What Causes Headaches During Pregnancy

How Do I Treat Headaches During Pregnancy

3 things you should know about headaches during pregnancy

During pregnancy, you want to try and relieve your headache by natural means if possible, however your health care provider may recommend acetaminophen.

You may want to try to relieve your headache with one or more of the following natural remedies:

  • If you have a sinus headache, apply a warm compress around your eyes and nose
  • If you have a tension headache, apply a cold compress or ice pack at the base of your neck
  • Maintain your blood sugar by eating smaller, more frequent meals this may also help prevent future headaches
  • Get a massage massaging your shoulders and neck is an effective way to relieve pain
  • Rest in a dark room and practice deep breathing
  • Take a warm shower or bath
  • Practice good posture
  • Get plenty of rest and relaxation

How Are Migraine Headaches Managed In Pregnancy

Treatment of migraines in pregnancy may include things that soothe the pain. This includes cold packs, a darkened room, and sleep. Staying away from triggers such as certain foods and stress may also be helpful. Any medicines to treat pain, nausea, and vomiting must be carefully chosen. Here are some things to know about migraine treatment in pregnancy:

  • Many medicines pass through the placenta to your developing baby. You shouldn’t take these medicines in the first trimester.

  • Other medicines can be harmful in later pregnancy.

  • Generally, small amounts of acetaminophen and caffeine are safe in pregnancy.

  • Don’t take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

  • Migraine headache medicine such as sumatriptan and opioid pain medicines such as morphine should be used only as directed by your healthcare provider. Opioid pain relievers can be addictive for both you and your baby.

Talk with your pregnancy care provider about which migraine medicine can be used safely during pregnancy.

Home Remedies For Headaches During Pregnancy

There are many home remedies for headaches during pregnancy, but some of the most common include drinking lots of fluids, using over-the-counter pain medication, and taking ibuprofen. Many pregnant women find relief from headaches by trying different home remedies until they find one that works best for them.Some women also find relief from headaches by visiting a doctor. A doctor can prescribe medications to help control the headaches, or they may refer the woman to a neurologist who can evaluate the womans symptoms and provide more specific advice on how to treat them.

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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.

How Do I Get Rid Of A Migraine While Pregnant

Headache during pregnancy in 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters: causes and ...

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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Coping With Headaches In Pregnancy

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

Tips For Relieving Mild Headaches

  • Get plenty of rest. Sleep is especially hard later in your pregnancy but is so important to physical and mental health. Find yourself a comfy prenatal pillow and snuggle away.
  • Drink plenty of water. Pregnant moms require more water than the average person. While you may want to avoid extra trips to the bathroom, adequate fluid intake is important for you and baby.
  • Eat regular, well-balanced meals. To prevent low blood sugar, eat small meals throughout the day. Avoid sugar, like soda and candy.
  • Get a prenatal massage. A full-body massage can release tension in the muscles of your neck, shoulders and back.
  • Use warm compresses on head, neck and shoulders.
  • Avoid triggers. Keep a journal to help identify specific triggers so you can learn what to avoid. Some common headache triggers include strong odors and nitrites or nitrates.
  • Try exercise and relaxation techniques. Theres evidence that regular exercise can reduce stress and boost overall mood. Check with your doctor first before starting any new fitness routines.
  • Take acetaminophen to relieve symptoms .
  • Take caffeine in doses less than 200mg in a day .

If you have a history of migraines, however, your doctor may treat them differently during pregnancy. Discuss with your doctor what medications are safe to take during pregnancy.

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How Do I Know If My Headache Is Preeclampsia

Headaches From Preeclampsia/Eclampsia Unlike migraines though, a preeclampsia-related headache may be associated with other worrisome features like blurry or double vision and abdominal pain. Moreover, while migraines tend to occur on one side of the head, a headache from preeclampsia is located all over.

Headache And High Blood Pressure

Headaches in Pregnancy | Corey Lyon, DO, Family Medicine | UCHealth

If you know you have been experiencing higher-than-normal blood pressure, you should take major headaches seriously. A headache associated with high blood pressure is a strong indicator of preeclampsia. This can put both you and your unborn baby at risk .

Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can be carefully controlled by your physician. Some tests can be conducted to confirm whether or not you have this complication.

Other symptoms of preeclampsia include blurred vision, blind spots, or dizziness. Any combination of these with headaches can be concerning.

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What Causes Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy

Migraine headaches seem to have a genetic component, which means they tend to run in families. That said, theres usually a triggering event that unleashes them. One of the most common triggers at least for women is fluctuating hormone levels, particularly the rise and fall of estrogen.

Moms-to-be who get migraine attacks tend to experience them most often in the first trimester of pregnancy, when hormone levels, including estrogen, havent yet stabilized.

An increase in blood volume, which is also common in the first trimester, can be an additional factor. As blood vessels in the brain expand to accommodate extra blood flow, they can press against sensitive nerve endings, causing pain.

Other common migraine triggers, whether youre pregnant or not, include:

Is It A Headache Or Something Else

It isnt always easy to tell what kind of headache youre having, but the most common types of headaches during pregnancy are tension-type headaches, migraines and cluster headaches.

Tension headaches are the most common kind of headache in pregnant women. It can feel like someone is trying to squish your head like a watermelon. If you carry your stress in your shoulders and neck, you may be more susceptible to this kind of headache.

Migraines are a particular type of headache that occur on one side of the head. For some women, migraines can get worse the first few months and then improve in later stages of pregnancy. For others, they may experience no change, decrease or difference in their migraines.

Cluster headaches are less common but can occur during pregnancy. Youll suddenly have severe pain around your eyes or temples usually about the same time every day.

The good news is that there are plenty of pregnancy-safe things you can do to prevent and relieve the most common pregnancy headaches.

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What Do I Do If I Have A Migraine In Pregnancy

If youve never had a migraine call your midwife, doctor or hospital maternity unit. Serious conditions like pre-eclampsia can be like a migraine, so although its unlikely anything is wrong, your healthcare team may want to see you.

If you have always had migraines, you may find that they get better during your pregnancy. But pregnancy can also change the nature of migraines, so if you have a migraine that feels different to what youve had before, call your midwife, doctor or hospital maternity unit.

Remedies For Migraines During Pregnancy

Morning Sickness Headaches Early Pregnancy

Migraines are intense headaches that can occur as a symptom of pregnancy. These are different from stress or tension headaches. It is also normal to experience your first migraine during pregnancy. Some studies have found a slight correlation between migraines and hormones. This makes questions about how to treat migraines naturally while expecting common.

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How Does Pregnancy Affect Migraine Headaches

About 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women have migraines. Over half of women find that their migraines occur less often in the last few months of pregnancy. However, migraines may worsen after delivery, during the postpartum period. Although migraine headaches may cause severe pain for the mother, there are no dangers for the developing fetus.

Pregnancy Headaches: Causes And Remedies

Migraines and headaches during pregnancy are very common. Many women experience headaches before they are pregnant and sometimes see an increase once pregnancy occurs, while other women see a decrease in the frequency of headaches after the baby is conceived. One to two percent of migraine sufferers get their first pregnancy headaches or migraines during the first trimester, but as the second and third trimester come and go, their symptoms usually decrease. Its important to know what causes or triggers pregnancy headaches, and what you can do to relieve or prevent them.

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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

When To Call The Doctor About Headaches During Pregnancy

Headaches During Pregnancy: When to Worry | Parents

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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When Will Your Headaches End

Your headaches are caused by other factors, typically pregnancy-related symptoms.

You dont have control over your hormones, but you can try to decrease stress and fatigue. If you can maintain these, you can help rid yourself of headaches.

The good news is that the hormone estrogen is probably the culprit for headaches. Once you reach your second trimester, your headaches should improve as your body adjusts to the higher estrogen levels .

Once you deliver that bundle of joy, your hormone levels will begin to go back to normal, and you should see a significant decrease in your headaches.

When Should I Call A Doctor About Pregnancy Headaches

You should talk to your doctor regularly about any changes you experience that concern you or you are wondering how to treat. Some doctors may say taking Tylenol for a headache is okay and others may advise you against it.

They may recommend rest, ice packs, heating pads, stretches, massage, exercise, or other home remedies depending on what they suspect is the cause. You may also want to avoid migraine trigger foods like chocolate and dairy.

Your doctor can test your blood pressure, blood sugar, vision, and other factors to see what is causing your headaches. They might also want to make sure your headache isnt being caused by high blood pressure or something else that needs treatment for the safety of you and your baby. Headaches in the second and third trimesters can be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious condition.

Headaches are common in women both in and outside of pregnancy, according to Dr. Kelley Saunders, but whether they are normal or not should always be discussed with your doctor.

One important reason to tell your doctor about your headaches is that if the cause is high blood pressure, this can raise the risk of stroke, preterm delivery, placental abruption, and other issues. Headaches can also accompany other issues your doctor needs to know about like diabetes, sinus infection, or blood clots.

Give your doctor a call if:

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Is A Headache During Pregnancy Something To Worry About

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing to be celebrated, but few people fill you in on the not-so-great symptoms that may occur during the journey. Namely, heartburn, gas, constipation and, for some pregnant mamas, headaches.

While headaches can be just another normal symptom of pregnancy, should they ever be a cause for concern?

Headaches are common in women both in and outside of pregnancy, said Kelley Saunders, MD, an OBGYN with Banner University Medicine Womens Institute. But whether they are normal or not should always be discussed with your doctor.”

Here is some insight into what causes headaches during pregnancy, some remedies to treat them and why your doctor should be kept in the loop.

Types Of Pregnancy Headaches

headache early pregnancy sign

There are many different types of headaches you can get when youre pregnant. These include tension headaches and dehydration headaches. Migraines and sinus headaches are also common. The first step is to understand what causes the headaches. Then, you can create an action plan to reduce aches and pains and avoid headaches in the first place.

Heres a quick rundown of the different types of headaches you may experience when pregnant:

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Never Be Afraid To Consult Your Doctor

If you have a very severe headache or one that comes on very quickly, it is best to consult your doctor. Its better to be safe than sorry. One phone call can give you that peace of mind.

Remember, headaches are a normal part of pregnancy, so try not to become alarmed every time you develop one.

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