Breastfeeding headache was first described in 1989, but has probably been happening to nursing mothers since time began.
Headaches after delivery of a baby are very common, and most are attributed to migraine, fatigue, blood pressure changes or low pressure if an spinal anaesthetic was given.
A very small number of women will get a headache only during breastfeeding, called lactation headache.
The key feature to diagnosing this rare headache is to realise that it is association of onset of headache with breast-feeding. The headache should settle once breast feeding stops.
During breast feeding, suckling causes the pituitary to release a hormone called oxytocin, which causes the milk ducts to expel milk into the baby's mouth.
Oxytocin may also cause smooth muscle in arteries to contract.
It is presumably this smooth muscle contraction in arteries in the head that causes these very rare instances of lactation headache.
Oxytocin is also released into the bloodstream during sex. Oxytocin has been proposed (but not proven) as a cause of Sexual Activity Headache.
Can Breastfeeding (Lactation) Headache be serious?
There is one case, I know of, where a headache that developed following delivery and during breastfeeding was due to a small haemorrhage into the pituitary gland.
However, this headache persisted and was severe which raised the alarm that this was not a simple headache.
Askmark H, Lundberg PO. Lactation headache-a new form of headache? Cephalalgia 1989;9:119-22 (Free Abstract only)
RV D’Costa An unusual postpartum headache. Endocrine Abstracts 2005;10:13. (Free Abstract only)
Go Back to Strange Headaches from Breastfeeding Headache
Severe-Headache-Expert Home Page is Here