How to deal with headaches during pregnancy
Many women get headaches during pregnancy, and if you’re already prone to headaches, you may find them getting worse while you’re expecting (sorry!). Here’s what you need to know.
Why am I getting headaches?
Women often get headaches during pregnancy and they are not usually a cause for concern. “Some women find that the hormonal changes in pregnancy trigger headaches,” says Amanda Selk, an OB/GYN at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. As your pregnancy progresses, carrying the extra weight of your baby belly can result in headaches related to poor posture and tension.
On top of the pregnancy-related causes, many regular causes of headaches are still at play when you’re expecting. Common triggers include tight head, neck and back muscles, sinus congestion, dehydration, hunger and stress.
If you’re experiencing headaches and can’t determine the cause, Heather Martin, an Edmonton-based midwife, recommends talking to your health care provider, who may recommend you get your eyes checked. “Some women experience a change in their vision during pregnancy. It could be that your prescription needs to be changed.”
How can I relieve headache pain when I’m pregnant?
To keep tension in your shoulders and neck at bay, you can take warm baths or try massage, acupuncture or chiropractic services. Getting enough rest is also key to preventing and dealing with headaches. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water—a glass of water at the onset of a headache can also help relieve pain—and eat regular meals.
Tylenol has long been considered the safest over-the-counter medication for pregnant women, although a 2016 study in the International Journal of Epidemiology found a link between acetaminophen and autism. While studies like this tend to cause panic, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take Tylenol. “It’s not a warning that women should stay completely clear of acetaminophen,” says David Olson, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics and physiology at the University of Alberta. As with all medications during pregnancy, women should take the lowest dose possible for the shortest period of time.
Selk notes that low doses of caffeine can ease headaches and are not harmful while pregnant (up to 300 mg a day is considered safe), so you could try having a cup of black tea or a small cup of coffee.
Caffeine during pregnancy: Is it safe?
When to worry about headaches during pregnancy
While headaches can be agonizing, they are rarely dangerous. But some can signal a serious problem: “A concerning headache can be associated to preeclampsia,” says Martin. “If there’s a sudden onset and it won’t go away; and if there’s visual disturbances such as flashing lights or sparks, similar to a migraine, you need emergency assessment.” In this case, do whatever your health care provider has asked you to do in an emergency, like page them or go to the hospital.
Selk also advises calling your doctor or midwifeif a headache doesn’t get better with two doses of extra-strength Tylenol, and if you’re also vomiting, if it occurs after trauma such 5th third bank customer service phone number bumping your head, if you have any numbness or weakness of any part of your body with the headache, if you have vision changes or if you have high blood pressure.
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FILED UNDER:Being pregnantPregnancy healthpregnancy symptoms
Headaches during pregnancy are common, but there are certain types of head pain you should see a doctor for
This article was medically reviewed by Medhat Mikhael, MD, a pain management specialist and medical director of the non-operative program at the Spine Health Center at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.
- People who are pregnant are more prone to headaches due to a number of factors.
- Hormone fluctuations and a higher risk of dehydration are some factors for pregnancy headaches.
- To get rid of a pregnancy headache, try a warm compress or OTC medication like Tylenol.
- Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.
Headaches are extremely common in everyone, but especially in those who are pregnant.
That's because pregnant people can have additional risk factors for headaches, including increased sinus congestion, interrupted sleep, and dehydration, says Matthew Fore, MD, webster bank headquarters OB-GYN with Providence St. Joseph Hospital.
Most of the time, pregnancy headaches are harmless. However, a headache that comes on suddenly, particularly in the second half of pregnancy, could be a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical aid, says David Columbo, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist with Spectrum Health.
Here's what you should know about pregnancy headaches and how to get relief.
When do pregnancy headaches start?
Pregnancy headaches can become more frequent around nine weeks, when hormones and blood volume increase.
But, in general, headaches during pregnancy can start any time and feel like a typical headache you might have had when you weren't pregnant.
The pain from a pregnancy headache might be concentrated on one side of the head, the sinuses, or both sides of the head, Columbo says.
Pregnant people have additional risk factors that can make them more prone to headaches, including:
- Sinus pressure:Increased blood volume during pregnancy can increase pressure on the sinuses, leading to a sinus headache, says Columbo.
- Sleep interruptions: Getting less sleep can increase headache risk, and up to 94% of pregnant people report sleep disruptions that can increase headache risk, says Fore.
- Dehydration: Pregnancy-related nausea can keep people from drinking enough water, increasing risk for dehydration-related headaches, says Fore.
- Hunger: As you get used to eating more calories, you may experience bouts of hunger and low blood sugar that can trigger headaches.
- Hormonal fluctuations: Hormonal fluctuations can play a role in migraines, and may be a factor for migraine headaches during pregnancy, says Fore.
- Increased tension: Weight gain and body changes can put pressure on the shoulders and neck, leading to tension headache, Fore says.
- Caffeine withdrawal: People who give up caffeine while pregnant may experience withdrawal symptoms like fatigue and headaches, especially if they were drinking a lot of caffeine prior to pregnancy.
High blood pressure related to preeclampsia can cause headaches too, mostly after week 22, Columbo says. If you have a sudden, persistent headache that is different from what you've experienced in other points during the pregnancy, call your doctor immediately, he says.
Identifying the cause of your headache can help you get relief, Columbo says.
For example, if the headache is allergy-related, taking an antihistamine might help, he says. Unfortunately, treating headaches takes a bit of trial and error to find what works for you, Columbo says.
That said, here are multiple options that pregnant people can try for headache relief:
- Drink water. Fore always recommends that his patients drink an entire glass of water when they feel a headache coming on. This can help to prevent the headache if it's caused by dehydration. It also can help you to pause and relax, which may help if the headache is related to stress or anxiety.
- Rest in a quiet, dark room. Rest can reduce tension and interrupt a headache, Fore says. While you're resting, avoid screens, including television, tablets, and phones, he recommends.
- Tylenol and other medications: Although pregnant people cannot take many NSAID pain relievers, like Motrin or Ibuprofen, Tylenol is perfectly safe during pregnancy and can be used to treat headaches. "Women suffer needlessly because they're afraid of a medicine," Columbo says. If you were on migraine medication before pregnancy, talk to your doctor about pregnancy-safe options.
- Hot or cold compress: Heat and cold can both relax muscles in the head and neck, which can help with headache relief, Fore says. Experiment with which is more effective for you, or alternate hot and cold packs, he recommends.
- Scalp, shoulder and neck massage. Massage can relieve pain from tension headaches and is a great way to boost relaxation, Fore says.
When to see your doctor
Headaches in pregnant people are particularly concerning during the third trimester, when risk for preeclampsia rises.Related
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.
Imaging including MRIs are safe during pregnancy and should be utilized by people with severe headaches, Columbo said. MRIs can help diagnose migraines, which could inform your treatment options.
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.
Like headaches in the general population, headaches in pregnant people are common. They have a variety of causes, so there are many possible treatments.
In most cases headaches are inconvenient but harmless. However, a sudden, persistent headache, particularly in the third trimester can indicate preeclampsia, a serious condition.
"Headaches can be very common in pregnancy, but they should be taken seriously as it can be a warning sign of high blood pressure," says Fore. "If after rest, drinking water, and Tylenol your headache is still present, call your doctor."
Headaches in pregnancy
To treat headaches
If you experience a headache, there are a few home remedies for migraines during pregnancy you can try at home that may help:
- rest in a dark room and take long, slow deep breaths
- apply hot or cold packs to your head and neck
- eat small meals often
- get a massage
- relax in a warm bath or warm shower
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.
Check with your GP, pharmacist or midwife before taking any medication.
When to seek help
Tell your doctor or midwife if you often have bad headaches. It could be a sign of a more serious problem.
Non-urgent advice: Contact realtor homes for sale near me midwife or GP immediately if you have:
- generalised swelling, especially if this is sudden
- flashing lights in your eyes or blurred vision
- been told your blood pressure is increasing
- a sudden severe headache
- a headache that is worsening
- a migraine that feels different to the migraines you usually have
- a pain in the upper part of your tummy
What Are Migraines?
A migraine is a type of headache that recurs (keeps coming back), and also causes other symptoms. The pain is often throbbing and can happen on one or both sides of the head. People with migraines can feel dizzy or sick to their stomachs. They may be sensitive to light, noise, or smells.
Migraines can be disabling, and teens with migraines often need to skip school, sports, work, or other activities until they feel better.
Who Gets Migraines?
If you have migraines, you're not alone. Up to 10% of U.S. teens and young adults get migraines. And after age 12, during and after puberty, migraines affect girls twice as often as guys.
Experts believe that the likelihood of getting migraines runs in the family. If one of your parents gets migraines, you have a greater chance home remedies for migraines during pregnancy having them than someone who doesn't have that family history.
What Causes Migraines?
The exact cause of migraines isn't known. Scientists think that they happen because some neurons (nerves in the brain) stop working properly and send the wrong signals. This may affect the nerve system that regulates pain.
Whatever the cause, experts do agree that different things trigger (set off) migraines in people who have them.
Common migraine triggers include:
- changes in hormone levels, such as from periods or birth control pill use
- skipping meals
- too much caffeine or withdrawal from caffeine (suddenly having less caffeine than usual)
- some foods (alcohol, cheese, citrus fruits, pizza, chocolate, ice cream, home remedies for migraines during pregnancy changes in sleep patterns
- weather changes
What Happens During a Migraine?
Every migraine begins differently. Sometimes people get a warning that a migraine is on its way. A few hours or even days before the actual headache, people might feel funny or "not right. They might crave different foods, or feel thirsty, irritable, tired, or even full of energy. This is called a "premonition."
Some people get auras. These are neurological symptoms that start just before the headache and last up to an hour. An aura is different in every person, but it often affects vision. For example, a person might:
- have blurred vision
- see spots, colored balls, jagged lines, or bright flashing lights
- smell a certain odor
- feel tingling in a part of their face
Once the headache starts, light, smell, or sound may bother people with migraines or make them feel worse. Sometimes, if they try to continue with their usual routine, they may become nauseated and vomit. Often the pain begins only on one side of the head, but it might eventually affect both sides. Trying to do physical activities can make the pain worse.
Most migraines last from 30 minutes to several hours; some can last a couple of days.
How Are Migraines Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask a lot of questions to see what might be causing the symptoms, and will examine you, paying particular attention to the neurological exam. He or she may ask you to keep a headache diary to help figure out what triggers your headaches. The information you record will help the doctor figure out the best treatment.
Sometimes, doctors may order blood tests or imaging tests, such as a CAT scan or MRI of the brain, to rule out medical problems that might cause a person's migraines.
How Are Migraines Treated?
Migraine headaches and their triggers can vary a lot between people. Treatment can depend on how severe the headaches are, how often they happen, and what symptoms a person gets with them.
Usually it ally bank routing transit number to lie down in a cool, dark, quiet room. Your doctor may prescribe pain relief medicine or medicines that help with nausea and vomiting. Some people need preventive medicines that are taken every day to reduce the number and severity of the migraines.
Some doctors teach a technique called biofeedback to their patients with migraines. This helps a person learn to relax and use the brain to gain control over certain body functions (like heart rate and muscle stress) that cause tension and pain. If a migraine begins slowly, some people can use biofeedback to remain calm and stop the attack.
Adding other non-medicine therapies to the treatment plan, such as acupuncture or herbs, helps some people with migraines. But ask your health care provider about these before trying them. This is especially true of herbal treatments because they can affect how other medicines work.
Can Migraines Be Prevented?
You can't prevent every migraine. But learning your triggers and trying to avoid them can help. Take a break from activities that might start a migraine, such as using the computer for a long time. If you know that some foods are triggers, skip them. Some people find that cutting back on caffeine or drinking a lot of water can help prevent migraines.
Make a plan for all the things you have to do — especially during stressful times like exams — so you don't feel overwhelmed when things pile up. Regular exercise also can reduce stress and make you feel better.
The more you understand about your headaches, the better prepared you can be to fight them.
If you are a migraine sufferer, like me, you probably said, “Ha!” to the above, as you have likely tried all of the natural ways to relieve migraines, and now either rely on medications, or suffer during pregnancy when your medication may not be safe to take. Yes, I hear you loud and clear, but all the same, there are some effective, natural ways to tackle headaches in pregnancy.
First, let’s talk about causes of headaches in pregnancy. You will notice that at each and every one of your prenatal visits with us, we will ask you if you have been having headaches. The reason for this is that it is a screening question for preeclampsia, which is a complicated and dangerous condition that can affect women in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Whenever you are having unusual headaches, home remedies for migraines during pregnancy towards the end of pregnancy, we always kind of pick them apart to determine if there is a concerning cause, or if these could be normal for you.
And then, there are all sorts of “normal” reasons why we get headaches in pregnancy. To begin with, many, many people suffer from migraines, and that would not change for most people during pregnancy. Some other common reasons for headaches include:
- hormonal changes
- dehydration (perhaps related to nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy)
- sleep problems
- muscle tension
- changes in blood volume
- low blood sugar
- inadequate nutrition
- changes in physical activity
- vision changes
- sinuses and allergies
- food triggers (nitrates, cheeses, chocolate – there’s a long list of possible culprits)
And probably a whole lot more. Our heads are so sensitive!
So, what do we do about them if we are trying to avoid medications? Here are a few ideas:
Try to Identify the Underlying Cause
This seems obvious, but I can tell you from experience as a headache sufferer that sometimes we are just miserable and flounder while we throw stuff at our headaches and hope it works, rather than trying to figure out the cause. For me, I often have to pry myself away from my computer and desk work to try to stop a migraine that is triggered by muscle tension. I also have to make sure I eat at pretty regular intervals, and avoid food triggers. For you, try to take a look at the whole picture and figure out what might set your headaches off.
If you have not already put some kind of grain bag in your freezer, do it now. I have cloth bags filled with corn, rice, flax, and millet of varying sizes and shapes to pull out when I need one. Try lying down with a bag at the base of your skull and one at the front of your head (or where the pain is). Close you eyes and rest this way for 20 or 30 minutes – it might help constrict the angry blood vessels and relieve the pain.
You can also throw these grain bags in the microwave if you want to try a warm compress (great for all manner of muscle aches, too!). A good time to do this is if you think your headache might be sinus related – some moist heat on the front of the head may bring some relief.
Exercise in general is a great thing to do to try to avoid headaches, but yoga in particular may be helpful to release tension in muscles. You can even find short videos that focus on the neck and shoulders – home remedies for migraines during pregnancy wonderful!
Employing some self-massage techniques at the start of your headaches, such as these, can be a great help. As a preventative, keeping a regular appointment with a massage therapist is a wonderful option, if this is possible for you.
Some people (like me) are averse to smells when they have a headache, so oils may not be for them. But there are many people who swear by applying oils such as lavender and peppermint to the temples to bring headache relief.
Chiropractic and acupuncture
If it is an option for you to keep a regular appointment with these providers, there can be a great benefit to it. Keeping you body in good alignment can be key to prevention of headaches. Acupuncture can also be a good thing to try if you are in the middle of a monster headache – I have done it, and it has worked for me a couple of times.
We hope some of these ideas home remedies for migraines during pregnancy for you!
Pregnancy and Headache: Why It Happens and What to Do
Pregnancy is a crucial time of life — a time when the expectant mother wants to make sure that she is taking care of herself and that everything where is the routing number located on my check going well.
SEE ALSO: 3 Reasons Women Are More Likely to Have Insomnia
Unfortunately, frequent or severe headaches can waylay these plans for many mothers-to-be. Here, neurologist and headache specialist Lauren A. Aymen, D.O., shares the medications, supplements, treatments home remedies for migraines during pregnancy symptomatic red flags pregnant women should watch for.
Is it common for pregnant women to have headaches or migraines home remedies for migraines during pregnancy pregnancy?
Aymen: Yes. Migraines are usually worse in the first trimester but can improve during the second and third trimester. Unfortunately, in 4 to 8 percent of women, migraines can worsen. Headache frequency typically returns back to the patient’s pre-pregnancy baseline after home remedies for migraines during pregnancy the reason for this?
Aymen: Pregnancy usually brings with it hormonal changes, stress, disrupted sleep, nausea and dehydration. And all of these conditions may worsen migraine in pregnancy.
What can be done for pregnant women who have migraines?
Aymen: You can’t use most of the over-the-counter (OTC) medications during pregnancy — with the exception of Tylenol (acetaminophen). Magnesium and riboflavin are OTC supplements that are safe and can be effective as well.
Unfortunately, there are few prescription headache medications that are safe to use during pregnancy.
However, there are certain procedures that are safe during pregnancy that can aid in preventing and stopping migraines. For instance, we commonly use nerve blocks to reduce credit card generator with money on it frequency and severity of headaches. One example is an occipital nerve block, which is very effective at reducing the burden of pain during pregnancy.
SEE ALSO: The Best OTC Meds and Supplements to Treat Headache
There is also a new procedure called a sphenopalatine ganglion nerve block, which involves placing a small rubber tube approximately 4 centimeters (about 1 1/2 inches) into each nostril and delivering medication to the sphenopalatine ganglion, a branch of the facial nerve. This is very effective for home remedies for migraines during pregnancy with frontal or retro-orbital head pain and certain facial pain syndromes. One advantage to this procedure is there are no needles involved, so it’s minimally invasive. In addition, the medication we use in both procedures acts locally and does not have systemic side effects.
If effective, these procedures can be repeated during pregnancy without any known risk to the baby.
Can a headache be a sign of something more serious?
Aymen: Yes. A headache with any of the following symptoms — if you’re pregnant or not — could suggest something more serious.
The red flags include:
Helpful tips to suppress nausea or morning sickness include eating small portions but often, and including more Vitamin B6 and zinc in your diet or as supplements. Vitamin B6 can be found in prenatal vitamins and in many foods including bananas, nuts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, lean meats, and fish. No signs of harm have been found with use of Vitamin B6 on the fetus, but do not take more than suggested daily by your physician because some side effects may include numbness or nerve damage to the mother. A general dose for Vitamin B6 is 10-25 mg, 3 times a day.
Moreover, sip fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated and be sure to drink fluids before and after each meal. Try to eat a few salty chips and crackers to settle your stomach before a meal. Make sure to maintain regular exercise as well. The American Pregnancy Association recommends not lying down after eating, skipping meals, or cooking or eating spicy foods.
Always discuss your options and concerns with your health practitioner, but try out these suggestions before using any non-natural drugs. Natural remedies may be safer for your baby and better for your total health.