How Do I Treat Headaches During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, you want to try and relieve your headache by natural means if possible, however your health care provider may recommend acetaminophen.
You may want to try to relieve your 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
- Practice good posture
- Get plenty of rest and relaxation
Is My Headache A Cause For Concern
Sometimes. Headaches tend to be more common in the first and third trimesters, but they can occur in the second trimester as well. While there are common causes for headaches during pregnancy, its important to note that headaches during the second and third trimester can also be due to high blood pressure, called preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related condition that requires prompt evaluation and management with an obstetrician or maternal fetal medicine specialist, Dr. Saunders said. Elevated blood pressure prior to pregnancy puts a woman at increased risk for preeclampsia.
Is It Normal To Have Headaches During Pregnancy
Headaches are common during pregnancy but they usually improve or stop in the second and third trimester. You can take paracetamol if you need to but get advice from a pharmacist, midwife or GP about how much to take and for how long .
To help prevent more headaches:
- drink plenty of fluids
- rest and relax
Although most pregnancy headaches are innocent, they can be more serious or indicate an underlying heath condition like pre-eclampsia .
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Outlook For Headache During Pregnancy
Headache pain during pregnancy is common. You may have tension headaches during your first trimester of pregnancy. This may happen because of the many changes that youre going through in a short period.
Headache pain may happen in the second and third period of your pregnancy for other reasons. Some causes of headaches in your mid to late pregnancy may be serious.
High blood pressure is a serious cause of headache pain during pregnancy. You can have high blood pressure at any time in your pregnancy. You may not have any symptoms at all. Check your blood pressure at least once a day with a home monitor.
Tell your doctor if you have headaches at any time in your pregnancy. Let your doctor know right away if you have a personal or family history of migraine, high blood pressure, seizures or diabetes.
Take all medications and treatment exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all diet and exercise advice carefully. See your doctor for all follow-up and regular check-ups. Most causes of headaches during pregnancy are treatable or preventable with the right care.
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Last medically reviewed on May 6, 2019
Headache Evaluation During Pregnancy
When evaluating your headache, your healthcare provider will perform a detailed history. She may ask you questions pertaining to any medical conditions you have, like high blood pressure or depression, or whether you are taking any medications or over-the-counter supplements, like vitamins, caffeine, or laxatives.
Your healthcare provider will also inquire as to the characteristics of your headache such as how intense it is, how long it has lasted, or whether there are associated symptoms like nausea or vomiting. This is done in order to make an accurate diagnosis, as well as to assess headache warning signs and rule out medical emergencies.
Some specific headache warning signs that warrant immediate medical attention include:
- “Worst headache of my life”
- Blurry vision
- Change in headache pain, pattern, or severity
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Is A Headache During Pregnancy Something To Worry About
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing to be celebrated, but few people fill you in on the not-so-great symptoms that may occur during the journey. Namely, heartburn, gas, constipation and, for some pregnant mamas, headaches.
While headaches can be just another normal symptom of pregnancy, should they ever be a cause for concern?
Headaches are common in women both in and outside of pregnancy, said Kelley Saunders, MD, an OBGYN with Banner University Medicine Womens Institute. But whether they are normal or not should always be discussed with your doctor.”
Here is some insight into what causes headaches during pregnancy, some remedies to treat them and why your doctor should be kept in the loop.
Weeks Pregnant Baby Growth
Your baby’s skin is present now. It is transparent but appears to be red due to the blood vessels seen beneath. It will be a while before it becomes solid and start resembling normal skin. Fine lanugo hair has appeared, covering the babys head and entire body to keep baby warm, but this will mostly disappear by the time baby is born.
Baby’s kidneys are functional and are able to pass small amounts of urine. The circulatory system is starting to function and is able to pump about 25 litres of blood each day. Your baby is starting to take on a more human-like appearance and although the head is disproportionately larger than the rest of the body, the rest is starting to catch up. The eyes are in place, and are beginning to make small movement, and can possibly see light, although the eyes themselves are still closed. The ears are in place and the baby can likely hear your voice.
Your baby may be starting to suck his or her thumb, as well as the beginnings of facial expressions like squints and frowns.
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Why Do Headaches Occur At 16 Weeks Pregnant
Pregnant women usually experience headaches in the first and third trimesters. Less often, headaches are a problem for women during their second trimester. Stable hormone levels at 16 weeks pregnant might reduce migraine headaches for some women, but many pregnant individuals still experience tension headaches at this time. Other causes of headaches at 16 weeks include caffeine withdrawal, eating certain foods, or being sensitive to smells, says the March of Dimes.
What Causes Headaches In Pregnancy
The exact cause of a headache isnt always clear. In the first trimester, changing hormone levels and blood volume may play a role. A dull, overall headache can come with stress, fatigue, and eyestrain. Sinus headaches may be more likely because of the nasal congestion and runny nose that are common in early pregnancy. Hunger and low levels of blood sugar can trigger headaches, too. Women who suddenly stop their morning coffee and sodas may experience caffeine withdrawal headaches. Those who also suffer with nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy can become dehydrated. This can also bring on a headache.
Migraine headaches are a common type of headache in pregnancy. These painful, throbbing headaches are usually felt on one side of the head and result from expansion of the blood vessels in the brain. The misery is sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. A small percentage of women with migraines also have an aura with the migraine. They see flashes of light or feel tingling in their arms and legs.
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Reversible Cerebral Vascular Syndrome
Reversible cerebral vascular syndrome, also known as Call-Fleming syndrome, is another headache syndrome that can be triggered by pregnancy and may also occur in the postpartum period. People with this headache syndrome usually describe a thunderclap headache, which is a severe, sudden, and explosive onset of head pain.
The cause of this syndrome is unknown, but the origin of the pain is believed to be related to spasm of the arteries in the brain. Treatment is with calcium channel blockers, which is a blood pressure medication that helps to dilate or open the brain arteries.
Keep in mind that if a woman goes to the emergency room with a thunderclap headache, an exhaustive approach to rule out a subarachnoid hemorrhage is imperative before assuming the woman to have a reversible cerebral vascular syndrome.
When Should I Call A Doctor Or Midwife About A Headache In Pregnancy
Call your midwife, doctor or hospital maternity unit if you have a very bad headache or a headache that wont go away. This could be a symptom of pregnancy induced hypertension. This is a type of high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks and goes away within 6 weeks of the baby’s birth. Its also known as gestational high blood pressure or gestational hypertension.
Call your midwife, doctor or hospital straight away if you have a headache and vision problems and sudden swelling on your hands, feet, face or stomach. This could be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy condition that can be dangerous for you and the baby if it is not monitored and treated.
- discomfort in the lowest part of your stomach
- needing to wee a lot or an uncontrollable need to wee
- cloudy, foul-smelling or bloody wee
- a raised temperature
- feeling sick and vomiting.
This could be a sign of a urinary tract infection. UTIs cab be treated with antibiotics that are safe to use in pregnancy.
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When To Call Your Healthcare Provider
Monique Rainford, MD, is board-certified in obstetrics-gynecology, and currently serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale Medicine. She is the former chief of obstetrics-gynecology at Yale Health.
Headaches are common during pregnancy. While they’re painful, they’re usually nothing to worry about. However, headaches in pregnancy can sometimes be a warning sign of a more serious problem like preeclampsiaa condition that involves high blood pressure.
Here’s what you need to know about the different types of headaches during pregnancy, how to recognize them, and what to do if you think your headache may be a sign of a dangerous complication.
Verywell / Laura Porter
Headaches are classified by what causes them and fall into two categories:
- Primary headaches, where the pain itself is the only problem
- Secondary headaches, where the pain is caused by another medical condition
About 40% of pregnant women report having headaches during pregnancy or postpartum . Most are primary headaches and are less worrisome.
However, research suggests that secondary causes of headaches may be more common among pregnant women than was previously thought. One study found that between 25% and 42% of pregnant women seeking treatment had a secondary headache.
During the second and third trimesters, triggers include poor posture, lack of sleep, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Intense Headaches At 16 Weeks 8
SpwJd · 22/04/2017 20:13
Anyone else getting severe headaches when pregnant? I’m really suffering this week. Can’t shift it. It’s literally there all the time. Feels like pressure at the back of my head. Paracetamol is just taking the edge off but it gets so bad at times I can’t sleep. Any advice on how to help get rid ? Anyone in the same boat?
Sunshinegirl82 · 22/04/2017 20:32
I had horrendous headaches in earlyish pregnancy, they went on for days at a time. I took paracetamol and used that 4head stuff which helped a bit. I also draped a warm wheat bag around the back of my neck which was soothing. I took to bed a lot too!The midwife told me they were probably hormonal and they did calm down at about 20 weeks do fingers crossed yours do too. It is horrible though, you have my sympathy!
krakentoast · 22/04/2017 20:33
Oh yes, I am exactly 16 weeks and for the last week I’ve been getting horrendous headaches. I used to get headaches around the time of my period most months but never as bad as this – last week I had one that lasted a full 24 hours and stopped me sleeping.I was a bit worried it might have something to do with my blood pressure as at my last midwife appointment it was a bit high.I can’t offer any advice but wanted to say you’re not alone and fingers crossed someone shows up with some advice!
WantingBaby1 · 22/04/2017 21:42
SpwJd · 22/04/2017 21:48
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What Can I Do About Headaches
Steps to manage headaches include the following:
Avoid any known headache triggers, including allergens and certain foods, like monosodium glutamate, cured meats, and strong cheeses.
Smoking is never a good idea in pregnancy. You should also avoid secondhand smoke.
Try to eat well and drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are prone to morning sickness.
Reduce your stress level. Try a massage or cold pack to help with tension headaches.
If your headache is a migraine, rest in a cool, dark room with no noise, and try using warm or cold compresses or an ice pack.
There is good news, however. Most women have fewer headaches during pregnancy, especially after the first trimester. And those with a history of migraines often find there is improvement during pregnancy.
When Should I Call My Doctor
Whether you experience headaches or not, its always important to discuss your pre-pregnancy history, obstetrical history and concerns with your doctor for an individualized assessment and management plan. However, if none of the above treatments resolve your mild headache or your headaches become more frequent and severe, talk to your doctor to determine the cause.
This includes new headaches that present after 20 weeks, a sudden onset of severe headaches, headaches associated with a fever, mental health changes, elevated blood pressure and vision changes, Dr. Saunders said. Its important to keep an open line of communication with your physician and let them know about any changes in your health so they can rule out anything serious.”
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What Are The Different Types Of Headaches
The headaches youre suffering from while pregnant are just like the ones you can get at any other time, so its worth learning about some of the most common types. Heres a short primer to help you figure out what kind of headache you might have:
- Tension headaches: If youre under stress, hungry or feel pain in your neck or shoulders, you could have a tension headache, which feels like a mild to moderate dull ache. Its one of the most common types.
- Migraines: With a migraine headache, you can expect moderate to severe pain that throbs and lasts for hours or even days. Some women with migraines also experience blurred vision, light flashes, numbness and nausea.
- Sinus headaches: Pressure around your eyes, cheeks and forehead plus a stuffy nose may signal a sinus headache. These typically occur with a sinus infection, but theyre also commonly confused with migraines. In both cases, the pain can get worse when you bend forward or lie down.
- Cluster headaches: These head pains are what they sound like headaches upon headaches that start quickly and get worse, lasting for days or longer. The searing pain usually centers on one eye or affects one side of the head. The good news: Cluster headaches are rare, especially in women compared to men.
- Chronic headaches: If youre getting headaches on more than half of the days in any given month, they could be considered chronic. This includes migraines and other headache types chronic just refers to how frequently they happen.
Is It Normal To Have Bleeding Or Spotting In Pregnancy
First, dont panic. Vaginal bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy is common and doesnt always indicate to problem .
Early pregnancy bleeding can be down to spotting, cervical changes, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy . In later pregnancy, vaginal bleeding may be due to cervical changes, vaginal infections, a show, placental abruption or a low-lying placenta .
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Babys Growth In The Second Trimester
During your second trimester, your baby grows up to 3 pounds in weight and up to 16 inches in length. Their brain and other organs grow and develop a great deal. Their heart moves 100 pints of blood a day. Their lungs are fully formed but not quite ready to breathe. And your baby can kick, move, turn around in your womb, swallow, suck, and hear your voice.
Your babyâs eyes and ears move into the correct positions on its head. Their eyelids can open and shut. The baby sleeps and wakes up in a normal cycle. They grow eyelashes and eyebrows.
Your baby grows fingernails and toenails. The tiny fingers and toes separate. They develop distinct fingerprints and toe prints.
Hair grows on your babyâs head. They also sprout downy, fine hair all over called the lanugo. Their body is encased in a creamy, white, protective coating called the vernix caseosa, which is eventually absorbed into their skin.
Your babyâs placenta is also fully developed by this time. The placenta is an organ that gives your fetus oxygen and nutrients. It also removes waste. In the second trimester, your fetus also begins to build up fat on its body.
Lots Of Watery Discharge
Biggest concern between 24 to 36 weeks of pregnancy
If you’re near the end of your pregnancy, a watery discharge might mean that your water has broken. It could also be normal vaginal discharge, which can increase in volume during pregnancy. Or you may have leaked a bit of peeâsomething that is quite common as you get closer to your due date.
But if you experience a sudden gush of fluids anytime before 37 weeks, call your doctor pronto. It might be a sign that your amniotic sac has ruptured and you’re going into preterm labor. But don’t assume the worse as you head to the hospital: “Women immediately think that their water has broken too early when in reality the baby may have just kicked them hard in the bladder and they lost some urine,” says Dr. Flamm.
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