Safe Tips To Treat Headaches During Pregnancy
You don’t have to suffer through pregnancy headaches. Ward them off with these safe solutions.
If you’re like most people, you tackle a headache with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Then you charge on with your busy life. If you’re pregnant, though, the type of medication you can take is seriously restricted. It’s a cruel irony since some of the common hallmarks of pregnancysuch as fatigue, low blood sugar, and hormonal mood swingscan also trigger headaches.
In general, most headaches are considered tension headaches, and they’re usually described as a tight band of pain around the head and sometimes at the back of the neck. Emotional factorslike stressoften cause them, but there’s a wide range of physical causes too. Eyestrainfrom poor lighting or sitting too long at a computerfor example, can bring on a headache. Sinus headaches, where the pain sits behind the forehead, cheeks, or the bridge of your nose, are less common, but they happen if an infection or allergy causes an inflammation that blocks mucus from draining into the nose.
Finally, there are migraine headaches. If you’ve endured them, you know that the word headache” doesn’t quite describe the debilitating pain, which is often associated with nausea or sensitivity to light or noise. A wide range of things can trigger migraines, including weather changes, menstrual cycles, and certain foods.
What Can I Do About Headaches
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.
Viii Review Of Key Questions
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality posted the Key Questions on the AHRQ Effective Health Care Website for public comment. The Evidence-based Practice Center refined and finalized them after reviewing of the public comments and seeking input from Key Informants. This input is intended to ensure that the Key Questions are specific and relevant.
Also Check: Can You Donate Plasma While Breastfeeding
I Background And Objectives For The Systematic Review
Headache, one of the most common symptoms in the general population, is also common during pregnancy. Primary headache refers to conditions where the headache itself is the disorder. In contrast, secondary headaches are caused by an underlying disorder, such as stroke, venous thromboembolism,1,2 or pituitary tumors.3,4 Therapy for secondary headache in pregnancy generally targets the underlying disorder, and is thus not the focus of this review.
Primary headaches that occur in pregnant women are classified into four types: migraine, tension headache, cluster headache, and other trigeminal autonomic cephalgias .5 Migraine is by far the most frequent type, accounting for about 90 percent of primary headaches in pregnant women.2 The lifetime prevalence of migraine disorder among pregnant women is approximately 30 percent.6,7 Other types of primary headache during pregnancy are rarer.8 Primary headaches can be pre-existing or can occur for the first time during pregnancy, postpartum, or breastfeeding. The stress of pregnancy and imminent infant care may exacerbate the frequency and/or severity of primary headaches. Migraine remains the most common type of both pre-existing and pregnancy-onset primary headache.
Headaches In Early Pregnancy
Nearly all women have occasional headaches, but having a headache in pregnancy is not fun. And, managing headaches is especially tricky in the first trimester when you should avoid many medicines. Whether your headache is from tension or is a full-blown migraine, there are some things you should know.
You May Like: Pregnancy Side Effects By Week
When To See A Doctor
Although headaches during pregnancy are common, it may sometimes be necessary to see a doctor.
Anyone experiencing severe or continuous headaches that do not respond to home remedies should schedule an appointment with their doctor.
Similarly, anyone experiencing other troubling symptoms such as dizziness or changes in vision should seek diagnosis and treatment. A doctor may be able to recommend a treatment that is safe for both the woman and the fetus.
Are Migraines During Pregnancy Bad For The Baby
Migraines can be so severe, you might worry theyâre affecting your baby too. âThe good news,â Dr. Crystal says,â is that large studies have not shown increased rates of birth defects or stillbirths in migraineurs.â
That being said, women who have migraines so severe that they end up in the emergency room have a higher risk of complications such as pre-eclampsia, preterm delivery, and low birth weight, according to the National Headache Foundation.
Recommended Reading: Kt Tape Pregnancy Round Ligament Pain
Why Does My Head Hurt
Women often experience tension headaches during the first trimester. It’s most likely because of fluctuations in hormones, says Sheena Aurora, M.D., director of the Swedish Headache Center, in Seattle. By the second trimester, she says, the pain subsides because the hormones are steadily high.
Of course, there are many other possible reasons for your throbbing head. Ask yourself, ‘Are my headaches being stimulated by something in my diet?’ says Lillian Schapiro, M.D., an OB-GYN in Atlanta. ‘What medications am I taking? What time of day are they happening? Is there anything I can change?’
In the third trimester, when you’re carrying a lot of additional weight, consider whether poor posture might be a factor in your headaches. The strain on your neck and shoulders could lead to muscle spasms, which can irritate nerves in the back of your head. Or you might develop muscle tightening and spasms from sleeping with your head in an unnatural position.
About Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy
Headaches are quite common in pregnancy. The most common are tension headaches and migraine headaches. Most headaches come and go, but others may be more bothersome or may be caused by other complications. It is important for women to consult their doctor about any headaches they may have before, during, or after pregnancy.
Also Check: Kinesio Tape For Pregnancy Round Ligament Pain
What Can I Do To Prevent Migraines
One of the best ways to prevent migraines is to recognize what triggers an attack and trying to avoid them. For example, stress, eating certain foods or lack of sleep may bring on an attack.
Avoiding your triggers can be difficult when youre pregnant. For example, if you have morning sickness you may not feel like eating or drinking much. This can cause low blood sugar or dehydration, so its important to try and find ways to cope.
Getting enough sleep may also be difficult during pregnancy. Try our tips for a better nights sleep.
You should also try to
- rest and relax as much as possible. You could try things like mindfulness or yoga.
Headache During Pregnancy: What Causes Them And What You
Getting migraine attacks during pregnancy can be complicated, as your usual treatment options may be no-gos, one of the first things you should do to outrule a headache caused by dehydration is to drink a few glasses of water, Headaches can be caused by a pregnancy complication called preeclampsia.So your doctor may evaluate you for that condition before making a diagnosis of migraine.Estimated Reading Time: 7 minsMost pregnant women, we commonly use nerve blocks to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches
Read Also: Accidentally Donated Plasma While Pregnant
How Can I Get Rid Of My Headache While Pregnant
Why are my headaches so bad during pregnancy?
In the first trimester, changing hormone levels and blood volume may play a role. A dull, overall headache can come with stress, fatigue, and eyestrain. Sinus headaches may be more likely because of the nasal congestion and runny nose that are common in early pregnancy.
What are pregnancy headaches like?
They can feel like a squeezing pain or a steady dull ache on both sides of your head or at the back of your neck. If you’ve always been susceptible to tension headaches, pregnancy can make the problem worse. Migraine headaches cause moderate to severe throbbing pain, typically on one side of the head.
Can u take ibuprofen while pregnant?
Although ibuprofen can offer quick relief from aches and pains when you’re not pregnant, it isn’t the best choice to take during pregnancy. Pregnant women are advised to avoid ibuprofen during pregnancy, especially if they’re 30 or more weeks pregnant.
How Do Migraine Headaches Typically Change From First Trimester To Second Trimester To Third Trimester
âDue to the abrupt hormonal changes and increased blood volume,â says Dr. Crystal, âthe first trimester is often a time of increased headaches for women with migraine.â
Luckily, they can get better in the second trimester, âthough for some patients the turning point does not occur until around week 20.â
For some women, migraines can come back near the end of pregnancy, possibly because the discomforts of late pregnancy can impact your sleep.
Don’t Miss: Vagisil During Pregnancy
Symptoms Of Migraines During Pregnancy
A migraine usually starts out as a dull ache and then eventually becomes a throbbing, constant, and pulsating pain in the temples, in front of the head, or base of the head. Migraines are sometimes accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light, vomiting, dizziness, and auras, which are spots or lines that can occur across ones vision. The pain can sometimes make it difficult to focus, and symptoms can be debilitating.
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.
Also Check: Risks Of Donating Plasma While Pregnant
How Can I Treat A Headache In Pregnancy
If you have a mild headache, its safe to take paracetamol. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packet for how much you can take.
There are some painkillers you should not take while youre pregnant. These include tablets or capsules that:
- contain added caffeine
- contain codeine
- are anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen or aspirin.
Some women may be advised to take a low dose of aspirin as a treatment if they have had miscarriages before or they are at risk of pre-eclampsia. This will be prescribed by a doctor. Aspirin should not be taken as treatment for a headache.
Try to take the lowest dose of paracetamol that works and for the shortest amount of time. Your midwife, GP or pharmacist can give you more advice if the pain is ongoing and doesnt go away with paracetamol.
Find out more about drugs and medicines in pregnancy.
What Happens If You Take Ibuprofen While Pregnant
The U. In a recent study, the Food and Drug Administration found that babies who take ibuprofen during the third trimester are at risk. In some cases, research has shown that ibuprofen can cause a passage in the babys heart to close prematurely, possibly leading to heart or lung damage, or even death.
Recommended Reading: Vagisil Safe While Pregnant
When To See Your Doctor
Headaches in pregnant people are particularly concerning during the third trimester, when risk for preeclampsia rises.
If you experience vision changes or seeing spots, call your doctor immediately as this is a sign of preeclampsia.
To diagnose preeclampsia, doctors will check for elevated blood pressure and may conduct a follow-up urine analysis.
If preeclampsia is ruled out, and your headache persists and is not responding to treatment especially Tylenol it’s still important to talk with a doctor to identify the root cause.
After you’ve figured out the cause, your doctor might recommend medication, like a combination of Benadryl and Reglan to treat headaches. If your doctor says the medication is safe, take it, Columbo says.
“Don’t make yourself suffer needlessly,” he says.
What Migraine Medications Are Safe To Take During Pregnancy
The Food and Drug Administration sorts migraine treatments into various safety categories. The FDA classifies both prescription and non-prescription drugs into various categories based on each medications potential to cause birth defects.Please click here to read the FDAs safety guide when taking medications during pregnancy.
As with any treatment plan, its essential that you consult with a doctor before moving forward. If you are a migraine patient and are expecting a child, make an appointment with your physician to discuss the best course of action.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundations subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. to read about our editorial board members.
Read Also: Vagisil Safe For Pregnancy
When Should I Call The Doctor During Pregnancy
The following symptoms during pregnancy warrant an immediate call to your practitioner: Heavy bleeding or bleeding with cramps or severe pain in the lower abdomen. Severe lower abdominal pain either in the center or on one or both sides that doesnt subside, even if it isnt accompanied by bleeding.
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.
Recommended Reading: Vagisil Wipes During Pregnancy
How To Treat Patients For Migraine During Pregnancy
Its important for providers who treat women during their reproductive years to be aware of treatment options that are safe during pregnancy. Many women with migraine who are pregnant or considering pregnancy stop taking their migraine medications and assume they dont have safe treatment options availablebut this is simply not true.
Women typically start to experience migraine attacks during adolescence, which aligns with when menstruation begins. The highest incidence of migraine is between ages 18 and 44, which are also the year many women experience pregnancy. The rate of migraine among women is three times higher than it is for men. Because of these figures, it is believed that fluctuations in estrogen levels play a role in migraine development.
Dr. Tracy Grossman, an obstetrician-gynecologist who has completed a fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine and earned a masters in neuroscience, shares the range of treatment options available for pregnant patients with migraine.
Causes Of Migraine Headaches
Researchers believe that overly excited brain cells stimulate a release of chemicals. These chemicals irritate blood vessels on the brain‘s surface. That, in turn, causes blood vessels to swell and stimulate the pain response.
The neurotransmitter serotonin also appears to have a key role in migraines.
Don’t Miss: Nutraburst While Pregnant
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.