#Weaning and #Migraine – Treatment Update

My little man will be 19 months old on the 12th, and with his increasing independence comes a number of changes, both for him and for me.

I’ve been practicing baby-led feeding and baby-led weaning, which means we’ve had fewer struggles than we might otherwise have had along our journey but it also means the weaning process is taking significantly longer than it otherwise might. That being said, my son took the lead on night weaning about four months ago, and I am happy to report that we are now officially done with the 2 a.m. (and 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.) feedings. In fact, we’re down to just two nursing sessions a day: one before nap and one before bed. Neither lasts longer than 15 minutes, and I’m hoping to drop both soon. While this is really good news for me (I can’t wait to have my body to myself again), it is also not so good news.

Hormones change and fluctuate a lot during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They also change when we begin to wean, and again when we finally drop that final nursing session. For some women, this isn’t a super big deal. I’m not one of those women.

As I shared on this blog, my migraines were terrible during the first half or more of my pregnancy. They eased up a little during the third trimester and were largely absent during those first few postpartum months. Then, they kicked in again, and as we’ve progressed through the postpartum period and into the toddler years, they’ve gotten worse. This is due in part to the hot and ever-changing Texas weather and in part to weaning.

Weaning related migraines are nothing new. If you search the internet, you’ll find a large number of women discussing how much worse their migraines got when they stopped breastfeeding. Somehow, though, it was something I wasn’t entirely prepared to experience.

Unfortunately my expectations had little to no effect on reality.

The last eight weeks have brought a migraine more days than not. While I have a lot of non-prescription tools for coping with migraine and a supportive family, it’s become necessary to go back on medication. Thankfully, Kellymom.com, a wonderful resource for nursing mothers and their doctors (my neurologist even references this site), offers a pretty in-depth look at almost all of the common migraine and pain medications. Taking both the website’s information into account and the age of my son (babies older than 3 months usually aren’t as affected by medication in mothers’ milk as much as younger babies), my neurologist and I have crafted a new plan. For those who wonder:

  • I’ve started amitriptyline as a preventative. As of now, I’m only on 10 mg once a day, but I’m working myself up to 30 mg. We’ll reevaluate my progress when I go back for a follow-up at the end of the month. I’m still taking 400mg of Magnesium as a preventative as well.
  • I have prescriptions for a tablet version of Prodin for use as an abortive. I also have a few samples of a Zomig nasal spray, though I haven’t used it yet. (Triptans generally don’t work for me, and I figured I would wait to try this until I’m completely done weaning, just because it makes me more comfortable. Despite the fact that I’d heard somewhere that triptans were no-nos when breastfeeding, Kellymom.com actually says Zomig is “moderately safe.”)
  • I also have Fioricet and Promethazine tablets and a nasal spray version of Toradol for use as rescues.

I haven’t used most of these medications yet, as I try to avoid medications as much as possible. I have taken two of the Fioricet tablets, but so far I’ve experienced little relief. I’m hoping the amitriptyline will bring help. If it doesn’t, I believe we’re going to try a calcium channel blocker, which is one of the only preventatives I haven’t tried yet. If that doesn’t work, we’ll wait until my son has decided to completely give up nursing and then try a few other things. I trust that eventually either time or a medication will help.

March #Migraine Blog Round Up

March was a slightly busier month than February (at least here at The Migraine Chronicles), but I have to admit – more happened than I had the chance to write about. Hopefully, April will see that begin to change. In the meantime, here are some great posts you may have missed:

My Posts

Other Favorites

That’s it for this month. Happy reading!

Did I miss something you found particularly helpful? Share it here.

Watching for Signs of Migraine in Our Kids

My 11-year-old daughter frequently complains of stomachache. She hasn’t eaten too much. She doesn’t have a stomach bug. Yet, she complains, again and again, that her tummy hurts.

Suffering from chronic migraines as I do, I know too well how frequently pain can arrive and torment us – even when there’s not a “typical” reason. Yet, as her mother, I am unsure how to react.

My daughter, you see, is notorious for trying to get out of work.

Whether it’s a chore she doesn’t feel like doing or a page of homework that appears at first glance too overwhelming, she’s quick to cry defeat and (quite literally) hide under the table or in her closet. (Yes, I know this isn’t age appropriate or “normal.” No, there isn’t anything to do but wait for her to get her embarrassment and frustration under control.) In short, her intense emotions get to her and she gives up easily – much, much too easily. Though our year of homeschooling has gone a long way toward increasing her confidence and decreasing the instances of such behavior, it still occurs.

So, as a fellow pain sufferer, I want to hold her hand, comfort her, and give her whatever she needs to feel better. As her mother, however, I’m conflicted. I do not want to deny her her reality, but I do not want to let her use it as an excuse. And yet, I know how many of us with invisible illness – myself included – work tirelessly against stigma and the idea that we are “faking” our symptoms so we have an excuse to be lazy. I do not want to make my daughter feel like that.

Often, I tell her that I understand her tummy hurts and that I’m sorry. Then, I say that as soon as she gets finished with whatever it is she needs to do, I will make her soup and get her tucked into bed. Sometimes she takes me up on this. About half the time she decides she is well enough to go out and play after all.

What would you do? I’m sure her stomach does hurt – either from stress and anxiety or abdominal migraine (which can’t be ruled out) – but I don’t know how to respond.

Returning Fertility, Returning #Migraines

My son is almost 10 months old, and though I am still nursing him about every two hours, my monthly cycles have finally returned. For many women, this would simply mean returning fertility. For me, it means both this and the return of a particular kind of migraine: menstrual migraine.

The vast majority of my migraine attacks are not triggered by my menstrual cycle nor are they affected by hormones (other than cortisol). Some of my attacks are, however, and this was especially true this past week. For almost six straight days, a low-grade migraine kept me and my cramps company from the time I woke up until the time I finally nodded off to sleep.

Thankfully, my menstrual migraines are never as intense as my regular migraines, but their long stay can make them difficult to take. And, because I am still nursing, my methods for dealing with such a long migraine attack are limited. This time, I settled in with a heating pad on my abdomen, an ice pack on my head, and a bottle of ibuprofen to my left. It wasn’t the best treatment I could have tried, but it was the only one I had at my disposal.

I’m hoping my body and brain were simply unfamiliar with the flood of hormones associated with my cycle, and that they forgot how to handle them. I’m hoping that next month will be a little easier to take, with less cramping and fewer days of migraine pain. I’m hoping that eventually my brain will remember how to handle the ebb and flow of my feminine hormones and let me off the hook entirely. We’ll see.

 

Finding Happiness with Migraines

Living with migraine disease isn’t only about dealing with pain, nausea, fatigue, and other physical symptoms. It’s also about handling the accompanying emotional and mental challenges.

In my new e-book, Finding Happiness with Migraines: A Do-It-Yourself Guide, I offer tips on how to create a daily life filled with joy, appreciation, and confidence – even in the midst of a migraine. Readers will learn:

  • Which yoga poses can help with a migraine attack;
  • Why you should throw away your daily migraine journal;
  • How do-it-yourself therapy can create positive change;
  • Techniques to connect with your body and intuition; and
  • How to fight the fear, isolation, and anger that so often accompany the disease.

I’m excited to finally have the opportunity to share the wisdom and insights I’ve gleaned from six years of chronic, often “intractable” migraine. I hope you find it worthwhile! The book is available on both Kindle and Nook, or as a PDF. Find out more here: http://www.absolutelovepublishing.com/Happiness_with_Migraines.html.

 

Overcoming Setbacks: Migraine Awareness Month #4

Living with migraines can be disheartening. Too often, the disease ruins our plans and makes us feel like we can’t accomplish our goals. On those days, it can be difficult to pick ourselves up out of the puddle of doubt we’ve landed in and forge ahead. But, it can be done.

If my experiences living with migraine disease have taught me anything, it’s this: I am stronger than I thought I was. And, so are you.

Living through the pain, nausea, vertigo, fatigue, uncertainty, and light and noise sensitivity of migraine isn’t easy. It takes bravery to make it through each day and an often unappreciated optimism to continue setting goals for ourselves even when we don’t always achieve them. These are characteristics we all share, and yet few of us routinely see ourselves as courageous, adventurous, and full of hope. But, we are. And, acknowledging that we are is one way we can overcome the setbacks migraine throws at us.

When I’m feeling particularly down or discouraged about my ability to make my life into what I want it to be, I remind myself of this: I’m still here; I’m still fighting. Migraine, despite everything, hasn’t beaten me. And, that is something to get excited about.

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June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.

 

Migraine Superheros: Migraine Awareness Month #2

As is so often the case these days, I’m running a day behind.

I had planned to post a blog every day this month in honor of Migraine Awareness Month and the Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge. Unfortunately, June 1st turned into June 2nd without my having even logged onto the Internet, let alone posted a migraine blog. This time, however, I have a very good reason for missing my deadline: I was finishing my e-book Finding Happiness with Migraines, A Do It Yourself Guide, which will be released sometime next week!

I’ll be posting additional details about the book in the upcoming days. For now, I turn to the MHAM blog challenge of the day:

If I were to chose just one person to be my Migraine Superhero, it would have to be my husband. Though he doesn’t truly understand what a migraine feels like, he always understands when I need to take a break because of a bad one. On those occasions, he helps me get into bed, turns out the lights, instructs our ten-year-old to “let Mama rest,” and takes care of the baby. He cooks dinner, reads to the kids, and brings me whatever I need to get comfortable.

In our busy, busy household, where neither I nor my husband ever has a second of downtime, his actions are nothing short of miraculous.

He also never resents me for my illness nor shames me for feeling badly. He doesn’t try to make me feel guilty, and he always lets me know how much he loves me and appreciates me. I wish every migraineur a “superhero” as warm, loving, and kind as mine.

 

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.