Headaches during pregnancy can occur the same in pregnant women as they can at any other time, with the causes being the same as would be the case as if you were not pregnant.

These usual headache triggers can make them become more prevalent in pregnancy. The common causes of frequent headaches include hormonal factors, stress, fatigue, poor sleep, muscle tension, hunger, lightheadedness, high blood pressure, issues with posture, etc. Migraine headaches or tension headaches are usually less throughout pregnancy but on occasions, they could occur more.

But when it comes to headaches during pregnancy itself, there is the extra concern that the headache may be due to high blood pressure and in particular to a condition such as preeclampsia.

headache

Also if there is a concern about a neurological cause of headache pain, then investigating is more challenging as you are pregnant.

What can be done about Headaches During Pregnancy?

Firstly the cause of the severe headache also needs to be clarified. For this, you will need a medical consultation, be sure to take note as to what potential headache triggers you have.

To exclude preeclampsia as the cause you will need a blood pressure check, urine check (for protein) and if concerned, a blood test for preeclampsia (checking if present and if so, severity). Preeclampsia is confined to more advanced pregnancy, but high blood pressure (without preeclampsia) can be a cause at any stage. With preeclampsia, migraine headaches are usually described as an extremely severe headache.

 

A medical consultation will not only exclude serious causes of occasional headaches or migraine in pregnancy but also help to tailor management to what is appropriate with consideration of the cause of the headache.

Simple remedies for non-serious cause tension headaches or general headaches during pregnancy include rest, lying down (if your headache is due to postural hypotension), adequate fluids, minimising stress, icepack or cold compress on the back of your neck, a dark room, massage (especially if the headache is due to muscle spasm in the neck), food (if your sugar level is low) and simple analgesia. Analgesic agents such as paracetamol are safe for early pregnancy as well as throughout pregnancy.

Also, consider seeing an optometrist to check if your headache is due to eye strain.

Here are some helpful tips that can help if are struggling with heading during pregnancy:

  • Adjust your diet

  • Check if your bed is suitable now you are pregnant

  • Cut back on or eliminate coffee

  • Avoid places with fluorescent lighting

  • Windowless workspaces

  • Strong odours

  • Loud noises

Also, be sure to watch your posture. Try not to slouch, slump, or bend over doing close work for long stretches of time. For prevention meditation, relaxation or yoga classes, regular massages or maybe an osteopath, chiropractor or acupuncture can help prevent headaches.

For sinus headaches try Fess nasal spray, steam inhalation and an over-the-counter nasal decongestant. Make sure you do not have a sinus infection if so, antibiotics will be needed.

If you are a migraine sufferer I will need to check what medications you are taking, as not all are suitable in pregnancy.

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