What To Do For Migraine During Pregnancy

Natural Remedies For Pregnancy Migraines:

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

During the first three months the symptoms of pregnancy can make your migraine worse. Morning sickness can mean that you feel like eating and drinking less which can cause low blood sugar and dehydration. If you are not careful this can make your migraines worse. You should try to eat small frequent meals and drink frequent small amounts of water to prevent this. You will also be helping reduce any pregnancy sickness. Other remedies may include:

  • Dark Room Often, a migraine can make you sensitive to bright lights. Find a dark room, and turn off any electronics.
  • Nap Lying down to take a short nap can help alleviate migraines. Many people report that an hour nap is often enough to stop the pain.
  • Cold Pack While lying down, place a cold pack or damp towel on your head. The cold should constrict blood vessels in your head and help alleviate the pain.
  • Relaxation Techniques Talk to your doctor about relaxation exercises that are safe during pregnancy. Relaxing the muscles around your back, neck, and head can release the pressure causing the migraine.
  • Take care of yourself Sometimes, migraines can be set off by dehydration, tiredness, not eating well, or lack of sleep. Try to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, which can help mitigate the symptoms of migraines.

When To Seek Medical Attention

Migraines can have various signs of onset, and the diagnosis is based on some specific symptoms . It is imperative to identify these initial symptoms and seek immediate medical attention, if:

  • Aura experienced for over an hour.
  • Symptoms do not subside for a long time
  • One-sided weakness
  • First-time symptoms of migraine during pregnancy.

What Happens To Migraine During The First Trimester Of Pregnancy

For some women, migraine worsens within the first trimester of pregnancy. In some cases, women may experience aura for the first time or have a change in aura features. For example, if they had visual aura in the past they may have sensory or language aura as well. It’s a time when migraine clinical features can change.

One important point is that if the headache becomes severe or unresponsive to even conservative treatments, healthcare providers will be concerned about secondary causes. There is a higher chance of secondary headache in the setting of pregnancy due to hypercoagulability .

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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 you’re 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.

Is Melatonin Safe To Take During Pregnancy

Pregnancy And Migraine Headaches: What Women Need To Know ...

Hormones and changing seasons have a fascinating impact on cluster headaches, and melatonin can be a highly beneficial preventive treatment with fewer side effects than Verapamil and steroids. Melatonin use during pregnancy seems to depend on the provider and the study. It’s often used to promote better sleep, whether you’re pregnant or not, and some research shows taking a melatonin supplement can improve outcomes in compromised pregnancies.3,4

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Effect Of Pregnancy On Migraine

Migraine headaches often improve during pregnancy, but have also been to known to worsen or start during pregnancy.2,3 A link between migraine and the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, is seen in menstrual migraine and migraine in pregnancy.3 Almost half of women with migraine have improvment during the first trimester , and this improvement increases substantially in the second and third trimesters.4 The number of women with complete remission in the first trimester is low however, the rate of complete remission increases significantly as pregnancy progresses .5 Migraine with aura is less likely to improve or remit compared with migraine without aura.5 In a study of pregnant women with menstrual migraine, participants reported increased headache intensity but not frequency early in pregnancy , compared with pregnant women whose migraines were not menstrual.6 Regardless of whether womens migraines were menstrual or nonmenstrual, headache intensity decreased during the second half of pregnancy as did frequency of analgesic use.6

Migraine itself may be a potential teratogen. A retrospective study showed that women treated for acute migraine had higher rates of preterm delivery, preeclampsia, and low birthweight.7 A more recent prospective observational study, however, showed no teratogenic effect of migraine itself.8

Migraines During Pregnancy: Best Things To Do

Many women visit a chiropractor for migraines each month for pain relief more than men do. The leading reason behind this is their fluctuating hormone levels throughout the menstrual cycle. As a result, child-bearing women tend to suffer from frequent migraine attacks. In some cases, women who never experience migraines before pregnancy end up having severe attacks during and after their term.

Typically, its okay to take pain medications like ibuprofen and other NSAIDs to relieve migraines and headaches. They work fast and reduce the pain for a couple of hours. However, when youre expecting a child, you may need to use a different approach when managing your migraine symptoms.

  • Chiropractor for Migraines Near You
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    Hormonal Changes In Pregnancy

    How a pregnancy might affect your migraine and how you will manage is a common question for women who have migraine and are trying to get or are pregnant. Key issues include what medicines are safe to use and whether your attacks will change, including whether you will have aura for the first time.

    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.

    When Should I Call A Doctor Or Midwife About A Headache In Pregnancy

    Migraines during pregnancy

    Call your midwife, doctor or hospital maternity unit if you have a very bad headache or a headache that wont go away. This could be a symptom of pregnancy induced hypertension. This is a type of high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks and goes away within 6 weeks of the baby’s birth. Its also known as gestational high blood pressure or gestational hypertension.

    Call your midwife, doctor or hospital straight away if you have a headache and vision problems and sudden swelling on your hands, feet, face or stomach. This could be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy condition that can be dangerous for you and the baby if it is not monitored and treated.

    • discomfort in the lowest part of your stomach
    • back pain
    • loin pain
    • needing to wee a lot or an uncontrollable need to wee
    • cloudy, foul-smelling or bloody wee
    • a raised temperature
    • feeling sick and vomiting.

    This could be a sign of a urinary tract infection. UTIs cab be treated with antibiotics that are safe to use in pregnancy.

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    What Are Migraine Headaches

    Vascular headaches, a group that includes migraine, are thought to involve abnormal function of the brain’s blood vessels or vascular system. The most common type of vascular headache is a migraine. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by the following:

    • Severe pain on one or both sides of the head

    • Nausea and/or vomiting

    • Disturbed vision and intolerance to light

    People who get migraine headaches seem to have blood vessels that overreact to various triggers, which may include the following:

    • Stress and other emotions

    • Certain foods

    Pregnancy Can Have A Significant Impact On Migraine Symptoms And How Women Should Treat Them Heres What Experts Have To Say

    First, the good news: Between 50 and 80% of pregnant migraine patients actually experience a reduction in migraine attacks during their pregnancy, according to David Dodick, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Arizona. Many doctors believe rising estrogen levels help reduce migraine frequency and intensity. Hormone replacement therapy that mimics pregnancys effect on the body is increasingly being used in migraine treatment plans, especially for those who experience migraines around the time of menstruation. Caution does need to be used however in women who have migraines with aura, as the increased risk of stroke may further be increased by the addition of an estrogen-containing oral contraceptive pill.

    However, some women experience migraine for the first time during pregnancy and some experience an increase in migraine symptoms especially during the first trimester. The appearance or worsening of migraine in pregnant women should be taken very seriously: Studies show that migraine symptoms, when accompanied by high blood pressure, can increase the risk of developing preeclampsia or other vascular complications. Women whose migraine symptoms dont decrease during pregnancy should be particularly vigilant. Its important to work with your obstetrician and your headache doctor when you have migraine to establish a safe treatment plan.

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    Are Migraines Dangerous During Pregnancy

    The only danger is when your headache may be a sign of something else. You should ALWAYS call your health care provider when:

    • Your headache is accompanied by a fever
    • Your headache persists for more than a few hours or returns frequently
    • You are experiencing blurred vision

    It is ALWAYS important to let your health care provider know when you are experiencing any headaches and the details about them.

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    Know More About a Migraine During Pregnancy: Overview

    If you have a mild headache, you can contact your midwife or doctor for medical advice. They can advise which course of treatment would be best for you for example, taking paracetamol and using any of the remedies suggested above.

    If you have a severe persistent headache, however, accompanied by blurry vision, dizziness and swelling in your hands, feet, and face, seek immediate medical attention.

    These might be the warning signs of preeclampsia. This condition is often associated with high blood pressure and is dangerous to you and your baby.

    You can read more in Preeclampsia | Signs, Symptoms And Causes.

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    How Migraines May Impact Your Pregnancy

    As mentioned before, 50-80 percent of women experience a decline in migraine attacks during pregnancy. Thats the good news!

    The rotten news is that the first trimester may be the worst in terms of migraine attacks. Also, a migraineduring pregnancy or notcan often signify a more serious medical condition.

    Unsurprisingly, your healthcare provider will keep a close watch on your migraine attacks. This is especially true if you experienced migraines before pregnancy and theyve gotten worse since becoming pregnant.

    Studies have shown that the risk of developing preeclampsia increases when a pregnant woman experiences migraines. Particularly, when the mom-to-be already struggles with high blood pressure.

    So, can migraines be prevented or managed during pregnancy?

    When Headaches Are Secondary To Other Problems

    Headaches can result from other conditions, some of which are life-threatening:

    Stroke: Sudden and severe headaches might be a sign of a stroke. Women who have strokes during pregnancy or after delivery typically describe the pain as the worst headache of their lives. They also might report other symptoms, such as speech problems, vision issues, or functional problems on one side of the face or body. At the emergency room, the doctor will evaluate you for stroke symptoms, such as visual changes, facial drooping, and arm or leg weakness. If you are having or had a stroke, we will get you emergency treatment at our Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center.

    Preeclampsia: A headache with preeclampsia can indicate a dangerous spike in blood pressure. The doctor will assess you and might admit you to the hospital for management of blood pressure and treatment to prevent seizures.

    Spinal fluid leak: A headache after an epidural or spinal block can indicate a spinal fluid leak, especially if it worsens when you sit or stand up. The most effective treatment is an epidural blood patch, in which the doctor injects a sample of your blood into the leaking area, essentially plugging the hole. This therapy provides dramatic relief right away.

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    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

    What Is The Best Treatment For Headaches While Pregnant

    How To Deal With Migraine Headaches Before, During And After Pregnancy

    If youre hoping to stop a headache naturally, there are plenty of pregnancy-safe steps you can take to battle your symptoms based on the common headache types:

    • For tension headaches and migraines: Lie in a dark, quiet room for a few minutes or if you’re at work, close your eyes and put your feet up. You can also put an ice pack or cold compress on the back of your neck for 20 minutes while you relax. Deep breathing and quiet meditation are two more smart ways to channel calming vibes.
    • For sinus headaches: A stuffy nose is very common in pregnancy, so try steam inhalation to relieve congestion and a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Apply hot and cold compresses to the achy spot, alternating 30 seconds of each for a total of 10 minutes, four times a day. Drinking lots of fluids, especially herbal tea or broth, can help clear stuffiness. And ask the doctor whether you could have a sinus infection and if theres a safe nasal decongestant you can use.
    • For all headaches: While you shouldnt take ibuprofen or Aleve when you’re pregnant, acetaminophen can bring relief and occasional use is considered safe for pregnancy. Always check with your practitioner for the right dosage and never take any medication without getting your doctors okay first.

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    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.

    Managing Cluster Headache And Migraine During Pregnancy

    There were some migraine attacks during the first 13 weeks, which never lasted longer than a day, and I was able to avoid taking any medications for them. But the cluster headaches aren’t as straightforward. At the dawn of my 14th week of pregnancy, I awoke at 7 am with the familiar stabbing pain in my right temple behind my eye. Those first few seconds of the attack came with an inner monologue: Is this just a shadow? What if it’s the start? Then some inner voice found me, saying, It’s okay, you’ve prepared for this. And I had, to a certain extent. I reached for my oxygen tank, and the attack ended a few minutes later, followed by an evening attack around 6 pm. The next few days followed the same pattern of two attacks, one in the early morning and one at the end of my day when I started to relax.

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    Migraines When To Worry

    Pregnant women who have high blood pressure might experience severe pain from migraine headaches.

    You might have high blood pressure at any time in your pregnancy and it pays to check this at regular intervals throughout your pregnancy.

    More common in the second and third trimesters, high blood pressure can be accompanied by flashing lights in the eyes or blurred vision and sternal pain.

    Left untreated, it can lead to preeclampsia, as mentioned above. Severe preeclampsia, also called HELLP Syndrome, could be another reason for migraines in pregnancy.

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