Causes and Treatment for Headaches During Pregnancy
Unfortunately, headaches are one of the most prevalent pains experienced during a woman’s pregnancy. These headaches can happen at any time during pregnancy, but they often are the most common during the first and third trimesters.
What produces headaches while pregnant?
Within the first trimester, the body undergoes a surge of hormones and a jump in blood volume. These two changes can create more frequent headaches. Moreover, these headaches, aggravated by stress, poor posture, or shifts in your vision.
There are some additional causes of headaches during pregnancy may involve one or more of the following:
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Low blood sugar
- Lack of sleep
- Stress levels (due to many lifestyle changes)
Women who have routine or chronic migraine headaches may realize that they encounter fewer migraines during pregnancy; however, some women may face the equivalent number or even more migraine headaches. If you are pregnant, it is essential to speak to your doctor about any prescriptions or OTC (over-the-counter) medication that you may be taking for headaches.
Headaches within the third trimester tend to be correlated often to poor posture and stress from carrying extra weight on the body. They may also be triggered by a condition known as preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure while you are pregnant, also during the third trimester.
What are the treatment options for headaches during pregnancy?
The best way to overcome headaches is to avoid them altogether, you can avoid pressure or tension headaches by following these tips:
- Practice good posture which includes standing and sitting up straight, reducing slouching and hunching over (especially during the third trimester)
- Ensure that you are getting rest. Not only sleep, but relaxing your mind and muscles.
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Apply cold or heat packs to both sides of your head
If you are not able to stop headaches, there are still steps you can take to help them go away. During pregnancy, you should initially try to relieve your headache through natural means if possible. Pain relief medications that have aspirin and ibuprofen are not advised in most pregnancies; however, acetaminophen may be encouraged by your prenatal health provider.
You may want to try to relieve your headache with one or more of the following natural remedies:
- If you have a sinus headache, use a heated 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 consuming smaller, more frequent meals – this may also help prevent future headaches
- Get a massage – have your shoulders and neck massage is an adequate way to relieve pain
- Reduce screen (Phone, TV, Laptop, tablets) to lessen the stress on your eyes.
- Go to a dark area away from light to reduce strain on your eyes.
- Practice deep breathing
- Take a warm shower or bath
- Applying cold or heat to both sides of the head, the eyes, or along the behind the neck is one of the most reliable ways to reduce or relieve the pain associated with a headache. Heating pads and cold packs come in a variation of sizes and shapes, but most require utilizing a microwave to heat it or the freezer first to cool it. Another drawback with several of these is that the heat or cold subsides as time goes on.
You may also reduce the chances of having migraine headaches by bypassing common triggers of migraine headaches, which can include:
- Aged cheese
- Bread with fresh yeast
- Preserved meats
- Sour cream
When should you reach out to your health care provider?
Unfortunately, headaches are a normal part of pregnancy; however, you should be able to experience some relief. You should talk to 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