There is some data to suggest that migraine severity and frequency may reduce during the time in which women are breastfeeding. For example, there is a 2013 article in ‘Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain’ with data that suggests migraine may improve during breastfeeding. However, more than half of female migraine sufferers experience migraine recurrence within one month of giving birth. Why?
Well, there are many things which new parents will be experiencing which may be contributing factors in the resumption of migraine attacks.
Tiredness and disturbed sleep have to be the first factors of note. These are both common migraine triggers, and since newborn babies don’t sleep through the night and need feeding every few hours, getting unbroken sleep is almost impossible.
Missed meals is another trigger. A drop in blood-sugar levels is a trigger for migraine attacks, but remembering to eat at regular times isn’t easy when you have a new baby around.
Dehydration is a trigger of migraines too, and one which is all too easy to get if you’re breastfeeding. You’re losing far more fluid than usual, so you need to drink more. Easier said than done when you’ve already got so much to think about and you’re running on so little sleep. All of these environmental factors around breastfeeding, rather than the act of breastfeeding itself, could be reasons why so many women see a return of their migraine attacks so soon. There is little evidence to suggest that postpartum migraine attacks are a result of breastfeeding.