Pregnancy Headache

A pregnancy headache is frequently experienced by those who are pregnant. It is one of the more common frustrations and complaints. Pregnancy headaches may occur at any time during your pregnancy, but they tend to be most common during the first and third trimesters.

What causes pregnancy headaches?

A pregnancy headache during the first trimester is most likely related to the surge in hormones and the increase of blood volume. Stress, inappropriate posture, excessive weight, or changes in your version can make pregnancy headaches even worse. Other causes of pregnancy headaches may be related to one of the following:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Low blood sugar
  • Dehydration
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Stress (too many changes)

Women who have regular migraine headaches may discover that they experience fewer migraines during pregnancy; however, some women may encounter the same number or even more migraine headaches. If you are pregnant, it is important to talk to your health care provider about any medications that you may be taking for headaches.

Pregnancy headaches during the third trimester tend to be related more to poor posture and tension from carrying the baby and extra weight. A Pregnancy headache during the third trimester may also be caused by a high blood pressure. High blood pressure during pregnancy is known as preeclampsia.

How can you to treat pregnancy headaches?

The best way to treat a pregnancy headache is to avoid it altogether. Because tension is a common factor, avoiding or reducing tension is a good way to lessen pregnancy headache pre valance or intensity. Take these steps to help reduce tension:

  • Practice good posture (especially during the third trimester)
  • Get plenty of rest and relaxation
  • Exercise
  • Eat well-balanced meals

If you are not able to prevent a pregnancy headache, there are still things that you can do to help them go away. During pregnancy, you want to try and relieve your headache by natural means if possible. Pain relief medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen are not recommended in most pregnancies; however, acetaminophen may be recommended by your health care provider.

You may want to try to relieve your pregnancy 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

You may also reduce the likelihood of migraine headaches by avoiding common triggers of migraine headaches. Potential triggers include:

  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Yogurt
  • Aged cheese
  • Peanuts
  • Breads with fresh yeast
  • Preserved meats
  • Sour cream

When should you contact your health care provider?

Unfortunately, headaches are a normal part of pregnancy; however you should be able to experience some relief. Contact your health care provider:

  • Before taking any medications
  • If you do not experience any relief from the remedies above
  • Your headaches get worse or more persistent
  • You experience headaches that are different than normal
  • Your headaches are accompanied by: blurry vision, sudden weight gain, pain in the upper right abdomen, and swelling in the hands and face
Last Updated: 09/2008

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Williams Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 55.

National Headache Foundation, http://www.headaches.org

Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Part 3.

American Pregnancy Association, http://www.americanpregnancy.org

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