Feeling Faint while breastfeeding

Archived Q&A and Reviews

December 2003

Recently I have expereinced an alarming feeling that I am about to faint while nursing, particularly at the end of the day. It is quite scary. I went to the doctor and he said it was just a result of stress/exhaustion, so I have been tryng to get more sleep--but whenever I have a bad night (which, let's face it, is rather unavoidable with a 3-month-old baby) it begins occuring again. In spite of the doctor's assurances I can't help feeling worried, all the more so because i have never heard of others with this problem and can't believe i am that much more stressed/tired than the rest of the mothering world. I love nursing my baby and this is definitely getting in the way. Does anybody know about/have experience with this problem? Are there any other health issues I should be concerned about? (I am generally healthy and did not experience heavy postpartum bleeding or other problems).

Just a thought- are you drinking water or juice while breastfeeding? Have you eaten before feeding? You might want to get in touch with a lactation consultant to ask what she might think about it? Sometimes I feel hot flashes when I feed my son because I think it has to do more with hormones than anything else... good luck and hope it improves.
Poor thing!I'm sure you'll get a lot of solid advice from nursers on this list, but I thought I'd make the obvious point upfront: nursing takes a lot out of your body, and at the end of a busy day, it's probably not unusual for you to feel faint, especially if you've been neglecting your own needs in lieu of the baby's.

Bolster yourself! Remember to eat, and consider snoozing when baby dozes off at your breast. And did I mention to eat? Nettles (infusion or tea) is also a tasty and thirst-quenching tonic, that happens to deliver a whopping dose of iron and other vitamins for you. Good luck to you. Eat, Drink, and no fainting!

I remember feeling completely drained sometimes while nursing-- literally and figuratively. But never fainting. Try calling a lactation consultant, or someone from the La Leche League. Here's the website: http://www.lalecheleague.org/
Your symptoms sound to me like dehydration. A sense of overwhelming fatigue, heaviness and dizzyness are typical. Make sure you drink more water, even if you don't particularly feel thirsty. I didn't have the problem with breastfeeding, but I've certainly experienced pretty severe dehydration a few times and that's how it feels.
Consider looking at your level of water intake. This is hugely critical to nursing moms. Some moms grab the water each time they nurse to relax and rehydrate. Having that habit can help. Another issue is maintaining a healthy blood sugar level with adequate calories. Lactating moms need even more calories per day than when pregnant. Your support system, family and friends, might lend a hand by bringing easy to reheat meals so you need not forage in snack-land for a bite. Nutrient-dense foods are the best.
Hi. I am not sure this is the same thing but... When my son was very young (the first 10 weeks, esp), nursing was very painful for me (due to torn up nipples) and I sometimes felt that I was going to faint. I asked his pediatrician and she told me to always nurse in a safe place, where neither of us could fall very far. If I did faint, I suppose she was implying, I would come to quickly and we would both be OK. I never did faint, but it was scary. Also, of course, take care of yourself and make sure you are keeping your blood sugar levels high enough -- are you eating every couple of hours? I fainted during pregnancy due to low blood sugar. Good luck and get in touch if you want to discuss any other breast-feedign challenges.
Extended sleep deprivation can do wacky things and mess with your mind! A mom-friend would always point out when we'd complain about it: ''remember, sleep deprivation is used in some countries as a form of torture...'' I'm not a doctor but it sounds like what you're feeling is do to lack of sleep because it happens at the end of the day and isn't an issue when you do get rest. If it were a medical condition you would most likely feel faint at other times of day as well. Everyone says nap when your baby naps. I know it's hard to do as as it's the only time you have sometimes to get things done. But if you learn to nap you will feel so much better.

Are you eating enough throughout the day? That could also be contributing to how you feel. Try having some snacks handy wherever you tend to nurse. A good piece of advice the teacher at our birth preperation class gave us is that when nursing those first couple of months you should eat like a diabetic - complex carbohydrates and protein. You also need to snack throughout the day. That will help your energy level and keep your glucose stable. Don't worry, those pregnancy pounds will go away even if you are eating more as long as you are eating sensibly.

Hi, this sounds very unsettling, nerve-wracking and odd. I was wondering when this feeling of being about to faint started? And if you have any other general feelings of anxiety, depression, or irritability? I'm a psychotherapist who specializes in postpartum mood disorders and your post made me wonder if your feeling like you're going to faint might be associated with that. Of course, you want to rule out a purely medical conditions. But, clearly, hormones play a significant part of postpartum states, too.

I'd be more than happy to speak with you to try to figure out if you may be experiencing a post-partum mood reaction. Fortunately, treatment works to help women overcome post-partum depression and anxiety.

The explanation that occurs immediately to me is that you're dehydrated. Keep a sport bottle of water or a large pitcher and cup in *every* location where you typically nurse your baby and everywhere else you think it might be convenient; you need to consume a *lot* of liquids while exclusively nursing a newborn! (If plain water is unappealing, try adding a little fruit juice to it.)

You may also be having blood sugar problems if you're finding it difficult to keep yourself fed while you care for your baby during the day. Keep things you can eat one-handed (cheese & crackers, carrot sticks) around so that you don't go too long between snacks/meals, and make sure you get at least a little protein every few hours.

I had a similar experience... though I'm not sure if it lasted 3 months. I remember it happening a lot earlier on. I believed it was from the rush of hormones released when breast feeding - those feel-good chemicals felt so good I almost passed out! I became concerned because I almost fell forward out of the glider chair once, with my babe in arms! Anyway, it eventually passed. Nevertheless, you should consult a doctor about it.
When my baby was newborn until about 5 months old I would feel very weak and the room would start to spin when I would have the middle of the night feeding. The remedy was eating something. Once I ate I felt so much better and the room would stop spinning. I have never tried to diet while I breastfeeding but I there were many times I didn't get the extra 500 calories I needed to produce milk, and just keep my energy up. It was when I would get too busy to think about food. I would recommend eating a few minutes before you feed and see if that helps...and make sure you are getting enough calories throughout the day.
I had a similar problem when I was nursing. The things that helped me most were eating more and drinking water constantly. I don't know about you, but I felt hungry all the time. Having a bottle of water and dish of almonds by your side when you nurse might be an easy answer. I ate a lot of Clif bars (just my preference of bars, there are about a zillion out there). Also drinks like gatorade or others that replace electrolytes were helpful.