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 Should I Be Concerned
When a headache is severe, or just doesnt go away, or when you have dizziness, blurred vision, or changes in your field of vision, you should contact your healthcare provider. Headaches can sometimes be related to blood pressure problems in pregnancy. If they are persistent or severe and happen after 20 weeks of pregnancy, let your healthcare provider know. Although strokes during pregnancy are rare, migraines can increase a pregnant womans risk for them. If you have migraines, report them to your healthcare provider.
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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When Should I Call My Doctor
Whether you experience headaches or not, its always important to discuss your pre-pregnancy history, obstetrical history and concerns with your doctor for an individualized assessment and management plan. However, if none of the above treatments resolve your mild headache or your headaches become more frequent and severe, talk to your doctor to determine the cause.
This includes new headaches that present after 20 weeks, a sudden onset of severe headaches, headaches associated with a fever, mental health changes, elevated blood pressure and vision changes, Dr. Saunders said. Its important to keep an open line of communication with your physician and let them know about any changes in your health so they can rule out anything serious.
What Happens To Migraine During The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy
Things tend to improve. But the third trimester may be a time when healthcare providers are particularly concerned about the secondary causes of headache. Please report any change in headache characteristics to your healthcare provider. Also, a black box warning for the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs after 20 weeks gestation has been recently issued by the FDA because of potential complications that can be caused by these treatments.
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Using Painkillers When Pregnant
Some medicines, including painkillers, can harm your baby’s health.
Paracetamol is generally considered safe during pregnancy. Always check the packaging for the correct amount of tablets to take, and how often you may take them.
If you find you need to take paracetamol for more than a couple of days, you may need to speak to your GP.
Ibuprofen is sometimes recommended for headaches during pregnancy. You can only take this at certain times during your pregnancy. Always check with your GP, pharmacist or obstetrician before taking ibuprofen.
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.
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How Should I Feel During Third Trimester
Hot Flashes and Chills Hot Flashes. Many women report feeling hot or overheating during the third trimester of pregnancy. Ways to Cope. Wear less/light layers and cool fabrics. Turn on fans and air conditioning. Drink iced water. Chills. Feeling cold is a less common symptom of the third trimester, although some women do report fever-like chills and pains.
How To Treat Migraines And Headaches In Pregnant Women
Primary headaches in pregnant women usually can be treated at home. Rest, a neck or scalp massage, hot or cold packs, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as Tylenol, aspirin, or ibuprofen can reduce the pain. However, if you start to have frequent or severe headaches, talk to your doctor to determine the cause.
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Frequency Of Migraines During Pregnancy
Many women have migraines for the first time when theyre expecting others, including women with a history of migraines, get them more often.
Blame your out-of-whack pregnancy hormones, plus all those other pregnancy-related triggers youre experiencing: fatigue, tension, blood sugar drops, physical or emotional stress, nasal congestion and overheating or a combination of all of these.
That said, some women who have a history of migraines related to their menstrual cycle actually end up getting these headaches less often when theyre expecting, particularly during the second and third trimesters.
Thats because their migraines are likely caused by the withdrawal of estrogen that occurs just before menstruation during pregnancy, estrogen levels remain consistently high.
Migraine Relief And Remedies During Pregnancy
A migraine bearing down on you? Stay away from ibuprofen and talk to your doctor before taking an aspirin. Try the following instead:
- Relax. If you suspect a migraine coming on, lie down in a quiet, dark room with a cold compress on your neck or forehead for two or three hours. With any luck, youll fall asleep and wake up migraine-free.
- Pop an acetaminophen. While you should never take any pain medication over the counter, prescription or herbal without the OK from your doctor, the occasional use of Tylenol is considered safe during pregnancy. Check with your practitioner for recommendations on dosing.
- Talk to your doc. If you relied on strong migraine medications before you conceived, you may have to avoid them until the baby arrives . Your doctor may be able to recommend safer drug options, or refer you to a migraine specialist, who can suggest other strategies for managing your pain.
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How To Treat Migraines When Naturally Doesnt Work
Sometimes, a migraine might continue to plague you, even after you have tried the above remedies. If the pain persists, you can take Tylenol however, it is important to avoid Aspirin and Ibuprofen. These are not safe to take during pregnancy. If the migraines become a constant nuisance, you may want to talk to your doctor about alternative medications that are safe to take during pregnancy. You can learn more about which medications are safe during pregnancy here.
If you currently take pain medication for migraines, it is best to discuss with your doctor whether it is safe to continue using. It is best to avoid using any herbal remedies to alleviate migraines during pregnancy, as many have not been tested, and some have been shown to lead to complications.
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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.
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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.
What Can You Take For A Migraine While Pregnant
Most migraine treatments are not recommended during pregnancy, although most pregnant people can safely take acetaminophen to treat occasional migraines. and most anti-nausea medications are generally considered safe.
Make sure to speak to your healthcare provider before taking any medication, including over-the-counter medications and herbal treatments.
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What Is A Pregnancy Migraine
If you suffer from migraines, theres a good chance you will continue to experience them throughout your pregnancy. However, you may find them less painful or less frequent than before.
While pregnant, your body will undergo a number of hormonal changes, such as dramatic boosts in estrogen, and a drop in progesterone.
For many women, low levels of estrogen can trigger a migraine attack. So it is this rise in estrogen produced to enable the uterus and placenta to transfer nutrients to the foetus which is to thank for some womens migraines becoming easier to manage while they are carrying.
But this break wont last too long. As hormone levels balance back out postpartum, migraines may return to their pre-pregnancy state especially in the first few months when prolactin levels rise.
This alleviation may also be due to the production of endorphins natural pain-killing hormones in the body. As your body prepares to give birth, the endorphins created may also lend a hand in making migraines feel less severe than when you were not pregnant.
Whats more, the majority of pregnant women steer clear of alcohol and consciously eat more healthily whilst they are carrying. These lifestyle changes reduce the risk of these common migraine triggers causing problems.
But how likely are you to have pregnancy migraines?
We keep talking about symptoms of pregnancy migraine, but what are they? Are they any different to migraine at other times of your life?
Drugs To Treat The Symptoms Of Migraine
Most painkillers are safe to use in pregnancy. However, check with your doctor, particularly if you are getting headaches more often than a couple of days a week.
Paracetamol is the drug of choice in pregnancy, having been used extensively without apparent harm to the developing baby.9
Aspirin has been taken by many pregnant women in the first and second terms of pregnancy.9 However, it should be avoided near the expected time of delivery since, it may be associated with early closure of the fetal ductus arteriosis and can also increase bleeding.9
Codeine: Codeine is not generally recommended for the management of migraine in the UK.10 However, occasional use in doses found in combined analgesics is unlikely to cause harm.
Ibuprofen: can be taken during the first and second trimesters in doses not exceeding 600mg daily.9 However, frequent use or exposure to high doses after 30 weeks is associated with an increased risk of premature closure of the ductus arteriosus.9
Antisickness drugs Buclizine, chlorpromazine, domperidone, metoclopramide and prochlorperazine have all been used widely in pregnancy without apparent harm.
Data regarding safety of sumatriptan during pregnancy are reassuring.11 However, continuing triptans during pregnancy is not recommended without medical supervision.
Ergots Ergotamine should not be used during pregnancy as it can increase the risk of miscarriage and perinatal death.
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When To Seek Help
Migraines during pregnancy arent a major cause for concern in women with a history of these types of headaches. However, a first-time migraine attack during pregnancy could indicate an underlying health issue and should be discussed with your doctor so they can evaluate your symptoms and rule out other potential causes. Migraines during pregnancy can also signal preeclampsia, a serious complication related to high blood pressure.
The most important thing to remember is that, in general, migraines do not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of your baby. If you have further questions or concerns about recurring headaches, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Is It Normal To Have Headaches And Neck Pain During Pregnancy
Headaches and Neck Pain while Pregnant- Cause, Treatment and Prevention. Its not unusual to get tension headaches and neck pain during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. These headaches can feel like a steady dull ache or a squeezing pain on both sides of the head or the back of the neck.
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Migraine Triggers During Pregnancy
Hormonal change is a common trigger for women with migraine. During pregnancy, oestrogen levels increase sharply, while progesterone levels decrease and rise again towards the end of the pregnancy.
Overall migraine improves during pregnancy especially during the second and third trimesters. This improvement may be due to the increased oestrogen levels and increased levels of natural pain-killing hormones .
These hormones are several times higher during pregnancy, and though the relief from migraine attacks they provide might last the whole pregnancy, the levels settle back down after delivery, normally allowing migraine attacks to return.
However, not everyone will see an improvement in their migraine, especially in the early weeks of pregnancy. For some women, their migraine is unaffected. Some women experience worsening migraine during pregnancy although this is rare.
During breastfeeding, stable oestrogen levels continue to be protective against having headache again after pregnancy.
However you are affected, it can help to identify any migraine attack triggers that you have, such as lack of sleep, stress, missed meals and dehydration. Keeping a headache diary may help pinpoint your triggers so you can avoid those things. Log when the headache happened, what triggered it, and how long it lasted. Common triggers include but are not limited to:
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.
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What Causes Headaches In Pregnancy
The exact cause of a headache isnt always clear. 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. Hunger and low levels of blood sugar can trigger headaches, too. Women who suddenly stop their morning coffee and sodas may experience caffeine withdrawal headaches. Those who also suffer with nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy can become dehydrated. This can also bring on a headache.
Migraine headaches are a common type of headache in pregnancy. These painful, throbbing headaches are usually felt on one side of the head and result from expansion of the blood vessels in the brain. The misery is sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. A small percentage of women with migraines also have an aura with the migraine. They see flashes of light or feel tingling in their arms and legs.
Relax In A Dark Quiet Room
Its not enough to just lie down on the couch and watch TV in most cases, as screens will only make matters worse. Instead, close the blinds and turn off the lights and just rest.
You can try and sleep it off, and use a cold compress on your neck and/or forehead for even better relief. This will help with the hot flashes you may feel from a migraine.
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