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Headache While Pregnant

Headache While Pregnant

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Since you’re here, it’s probably safe to say you’re one of the unlucky mama’s that get to deal with those nagging pregnancy headaches. Rest assured you’re not alone – in fact studies have shown that roughly 39% of pregnant women suffer from headaches right along with you.

In this article:



What Can Cause Headaches During Pregnancy?

Since your headaches are probably bad enough without stressing about your health, let me go ahead and tell you – they’re usually completely normal (tension headaches)! And although they’re most common in the first and third trimesters, they have been known to last throughout pregnancy. (Great, right?)


But what is it about pregnancy that causes them?


You can probably thank your hormones for those lovely pregnancy headaches you’re experiencing, since a fluctuation in hormones is normally the culprit -- along with an increase in blood volume.


Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to pin down the cause of your headaches! There are other causes that don’t necessarily have anything to do with pregnancy. That means there could be more than one reason you’re having them so frequently.


And here are yet even more potential causes:

  • Stress – I know, this one’s a little hard to overcome, especially during pregnancy. But it’s important to try and get a handle on it no matter how impossible it may seem now.
  • Bad eyesight goes hand in hand with headaches. If you find yourself squinting a lot, it might be time to have your eyes checked out. You never know, glasses or contacts could drastically improve your headache situation.
  • Poor posture, believe it or not, is a common cause of headache (and when you’re pregnant, good posture is especially important – and hard to come by!) If you sit a lot during the day, make sure you’re sitting properly. To avoid using incorrect posture, try sitting on an exercise ball – then you have no choice but to sit properly.
  • The way you wear your hair – Yes, I said it! Trust me, if you have long hair, that could very well be the cause of your headaches. In fact, that paired with all the changes occurring in your body could make for some pretty painful ones. Try leaving your hair down often – wearing it up puts more pressure on your scalp which brings on tension headaches.

 pregnant girl squinting

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse… each trimester brings its own possible causes of headache.


That means, the reason you’re having/had headaches in your first trimester may not be the same reason you have headaches in your 2nd and 3rd trimester. Confusing, right?


In the second and third trimester, headaches may be caused by extra weight, poor posture, sleep deprivation, high blood pressure, and diabetes. (Most of which can be ruled out with simple testing.)


How Can I Get Rid Of A Headache While Pregnant?

When you feel your head begin to pound, your first instinct is to reach for the Ibuprofen! I know, it’s a hard habit to break.


The bad news is, most OTC pain meds aren’t considered safe during pregnancy. In fact, Acetaminophen is about the only thing you can take and sometimes that doesn’t even work.


Lucky for us, there are plenty of safe ways to say goodbye to your headaches. Aside from OTC pain meds, there are also natural options for you.


Here are a few methods you can try:

  • Massage- There’s nothing a good ole massage can’t cure – really, treating yourself to a relaxing massage is completely justifiable. Massages relieve stress and tension so they’re great for those stubborn headaches.
  • Rest- I know you’re laughing at this one! (I even had to giggle a little) I understand, some of us don’t have the option to “rest” – especially when we have other kids to take care of. If you find it super difficult to get extra rest, make sure you’re at least going to bed at a decent time at night. It’s easy to get swept up in the motions of life and not realize you are depriving your mind and body of sleep.
  • Exercise- Surprisingly, exercise works well for tension headaches. A little Yoga and deep breathing exercises and your headache will be gone in no time.
  • Essential oils- This is one of the quickest ways to relief. If you own any essential oils at all then you must have peppermint. If not, you can usually pick it up at your local department store. Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Chamomile are all effective at relieving headaches. You can either diffuse them or – even simpler, inhale the aroma straight from the bottle to feel almost immediate relief!
  • Drinking more water- You may not realize it now but it’s extremely easy to get dehydrated when you’re pregnant, and dehydration causes headaches along with other (more serious) problems. Make sure you’re getting enough water daily to keep you healthy and hydrated!


Is It Normal To Get Headaches Everyday While Pregnant?

Having headaches seems normal enough -- but headaches every day? There’s got to be something wrong there – Right?


Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but to be honest, having a headache every day for a while is far from out of the ordinary when you’re pregnant!


But on the bright side, most women experience headaches most frequently in the first and third trimester so maybe you’ll get some relief during that second trimester! (Here’s to hoping!!)


On the other hand, if your headaches are accompanied by fever, fainting, seizures, or blurred vision – or you are getting absolutely no relief, it’s time to see your doctor!


Migraines During Pregnancy When To Worry

For most of us, the risk of migraine decreases with pregnancy (especially if you suffered from them before you got pregnant)


But if you are part of the unlucky few, you may just get your very first migraine during pregnancy.


Since migraines are most common in the first trimester, hopefully your suffering is almost over!


To be on the safe side; keep track of your migraines, the symptoms they cause, how long they last, and the severity of each one. And as a further step, don’t hesitate to discuss your migraines with your doctor during your next prenatal checkup.


During pregnancy, it’s wise to take migraines serious because high blood pressure paired with migraines can increase the risk of developing pre-eclampsia – which is a serious complication of pregnancy.


See your doctor immediately if:

  • your migraines last longer than 60 minutes and don’t resolve or improve.
  • you feel weakness on one side of your body.
  • you see changes in alertness.
  • your speech is slurred.
  • you experience swelling in your hands and feet.
  • you feel pain in your upper right abdomen.


Staying on the safe side of migraines is important whether you’re pregnant or not, but you should take extra caution when you are.


Remember taking care of you takes care of baby!


Side note: According to National Institutes of Health, simply inhaling Lavender essential oil relieves and lessens the severity of migraines specifically! Why not give it a shot?


National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, The Role of Headache in the Classification and Management of Hypertensive Disorders in Pregnancy, August 2015.

National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache: a placebo-controlled clinical trial, April 2012.

National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Blood volume changes in normal pregnancy, October 1985.

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  • Whitney McIntosh
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