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Nausea When Breastfeeding: Causes, Treatment and Home Remedies

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Nausea is an unpleasant sensation that creates a strong urge to vomit. While it is common during pregnancy (1), for some women, nausea continues after delivery and during the breastfeeding phase too. The nausea is often related to lactation, but it is not as common as it is during pregnancy.

In this MomJunction post, we will tell you about the causes, treatment, home remedies, 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 causes. 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 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 evidence 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 dice of lemon.
  • Having instant carbs such as a rusk or toast.
  • Consuming water during breastfeeding helps most of the gastric complaints to reduce. 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.

Can You Take Medicines For Nausea When Breastfeeding?

Never self-medicate, but consult a doctor if your condition doesn’t improve. Doctors usually prescribe domperidone and metoclopramide 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

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).

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 reflux 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.

Nausea while breastfeeding might not be common. However, if it happens, it can be managed through some tips and precautions. Talk to your doctor or lactation consultant and follow their instructions.

References:

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

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