If you sometimes suffer headache discomfort while pregnant, there is usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if your headaches happen often and hurt badly, it can be a sign of something more terrible. Knowing when to see your doctor about your migraine symptoms is crucial for ruling out conditions including hypertension, cerebral venous thrombosis, and preeclampsia.
Do Pregnant Women Often Get Migraines?Some women worry about how becoming pregnant will impact them since they already get regular migraines. Surprisingly, pregnancy may actually make headaches go away for many women in this circumstance! Pregnancy reduces migraine frequency for 50% to 80%. This is fantastic news that highlights how hormones, notably estrogen, might reduce pregnancy headaches.
Therefore, if you currently often get migraine attacks, you could discover that you don't experience any during pregnancy! You could even be one of those exceptional women (or unicorns) who feels their best throughout pregnancy.
Unfortunately, not many women have this kind of blissful pregnancy. In between 15% and 20% of pregnant women, the frequency of their migraines increases. If you're one of these "lucky" women, your first and third trimesters will certainly see an increase in pregnancy headaches. They could also become worse after giving birth, or in the postpartum period.
What Defines Pregnancy Headaches?Headaches during pregnancy might result from a number of different factors. There are major and secondary types. Any form of head pain that is solely brought on by the head pain itself is considered a primary headache. Migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches (often treated with triptans) are examples of primary headaches.
Always other disorders (such as sinus congestion, elevated blood pressure, etc.) are to blame for secondary headaches. Changes in blood volume and hormone levels during early pregnancy might cause sinus headaches or severe thunderclap headaches.
As your body adjusts to life without caffeine (yes, this is a real thing!), you can also suffer headaches from caffeine withdrawal during the first trimester. If you want to become pregnant, it's a good idea to gradually wean yourself off coffee if you want to prevent this specific migraine trigger. Of course, if your little one ends up being an unanticipated (but still wonderful) surprise, this phase won't be doable.
Other possible reasons for migraines during pregnancy include:
- sleep deprivation
- excessive stress
- unsound nutrition
- No or little physical activity
- alterations in eyesight brought on by hormones, such as greater sensitivity to light
- reduced blood sugar
- elevated blood pressure
While some of the aforementioned reasons are rather modest, others are warning signs of major pregnancy issues. The good news is that the most severe causes of headaches during pregnancy are often less common. However, it's crucial to pay careful attention to any headaches you get while pregnant so you can determine whether you need to seek emergency medical help.
When should I see my doctor?
When you feel significant head pain while pregnant, you may be less inclined to call your doctor if you have a headache issue. However, certain headaches may be signs of more severe illnesses, including preeclampsia, and should never be disregarded.
Preeclampsia and other pregnancy-related problems might have the following highly dangerous symptoms.
Contact your doctor right away if you feel these, or get emergency medical help:
- distorted vision
- bad headaches
- Upper-right abdominal pain
- Breathing difficulties intolerance to bright light
- voiding merely a few drops at once
- often bruising
- Fever Seizure
Depending on how close to your due date you are, preeclampsia treatment may be necessary. Your doctor would likely advise having the baby as soon as possible if you are near enough that it is still viable. Imagine, however, that your pregnancy is not yet complete and that your preeclampsia is not now endangering your life. Then, in order to prevent your baby's weight from restricting blood flow by pushing down on your main blood arteries, your doctor may advise you to make significant dietary adjustments, drink more water, and lay on your left side.
If your condition is severe, you could be treated with blood pressure medication, bed rest, and vitamins until your baby can be delivered without risk. Avoid using salt in your meals, consume nutritious foods during pregnancy, engage in regular exercise, and drink at least eight glasses of water per day (while avoiding caffeinated drinks entirely) to prevent preeclampsia.
How may pregnant headaches be treated?If you use any migraine drugs for your headaches or are considering migraine therapies, it's very essential to have an open dialogue with your doctor. Your doctor will explain alternatives if you wish to start taking migraine medication but are not already doing so.
Your doctor could suggest a blood pressure-lowering medicine if your head discomfort is brought on by excessive blood pressure. Additionally, you can get information on how to adjust your diet and engage in exercise to maintain good blood pressure.
It's important to understand that, despite how tempting it may seem, using daily painkillers to treat your head discomfort while pregnant might really damage your unborn child. As a result, it's crucial to refrain from taking drugs throughout the first trimester. Even over-the-counter pain relievers like Motrin and Advil are highly advised against.
But what if your headaches are so severe that you are unable to cope with them any longer? Try a few of these complementary therapies:
- Drink extra water.
- Try applying ice to your forehead.
- Consider having a therapeutic massage.
- Regular exercise and stretching
- Use a heating pad to relieve discomfort (this works well for menstrual migraines, too).
- Apply diluted essential oils, such as chamomile, peppermint, and rosemary, on your forehead.
- Consume balanced, healthful meals.
- Refrain from eating things that you know make your headaches worse, such as chocolate, yogurt, alcohol, and preserved meats.
- Take a pregnancy-safe nutritional supplement