It might seem like the end of pregnancy would also mean closure on the particular life chapter of roller coaster hormones, right? But for any woman who has experienced the postpartum period, she will tell you that most certainly isn't the case. After all, your body is recalibrating and prepping for breastfeeding, whether you choose to pursue it or not. And it turns out that the weaning period can be just as dizzying — literally.
All of those hormonal changes don’t stop with breastfeeding or weaning. Whether you’re weaning your baby because you’re done breastfeeding, because you need to for your own health and wellbeing, or because your baby says they’ve had enough, there’s a lot that goes into it. And of course, that means there’s a lot that happens to your body. Feeling dizzy and tired after weaning can happen for a variety of reasons.
"I think this happens more frequently when a mom weans fairly quickly as opposed to a gradual weaning," Leigh Anne O’Connor, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and parenting coach, tells Romper in an email interview. "When the weaning is swift, there can be a dramatic hormonal shift that can contribute to these symptoms. There is also less oxytocin when one is not lactating, so that can contribute to fatigue."
There are also other factors to consider when it comes to dizziness and fatigue — some of it may be because of the actual act of weaning and how that’s changing. If your baby is suddenly waking up more often as you started weaning, you might feel more exhausted. Or if you’re used to chugging a bunch of water to keep your breast milk supply up and your hydration goes down, it could lead to feeling a little dizzy. La Leche League also suggests going slow, like O’Connor does. “If you wean ‘cold turkey,’ your breasts will likely become painfully engorged, and you might develop a breast infection,” the website notes.
Oh hey, and you know what’s a symptom of a breast infection? Feeling tired and blah. Mayo Clinic says you will feel run down and generally ill — along with a fever and red, streaky breasts — and WebMD recommends heading to the doctor if your breast infection leaves you feeling faint or dizzy.
Don't be surprised if weaning also leads to feelings of sadness, depression, and/or anxiety. After all, not only are your hormones all over the place, but weaning signifies the end of an era which, for many moms, can bring with it a lot of emotion. According to Kelly Mom, a quick weaning process can lead to a more abrupt shift in hormone levels, which may in turn cause harsher symptoms. "Dropping no more than one feeding per week is gentler on both mother and baby," the website suggests. But if "feelings of sadness or depression linger," then it's important to seek professional help, Dr. Batya Grundland, a family physician at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, told Today's Parent.
Other symptoms that might accompany weaning include PMS (yay, your period is back), attachment issues, increased sex drive, anger, heart palpitations, irregular periods, and migraines. "Our bodies go from producing tons of milk to drying up, and the effects are much more than just physical," noted BabyGaga. "The hormone changes will affect everything, from our breasts to our brains."
Which really brings additional meaning to the idea of "mommy brain," am I right? If you’re feeling super ill as you wean or the fatigue and dizziness is affecting your way of life, it’s worth reaching out to your doctor. And if you want to avoid any huge side effects, ask a lactation consultant for help on weaning.
Leigh Anne O’Connor, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and parenting coach
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