How Frequent Are Migraines During Pregnancy
The incidence and reoccurrence of migraine attacks in women vary widely. Some of them experience for the first time in pregnancy, while some women experience increasing migraine symptoms during the first trimester.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, around 50 to 80% of pregnant women experience reduced attacks . This reduction in symptoms is attributed to the increasing levels of estrogen during pregnancy.
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When To Call Your Doctor
Get in touch with your doctor if:
- You experience a sudden explosive headache. This sort of headache represent a violent pain which does not really go away, wakes you up if you are asleep, or isn`t similar to anything you have ever experienced.
- The headache comes with stiff neck or fever.
- You experience a headache after a head injury.
- You notice that you experience symptoms of headache after watching a computer screen or reading.
- You are in the 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy and experience a serious headache or it`s the first time when you experience a headache. It might or might not be associated with nausea, sharp abdominal pain or sudden weight gain.
- The headache becomes worse and you experience other issues, like numbness, visual disturbances, drowsiness or slurred speech.
- You experience congestion in the nose, dental pain, and facial pain or underneath your eyes.
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Pregnancy Morning Sickness Symptoms And Remedies
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but that doesnt mean all aspects are enjoyable. One of the most infamous symptoms: morning sickness. Thankfully, this pregnancy side effect typically doesnt last too long. Read on to learn more about pregnancy morning sickness, its causes, which symptoms to look out for, and remedies for easing your nausea when it hits.
When Should I Worry About Migraines During Pregnancy
While they definitely suck, most migraines are not necessarily dangerous, even while youre pregnant.
But, migraines & headaches at key points of your pregnancy can be cause for concern, as they can indicate a serious underlying condition. After your first migraine you should check in with your doctor.
Research has shown that in rare cases, migraine throughout pregnancy can be an indication that you are at heightened risk of preeclampsia, hypertension, and other vascular disorders. Your doctor will help you assess other risk factors that can provide more insight into your degree of risk for developing these conditions.
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The Headache Of Dealing With A Migraine During Pregnancy
I cant get rid of it fast enough! Caroline was 5 months pregnant and at her wits end when she contacted MotherToBaby. My migraine is so bad that I can barely get out of bed, but I feel like theres nothing I can do about it since Im pregnant. I dont want to harm the baby! We often get questions like Carolines from people planning a pregnancy or already pregnant who would like information on the prevention and treatment of migraine headaches, so I start by asking Caroline what she would have used if she werent pregnant. Caroline told me that she would have taken ibuprofen and or sumatriptan.
Migraine preventions and treatments fall into three basic categories:
What About My Migraine Prevention Medications Can I Continue These Medications
Majority of these medications will have to be stopped for months before planning for pregnancy or if you find out you are pregnant while taking them, do not take your next dose and contact your family doctor for advice.
In general, migraine headaches improve during the latter part of pregnancy, so it is possible you will not need your preventative medications during this time. There are available preventative medications that are relatively safe during pregnancy which you can discuss with your doctor.
Overall, it is better to be very cautious and try to avoid using medications for migraine treatment during pregnancy to avoid side effects for you and your unborn child.
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Other Natural Ways To Relieve Headaches In Pregnancy
Women are often more sensitive during pregnancy, and things that didnt cause an issue before can cause headaches in pregnancy.
If youre struggling with headaches in pregnancy and the above strategies dont help, you may find relief by avoiding:
- Bright lights .
- Salty foods: In one study, people who ate more sodium had one-third more headaches than those who ingested less sodium.
- High histamine foods : In one study, instances of chronic headaches subsided in 73 percent of participants when they followed a low-histamine diet.
- Common food sensitivities and allergens, like peanuts, gluten, dairy, soy and other potentially inflammatory or allergenic foods.
- Strong odors: Avoid scented laundry detergent, dryer sheets, perfume anything with an artificial scent. These fragrances are actually toxins, and some mamas are especially sensitive to them during pregnancy. Stick to natural scents like fresh lavender, a bouquet of flowers on the table, or a small amount of essential oil. But be aware that some sensitive mamas can even have issues with these natural scents!
If youre still struggling with headaches in pregnancy, you can also try:
- Applying a warm or cold compress, whichever feels better.
- Exercise .
- Chiropractic care .
- Warm shower or bath .
- Acupuncture: Find a licensed acupuncturist , or try acupressure, which you can administer yourself by exerting gentle pressure on a particular meridian point.
If Approved By Your Doctor Take A Tylenol
Assuming youve already discussed a migraine with your doctor and theyve given you the green light to use OTC pain medication in the future, you can take a small dose of Tylenol for the infrequent migraine.
This isnt a long term solution, as it only puts a bandaid on the issue. We recommend really figuring out what your triggers are, and coming up with a more holistic solution.
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How Are Migraine Headaches Managed In Pregnancy
Treatment of migraines in pregnancy may include things that soothe the pain. This includes cold packs, a darkened room, and sleep. Avoiding triggers such as certain foods and stress may also be helpful. Any medicines to treat pain, nausea, and vomiting must be carefully chosen. Here are some things to know about migraine treatment in pregnancy:
Many medicines pass through the placenta to your developing baby. You should not take these medicines in the first trimester.
Other medicines can be harmful in later pregnancy.
Generally, small amounts of acetaminophen and caffeine are safe in pregnancy.
Do not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen.
Migraine headache medicine such as sumatriptan and opioid pain medicines such as morphine should be used only as directed by your healthcare provider. Opioid pain relievers can be addictive for both you and your baby.
Talk with your pregnancy care provider about which migraine medicine can be used safely during pregnancy.
Never Be Afraid To Consult Your Doctor
If you have a very severe headache or one that comes on very quickly, it is best to consult your doctor. Its better to be safe than sorry. One phone call can give you that peace of mind.
Remember, headaches are a normal part of pregnancy, so try not to become alarmed every time you develop one.
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Do Eat Carbohydrates On Your Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan
Brace yourself: Carbohydrates are an important part of your gestational diabetes diet. They are fuel for your body and for your growing baby. The average person needs 135 grams of carbohydrates daily, but if you have gestational diabetes, that increases to 175 grams a day, says registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Meredith Nguyen, RD, who is a member of the diabetes self-management program staff at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas. Pregnancy hormones can make it hard to control morning blood sugar, says Nguyen, so you might be spreading carbs more through lunch and dinner. Eating a wide variety of foods, including whole grains, fruits , vegetables, and dairy products, will give you the carbs you need. High-fiber or low-glycemic foods will help keep your blood sugar more even and help you feel full longer as well.
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Migraine And Postpartum Depression
Because migraine is often linked with depression, women sometimes assume postpartum depression will also be linked. Robbins says that is not the case.
Although migraine is associated with depression in general, and depression can make migraine worse, women with migraine should not specifically worry about postpartum depression, he says. There is no known link between migraine and postpartum depression. Although migraine is associated with depression, and depression can make migraine worse, women with migraine should not specifically worry about postpartum depression, Robbins said. Medicines that are off limits during pregnancy are often fine to take shortly after pregnancy, so Robbins says women who are suffering from migraine or postpartum depression should seek care.
Women with migraine should definitely not be afraid of becoming pregnant, Dr. Robbins said. Theres no evidence or experience that suggests that having children is in any way harmful to women with migraine overall.
Migraine and pregnancy are distinct medical experiences, and each require specialized care. If you dont already have a headache doctor and youre considering becoming pregnant, connect with a specialist who can help you manage your migraine symptoms and treatment safely. The American Migraine Foundations searchable doctor database can make it easy to find a doctor or headache center near you.
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When Should You Call The Doctor
Before taking any medications, not all medications are safe during pregnancy.
Severe headaches starting after the sixth month can be a sign of toxemia or preeclampsia.
Your headaches get worse.
You experience headaches that are different than normal such as a migraine.
Your headaches are accompanied by: blurry vision, sudden weight gain, pain in the upper right abdomen, and swelling in the hands and face.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Migraine Headaches
About 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women have migraines. Over half of women find that their migraines occur less often in the last few months of pregnancy. However, migraines may worsen after delivery, during the postpartum period. Although migraine headaches may cause severe pain for the mother, there are no dangers for the developing fetus.
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Treatment Options During Pregnancy
Certain medications used for migraine treatment and prevention are contraindicated for pregnancy, due to safety concerns for the developing fetus. For patients who use oral contraceptives to regulate their hormone levels and manage migraine, having a conversation about migraine treatment options may happen when they want to go off of birth control and start trying to conceive. The good news is there are safe options for migraine prior to and during pregnancy.
Im always telling my patients, either preconception or patients that are pregnant, that we recommend in general to use the number of different medications for anything that were treating, Dr. Grossman says. And also, of course, the lowest dose possible that we can use in pregnancy and preconception is what we recommend. Her first-line treatment is non-medication options, and she then layers in other treatments as needed.
You Don’t Have To Suffer Through Pregnancy Headaches Ward Them Off With These Safe Solutions
If you’re like most people, you tackle a headache with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Then you charge on with your busy life. If you’re pregnant, though, the type of medication you can take is seriously restricted. It’s a cruel irony since some of the common hallmarks of pregnancysuch as fatigue, low blood sugar, and hormonal mood swingscan also trigger headaches.
In general, most headaches are considered tension headaches, and they’re usually described as a tight band of pain around the head and sometimes at the back of the neck. Emotional factorslike stressoften cause them, but there’s a wide range of physical causes too. Eyestrainfrom poor lighting or sitting too long at a computerfor example, can bring on a headache. Sinus headaches, where the pain sits behind the forehead, cheeks, or the bridge of your nose, are less common, but they happen if an infection or allergy causes an inflammation that blocks mucus from draining into the nose.
Finally, there are migraine headaches. If you’ve endured them, you know that the word headache” doesn’t quite describe the debilitating pain, which is often associated with nausea or sensitivity to light or noise. A wide range of things can trigger migraines, including weather changes, menstrual cycles, and certain foods.
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Hows A Menstrual Migraine Diagnosed What Tests Are Done
Your healthcare provider will want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:
- Describe the severity and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
- Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
- Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
- Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
- Talk about the activities, foods, stressors, or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
- Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.
- Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.
Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and imaging tests to make sure there are no other causes for your headache. An electroencephalogram may be ordered to rule out seizures.
Its helpful to both you and your healthcare provider if you keep a migraine journal. Take note of what symptoms you get, how long your symptoms last, and what makes your menstrual migraine better or worse. You and your healthcare provider may be able to use that information to help you heal, and possibly prevent or anticipate your migraine.
Should Migraine Factor Into Family Planning
Migraine disproportionately affects women, often during the period in their lives when theyre most likely to become pregnant. For many women living with migraine, uncertainty about how pregnancy may affect their migraine treatment plan is a source of anxiety. Will they have to stop taking medication? If so, how will they manage their symptomsand will those symptoms worsen or improve?
Pregnancy can impact migraine symptoms, and certain medicines are not safe for babies during pregnancy. But luckily for the 25% of women who experience migraine during their lifetime, pregnancy often has positive effects on migraine, and doctors say there are no reasons to not get pregnant if you have migraine.
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Additional Tips To Relieve Pregnancy Headaches
Here are some more tips that you can try to get relief from headaches in pregnancy
- Have small meals throughout the day and ensure that you are consuming enough proteins.
- Put Epsom salts in your bath water and take a warm bath to relax.
- Try acupuncture to relieve the stress points of your body.
- Exercise regularly but dont overdo.
- Avoid caffeine, as caffeine withdrawal can also trigger headaches.
- In the worst-case scenario, consider taking a paracetamol tablet if nothing else works.
Generally, these headaches are very much manageable at homes, but consult a doctor might be needed if:
- The pain becomes unbearable.
- If a headache is accompanied by a blurry vision or pain in the upper right abdomen and swelling in hands and face.
- A headache starts after six months of pregnancy, which might be a sign of toxaemia and preeclampsia.
A headache is something that everyone experiences from time to time. However, it can be a major source of inconvenience during pregnancy. Try the home remedies mentioned above but if the pain becomes unbearable, consult a doctor. Have a healthy and safe pregnancy!
Nasal Congestion And Irritation
Everything swells when youre pregnantincluding your nasal passageswhich can cause painful congestion and trapped allergens. These trapped allergens can irritate and inflame the tissues in your sinus area, causing sinus pressure and pain in susceptible women, which can lead to a full-blown headache or even a migraine.
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How To Treat Migraines When Naturally Doesnt Work
Sometimes, a migraine might continue to plague you, even after you have tried the above remedies. If the pain persists, you can take Tylenol however, it is important to avoid Aspirin and Ibuprofen. These are not safe to take during pregnancy. If the migraines become a constant nuisance, you may want to talk to your doctor about alternative medications that are safe to take during pregnancy. You can learn more about which medications are safe during pregnancy here.
If you currently take pain medication for migraines, it is best to discuss with your doctor whether it is safe to continue using. It is best to avoid using any herbal remedies to alleviate migraines during pregnancy, as many have not been tested, and some have been shown to lead to complications.
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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
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