Can You Get Migraines While Pregnant

How To Prevent Migraines During Pregnancy

Is it normal to get migraine headaches during pregnancy, and what should I do about them?

The following measures could help you stay away from migraine headaches in pregnancy .

  • Identify and avoid triggers that can lead to migraines and headaches.
  • Follow a healthy routine of daily activities, including a gentle walk or breathing exercise, and stick to them. That way, the body and the mind get accustomed to the timings.
  • Stay away from stress and anxiety by avoiding stressful activities and anxiety triggers.
  • Have a nutritious and healthy diet, do not skip meals, and follow a routine.
  • Get a good nightâs sleep to help avoid stress and headache.

I Am Pregnantbut What Is Going To Happen To My Migraine

Results from studies suggest that up to 80% of women who have migraine without aura experience improvement in migraine during pregnancy, particularly during the second and third trimesters.1-4 Since migraine without aura is often associated with falling levels of oestrogen, the reason for improvement in pregnancy is often considered to be the more stable levels of oestrogen. However, there are many physical, biochemical, and emotional changes in pregnancy that could also account for improvement, including increased production of natural painkillers known as endorphins, muscle relaxation, and changes in sugar balance. In contrast to migraine without aura, attacks of migraine with aura follow a different pattern during pregnancy as attacks are more likely to continue and aura may develop for the first time.5-7

What Are The Symptoms Of Pregnancy Migraines

Based on the associated symptoms, migraines are classified into two types .

  • Migraine with aura: People can experience sensory disturbances for up to an hour before the onset of a migraine, commonly known as aura experience. Such disturbances include tingling sensation, seeing sparks, bright spots, and difficulty speaking.
  • Migraine without aura: People do not see an aura however, they experience other migraine symptoms. Some of the signs and symptoms of migraine headaches during pregnancy are :
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Severe throbbing pain in one side of the head
    • Sensitivity to light, loud noise, or strong smell

    It becomes essential to monitor the signs and symptoms of migraines during pregnancy. This information will be vital for a medical practitioner to understand the cause and give an effective management plan. One can note down the following details or mention them in their headache diaries.

    • Time of onset of symptoms
    • Were you at the home, workplace, or traveling when you experienced a migraine
    • In which activity you were involved when the symptoms began
    • What all eatables and drinks you have consumed throughout the day
    • Time of reoccurrence of symptoms

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    Pregnancy And Migraine Medications

    Pregnancy is a step into the unknown. It can be the most wonderful time in a persons life, but it can also be intimidating. For women living with migraine disease, contemplating pregnancy can be downright frightening.

    I always assumed I would not have children. Motherhood and pregnancy seemed like an unthinkable undertaking to someone experiencing daily migraine since the age of four. But very suddenly, after 26 years of perfecting various migraine strategies and medications, I won my personal migraine battle. This was so life-changing for me that after a month without daily migraines I noticed flowers were beautiful for the first time. Four years later, I got up the courage to become pregnant. In truth, I was practically paralyzed with fear.

    Last month, in an article on breastfeeding and migraine medications, I pointed out that our culture puts a lot of pressure on breastfeeding mothers to avoid medications. The stigma and cultural pressures are even more prevalent for expectant mothers. Studies have demonstrated that not just pregnant women, but also their healthcare providers tend to overestimate the risks associated with using medications during pregnancy.



    When contemplating the use of a medication during pregnancy it is important to understand the code the FDA uses to rate the safety of medication during pregnancy. The FDA pregnancy categories 5 are as follows:


    Final Thoughts On Daily Headaches While Pregnant

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    One of the things I cant stress enough is drinking enough water each day, this is something that will help you in different areas of pregnancy. When you get enough water you will help avoid swelling, headaches, fatigue, overeating, dizziness and even heartburn.

    I know it works because I am pregnant and drink at least ten cups of water a day using the water bottle that I love, and it has been helping me feel my best so far. Its a lot easier to drink water this way then out of regular glass and you dont feel like you have to chug it.

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    Drugs To Prevent Migraine

    If daily medication is considered necessary to prevent migraine during pregnancy, the lowest effective dose of propranolol is the drug of choice.9 Low dose amitriptyline is a safe alternative.9 There are no reports of adverse outcomes from pizotifen used during pregnancy or lactation, although it is less often used than the drugs above.

    In contrast, sodium valproate, should not be taken during pregnancy for migraine as there is a high risk of fetal abnormalities. Indeed, women prescribed sodium valproate for migraine must use effective contraception.

    Topiramate should not be used for migraine during pregnancy and breastfeeding as there are insufficient data regarding safety.

    When To Call The Doctor

    Most of the time, a headache is just a headache, and it will go away once you eat something or get a little rest.

    A bad headache that does not go away in a few hours, gets worse, or keeps coming back could be a sign of a pregnancy complication, so you should call your doctor.

    You should also notify the doctor:

    • Before taking any medication or herbal supplement to treat your headache to be sure that its safe
    • If your natural treatments are not working
    • If you have a fever, pressure around your eyes, or a stuffy nose
    • If you get a headache and you have a history of high blood pressure
    • If you get a headache after you hit 20 weeks pregnant
    • If you have pain along with other symptoms such as nausea, blurry vision, abdominal pain, or swelling in the body
    • If you have head pain after falling and hitting your head

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    Why Do I Get Migraines During Pregnancy

    So what is it about having a bun in the oven that makesyour head hurt ? Blame it on thehormones. The very things that help your body keep your unborn baby healthy andnourished also up your headache quota. So does an increase in blood volume,which happens during the first trimester.

    Other factors that lead toheadaches during pregnancy include:

    • Eating certain foods .
    • Not drinking enough water.
    • Brain tumors.
    • Stroke risk.

    We look at everyone closely and assess theirsymptoms, notes Dr. Shadbehr. The first question we want to answer is, Isthis a primary headache or a warning sign of an underlying condition?

    What Can I Do About Headaches

    Is it normal to get headaches during pregnancy, and what should I do about them?

    Steps to manage headaches include the following:

    • Avoid any known headache triggers, including allergens and certain foods, like monosodium glutamate, cured meats, and strong cheeses.

    • Smoking is never a good idea in pregnancy. You should also avoid secondhand smoke.

    • Try to eat well and drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are prone to morning sickness.

    • Reduce your stress level. Try a massage or cold pack to help with tension headaches.

    • If your headache is a migraine, rest in a cool, dark room with no noise, and try using warm or cold compresses or an ice pack.

    There is good news, however. Most women have fewer headaches during pregnancy, especially after the first trimester. And those with a history of migraines often find there is improvement during pregnancy.

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    When To Worry About Migraines During Pregnancy


    Experiencing a migraine during pregnancy is sometimes problematic. If a pregnant woman understands the warning signs and symptoms of a migraine attack, she can treat her migraine pain properly. Now, lets examine some of the key questions surrounding migraines during pregnancy, and how pregnant women can treat their migraine symptoms.

    What Foods Trigger Migraines

    There are many common foods that can trigger headaches, and these will vary from woman to woman. Most headaches in pregnancy will settle in the second trimester when the morning sickness has gone.

    Some foods that might trigger your migraines are:

    • Bread and cakes
    • Fruits, such as citrus, bananas, raspberries, passion fruit, and plums
    • Nuts and avocados

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    I Am Pregnant What Can I Take To Treat My Migraine

    Drugs tend to exert their greatest effects on the developing baby during the first month of pregnancy, often before the woman knows she is pregnant. Hence take as few drugs as possible, in the lowest effective dose. Although many of the drugs taken by unsuspecting women rarely cause harm, there is a difference between reassuring the pregnant woman that what she has taken is unlikely to have affected the pregnancy and advising her what she should take for future attacks. Most evidence of safety is circumstantial few drugs have been tested during pregnancy and breastfeeding because of the obvious ethical limitations of such trials. Hence drugs are only recommended if the potential benefits to the woman and baby outweigh the potential risks.

    Migraine Medications That Are Safe During Pregnancy

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    Thanks to stable levels of migraine-preventive estrogen that occur during pregnancy, women who frequently experience these debilitating headaches often get a reprieve from them when they’re expecting. For those in the minority who still get migraines, the question of how to treat them is an important one. While there are several effective medications for the treatment of migraines, not all are considered safe for a developing baby.

    Migraine painif experienced during pregnancyis often severe enough to require medication. Sometimes other migraine symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, also must be treated with drugs as well.

    Fortunately, there are a number of effective migraine medications that the Food and Drug Administration considers safe to take during pregnancy. Before reaching for your regular prescription, make sure that it is included in this list . If it’s not, discuss these safer options with your healthcare provider.

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    Coffee Helps Prevent My Migraines Can I Have Caffeine While Pregnant

    Caffeine and migraine have an interesting relationship. According to the National Headache Foundation, caffeine can help with pain relief, since âit contains properties It can even make some pain relievers work better. Yet for some people, caffeine a migraine trigger. And becoming reliant on caffeine every day can lead to rebound headaches.

    All that said, even if you know caffeine helps fight your migraines, what can you do? Isnât caffeine off limits during pregnancy?

    If youâve been resisting the urge to reach for a cup of coffee, take comfort. Dr. Crystal points out that some caffeine is okay during pregnancy . âDrinking up to 12 oz. of coffee per day, or about 200mg of caffeine, is considered safe,â she says. Still, itâs always smart to double check with your doctor before pouring yourself a cup.

    When To Call The Doctor About Headaches During Pregnancy

    Many women, even those who haven’t previously experienced a lot of everyday headaches, will get them during pregnancy. The vast majority of pregnancy headaches are primary meaning your head hurts, but theres nothing serious or anything to worry about.

    But if your headaches persist for more than two or three hours or you have other symptoms , let your practitioner know right away.

    In rare cases, so-called secondary headaches signal something else going on in your body, such as hypertension or risk factors for preeclampsia, and youll want to make sure you get both the headaches and the underlying conditions taken care of ASAP.

    From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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    What Are The Causes And Risk Factors Of Pregnancy Migraines

    Scientific findings state that naturally occurring inflammatory substances in the brain could cause severe migraines. The inflammation often hampers the blood vessels and nerves in the brain, causing exacerbating pain .

    Some of the common triggers and risk factors of chronic migraines are as follows

    • Irritation in the eye

    Coping With Headaches In Pregnancy

    Migraines, Anxiety, and Depression While Pregnant

    Paracetamol is the first choice of painkiller if you’re pregnant.

    However, for safety, if you take paracetamol in pregnancy, take it for the shortest possible time.

    You can get advice from your pharmacist, midwife or GP about how much paracetamol you can take and for how long.

    There are some painkillers you should avoid in pregnancy such as those containing codeine, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen unless prescribed by your doctor.

    You can also make changes to your lifestyle to try and help prevent and treat headaches. Try to:

    • drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration

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    What Are Possible Complications Of Migraines

    If you have a history of migraine headaches, and have no other health problems, migraines during pregnancy are not usually a concern.

    But if a first-time migraine-like headache occurs in pregnancy, it is important to check for any other type of condition that may be dangerous. This includes bleeding in the brain, meningitis, high blood pressure, or tumors. You may need further testing to find the cause of the headache. This testing may include urine and blood tests.

    When To See A Doctor

    Check in with your doctor the first time you suspect you’re having a migraine. Ditto if an unexplained headache persists for more than a few hours, returns very often or is accompanied by a fever.

    From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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    What Is The Best Treatment For Migraine Pain

    The best treatment for migraine pain depends on the patient. For pregnant women coping with migraines, meeting with a physician provides a great starting point for treatment. Of course, for patients who are dealing with chronic migraines but find that their medications are ineffective or cause unwanted side effects, additional treatment options may be considered.

    Dr. Jonathan Cabin of The Migraine Institute offers comprehensive treatments to chronic migraine patients. He is a board-certified head and neck surgeon with dual subspecialty training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, and he uses his unique expertise to provide a custom treatment for each chronic migraine patient. In doing so, Dr. Cabin helps chronic migraine patients identify the root cause of migraine pain and treat their migraine symptoms appropriately.

    Dr. Cabin is available to discuss migraine treatment options for individuals who previously received a chronic migraine diagnosis and are not satisfied with their migraine medications. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Cabin, please contact us online or call us today at 310.461.0303.

    What Are Migraine Headaches

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    Migraines are a type of headache that affects nerves and blood vessels . The 2 most common types of migraines are migraine with aura and migraine without aura.

    • Migraine with aura. This type of migraine includes an aura. You may see flashing lights or zigzag lines or lose your eyesight for a short time. This usually happens 10 to 30 minutes before the migraine starts. The aura may also happen during the migraine.

    • Migraine without aura. This type of migraine generally does not have an aura. You may have other symptoms before it starts.

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    Talk With Your Doctor About Medication

    Medications taken when symptoms occur, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, are generally safe with limited use in pregnancy.

    Stronger drugs, such as Midrin or Prodrin, contain acetaminophen and a mild sedative. These drugs narrow the blood vessels, reducing blood flow and pain. Triptans, such as sumatriptan , also reduce blood flow and contains serotonin, which helps calm overactive nerves that cause migraines.

    Patients who get severe migraines may also take preventive drugs to avoid them altogether. Pregnancy-safe options include magnesium oxide, metoprolol, amitriptyline, propranolol .

    Ergotamines are not recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. These stronger drugs can interfere with fetal growth and increase the risk of preterm birth.

    How Do I Get Rid Of A Migraine While Pregnant

    The good news? Most women see an improvement in the number of migraines they experience as their pregnancy goes on, reports Dr. Shadbehr. But to better cope when the headaches just wont quit, she recommends these seven tips:

    • Keep a headache diary: By tracking your headaches and symptoms, its easier to notice any changes that your doctor should know about.
    • Know your migraine triggers: A headache diary can also help you recognize and avoid potential triggers. That way, if its cheese that sets you off, you wont put a slice in your afternoon sandwich. Other common triggers include processed meats, chocolate, MSG and ripe bananas.
    • Hydrate: Dr. Shadbehr recommends drinking about 8 to 10 glasses of water each day, but each persons water requirements differ.
    • Get enough sleep: Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night is ideal.
    • Try safe home remedies: Lying in a dark room or putting a cold rag over your head can provide some relief. But discuss any natural remedies with a physician before using them, cautions Dr. Shadbehr. The different substances in natural remedies could negatively affect you or your unborn child.
    • Explore cognitive behavioral therapy or biofeedback: Both can teach you ways to cope with headache pain by changing the way you think.
    • Try physical therapy: Poor posture, especially late in pregnancy, can lead to headaches. Strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles through PT can help combat this.

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