Why pumping breast milk may cause you to feel dizzy.
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If You’re Feeling Dizzy While Pumping, This Could Be Why

Hint: it’s normal, but maybe you just need a snack.

Originally Published: 

Choosing to breastfeed your baby isn’t always the easy, natural thing it’s often made out to be. Breastfeeding comes with a ton of challenges, some of the worst involving that confounding piece of machinery: the breast pump. Breast pumps are both a complete lifesaver and a total pain, and pumping takes a lot of mental and physical labor — and it could even take a major toll on your body. If you’re feeling woozy or dizzy while pumping breast milk, it’s not a figment of your imagination.

Can pumping breast milk make you feel dizzy or sick?

It’s actually pretty common for mothers to feel nauseous or dizzy while pumping or breastfeeding, according to Risa Klein, certified nurse-midwife (CNM) of Manhattan Midwife. “Pumping breast milk takes work, extra calories, and energy, and if you are not eating or drinking enough, it’s possible to become dizzy or lightheaded while pumping breast milk for your baby.”

Klein recommends pumping and breastfeeding mothers eat as though they are pregnant, which means consuming about 500 extra calories daily, to keep their milk supply abundant and their strength up. “I also ask them to eat a nutritious high-protein snack or meal, and drink water or another healthy beverage, while sitting and pumping,” Klein says. (No, I won’t tell anyone if your high-protein snack is a bag of peanut M&Ms.)

Mothers who are pumping or breastfeeding need to eat before pumping in order to avoid dizziness. Dehydration can also play a major role in feeling dizzy while pumping, says New York-based lactation consultant Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC. “Making milk makes many moms very thirsty, as water is needed for your body to make milk.” Drinking a large glass of water before or during pumping can help to ease any dizziness, she says.

What can cause dizziness while pumping other than dehydration or hunger?

Klein also believes that dizziness can be anxiety-based at times, not only hydration or calorie-related. “If a woman is ‘pumping on the run,’ or in what may be a stressful environment, like in the office or during a lunch break, it could create a layer of anxiety over the process. When rushing, women can become anxious, and that can cause shortness of breath or dizziness.” Stress and anxiety can also affect milk production, so it’s important to try to stay calm and comfortable.

“I encourage my clients to ask their managers to create a safe pumping area in the office that’s not in the bathroom,” Klein continues.

Dizziness while pumping is something that can be largely avoided with preventative measures, but if you feel constantly dizzy while nursing or pumping, talk to your doctor right away for some personalized input to help keep you feeling your best.


Risa Klein, certified nurse-midwife (CNM) of Manhattan Midwife

Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, lactation consultant based in New York

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