infant Journal
6. Dehydration; US National Library of Medicine
7. Losing Weight While Breast-feeding; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
8. Postnatal depression; Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
9. Pregnant and Breastfeeding?; La Leche League
10. Plugged Ducts, Mastitis, And Thrush; WIC Breastfeeding Support
11. Nursing Cramps; HealthyChildren
12. Saptawati Bardosono, et al; 2016; Fluid Intake of Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women in Indonesia: A Cross-Sectional Survey with a Seven-Day Fluid Specific Record; National Library of Medicine
13. Nancy M. Steele et al.; Effect of Acupressure by Sea-Bands
on Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy; Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing

14. Potential Postpartum Complications; Beaumont Hospital
15. Albert T. Liu et al.; Probiotics Improve Gastrointestinal Function and Life Quality in Pregnancy; National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
16. Pelin Basım and Yaşar Özdenkaya; Can Traditional Fermented Food Products Protect Mothers Against Lactational Mastitis; National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

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