Home > Special Circumstances > Headache and Migraine Relief During Pregnancy

Headache and Migraine Relief During Pregnancy

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 4 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Pregnancy Migraine Headache Hormones

Headaches are common during pregnancy, and may involve tension headaches or migraines. Tension headaches tend to feel like a dull ache on both sides of the head and around the neck area. They are often the result of stress, exhaustion, dehydration or allergies. Approximately twenty percent of pregnant women, however, will suffer from migraine headaches.

What Are Migraines?

Migraines are different from the more common tension and stress headaches and can last anywhere from two to forty-eight hours, and occasionally even longer. They are a type of vascular headache, believed to result from an abnormality in the functioning of the brain's blood vessels. Any headache can be painful but migraine headaches are often disabling.

Symptoms of a migraine may include:

  • Throbbing or pounding pain in the temples or front/base of head
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • An 'aura' where the sufferer sees flashing lights or lines
  • Tunnel vision or blind spots
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue

How Does Pregnancy Affect Migraines?

Migraines often occur during the first three months of pregnancy, with most women finding that they disappear during the second and third trimesters. Despite what may be severe pain for the mother, migraines do not pose a direct threat to the foetus. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can actually reduce the frequency and severity of migraines or make them worse. Some women also find that they experience their first migraine during pregnancy.

Migraine Treatment During Pregnancy

It is important that treatment is directed by a physician or other health care provider who can confirm that the pain is from a migraine, and not the result of other causes. The challenge in treatment is to maximize migraine relief while minimizing the potential for foetal harm. Prevention is the ideal approach, followed by natural methods and finally, medications.

Prevention

Common dietary triggers for migraines are chocolate, cheese and coffee. Food preservatives such as monsodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrites, often found in processed meats, can prompt migraines. It may be helpful to use a food diary to monitor diet and identify potential triggers. Also, stress, sleeping disturbances, bright lights, loud noises and skipping meals can all trigger migraines.

Natural Treatments

If a migraine does occur, some women find that relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, gentle yoga or meditation are helpful in easing the pain. Other measures might include bed rest in a darkened room, cold packs, and sleep. Regular exercise, which could involve light walking, has also been shown to help alleviate migraines.

Another technique that may help is massage, especially if performed by a prenatal massage therapist. Acupuncture has also been suggested for migraine relief and is considered safe during pregnancy.

Medication

Acetaminophen use during pregnancy has been well studied and is generally an acceptable medication for migraine treatment. Some preparations, however, do contain caffeine and studies have suggested that caffeine consumption in pregnant women be limited to less than 300 mg per day. Prescription medications for migraines are generally not considered safe for use in pregnant women.

Pregnancy can be both an overwhelming and exciting time, as women cope with physical and emotional changes. Migraine headaches may become more frequent or severe but treatment options do exist.

By taking care of yourself, identifying migraine triggers and finding the personal treatment that works, more time can be spent enjoying the pregnancy and preparing for your new arrival.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Got headache a lot don't no wat to use. Am in my 15 weeks now. Thank you
sharon - 12-Sep-12 @ 7:29 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Julieregan
    Re: Headaches and Migraines in Women
    I have an overactive thyroid gland and have had it since I was 40. I am using carbimazole tablets once daily. I struggle with…
    25 July 2017
  • holycow
    Re: Sinus Headaches
    my daughter has been diagnosed as suffering from a virus in the brain, how can she get rid of this pounding headache that never stops
    24 July 2017
  • JTV56
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Stells - I would - it doesn't harm and it's always best to be on the safe side. Jean.
    20 July 2017
  • Stells
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I fell backwards 2 weeks ago and hit my head on the pavement, initially it dud hurt and I had a headache the next day. I was on…
    19 July 2017
  • bree
    Re: Thyroid Disease and Headaches
    2011 March 27th migraine started after herniated disc c5/c6 had a formanectomy in 2012 after a conservation period under…
    12 July 2017
  • Tomba
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    My problem started about 15 days ago. The pain first started at the right side of the head including the right cheek, right ear and…
    6 July 2017
  • PrinDi
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    @Stinging Headpain - Poor you, it sounds genuinely awful. I hope you get better soon and manage to resolve all these awful…
    4 July 2017
  • Stinging Headpain
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    Oops...My pain is on top of left side of my head. It feels like my head is on fire sometimes..I have also tried a chiropractor.…
    3 July 2017
  • Stinging Headpain
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I have been in pain off and on for 11 years...The first bout of pain lasted for 6 months..It will stop for a few months and start…
    3 July 2017
  • HeadacheExpert
    Re: Herbal Remedies for Headache and Migraine Relief
    Ummnoor - Your Question:If you have had an MRI (CTS?) scan and nothing unusual has been found then the…
    3 July 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the HeadacheExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.