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 piece of machinery that you have the most intense love/hate relationship: the breast pump. Breast pumps are both a complete lifesaver and a total pain, and pumping takes a lot of mental and physical work and strain — it could even take a major toll on your body. If you're feeling woozy while attached to the pump, you may be wondering, can pumping make you dizzy? As it turns out, it can.
According to Risa Klein, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), of Manhattan Midwife, it's common for mothers to feel nauseous or dizzy while pumping or breastfeeding. "Pumping breast milk takes work, extra calories, and energy," Klein says to Romper, "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 make sure they are eating as though they are pregnant, which is about 500 extra daily calories, to keep their milk supply abundant and their strength up. "I also ask them," Klein says, "to eat a nutritious high-protein snack or meal, and drink water or another healthy beverage while sitting and pumping." (No, I won't tell anyone if your high-protein snack is actually 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 International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Leigh Anne O'Connor. "Making milk makes many moms very thirsty," she says to Romper, "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.
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," Klein explains, "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 breast-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 and your little babe safe.