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Do You Get Migraines While Pregnant

Frequency Of Migraines During Pregnancy

Is it normal to get migraine headaches during pregnancy, and what should I do about them?

Many women have migraines for the first time when theyre expecting others, including women with a history of migraines, get them more often.

Blame your out-of-whack pregnancy hormones, plus all those other pregnancy-related triggers you’re experiencing: fatigue, tension, blood sugar drops, physical or emotional stress, nasal congestion and overheating or a combination of all of these.

That said, some women who have a history of migraines related to their menstrual cycle actually end up getting these headaches less often when theyre expecting, particularly during the second and third trimesters.

Thats because their migraines are likely caused by the “withdrawal” of estrogen that occurs just before menstruation during pregnancy, estrogen levels remain consistently high.

When Will Your Headaches End

Your headaches are arising because of other factors causing them, which are typically pregnancy-related symptoms.

You dont have control over your hormones, but you can try to decrease stress and fatigue. If you can maintain these, you can help rid yourself of headaches.

The good news is that the hormone estrogen is probably the culprit for headaches. Once you reach your second trimester, your headaches should improve because your body has adjusted to the higher estrogen levels .

Once you deliver that bundle of joy, your hormone levels will begin to go back to normal, and you should see a significant decrease in your headaches.

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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When To Seek Help

Tell your doctor or midwife if you often have bad headaches. It could be a sign of a more serious problem.

Contact your midwife or GP immediately if you have:

  • generalised swelling, especially if this is sudden
  • flashing lights in your eyes or blurred vision
  • been told your blood pressure is increasing
  • a sudden severe headache
  • a headache that is worsening
  • a migraine that feels different to the migraines you usually have
  • a pain in the upper part of your tummy

Migraine Symptoms Often Improve With Pregnancy

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There is evidence that for many women, migraine can actually improve during pregnancy. A study published in the Journal of Headache Pain found several encouraging trends:

  • It was more common for pregnant women with existing migraine to stop having headaches than it was for pregnant women with no previous history of migraine to start having headaches.
  • There was a gradual decrease of headache and migraine attacks during pregnancy.
  • There was a significant decrease in the duration of headaches during pregnancy compared with prepregnancy headaches.

As many as 50 to 80 percent of pregnant women with migraine have a reduction in migraine attacks during their pregnancy, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

However, for some women, migraine can worsen during the first trimester, says Starling. A drop or big change in estrogen level can sometimes trigger a migraine attack, and there can be some drastic changes in estrogen early in pregnancy, she says. That usually levels off and improves in the second and third trimesters, she adds.

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Is It Safe To Breastfeed And Take My Migraine Treatments

If youâre breastfeeding, youâll need to avoid the medications that are known to make it into your breastmilk .

When it comes to your acute medications for treating migraines when they strike, âsumatriptan is generally considered safe,â Dr. Crystal notes, âbut eletriptan is preferred due to minimal excretion into breast milk.â

In terms of preventive medications, propranolol and amitriptyline are generally considered safe, says Dr. Crystal, though thereâs not enough data about topiramate for doctors to assess how safe it is.

To be safe, youâll want to discuss your migraine treatment with your doctor to be sure itâs safe for breastfeeding mothers. In the meantime, check out TOXNET, a database on which medications are safe to use while breastfeeding.

During pregnancy, youâre juggling a million things, and dealing with migraines can add to the stress. And, since other types of headaches could crop up during pregnancy, like tension headaches, you may need extra guidance on how to handle headaches during pregnancy.

To make it easier on you and to keep your baby safe, make a plan for treating your headaches early in your pregnancy, and always check with your doctor before taking a medication or starting a treatment.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

When Should You Worry About Headaches During Pregnancy Ob

Nausea. Fatigue. Hormonal acne. Pregnancy is a wonderful thing, but it comes with some not-so-nice symptoms that can make it a little less blissful along the way. For some women, headaches can seem to pop up out of nowhere. They’re usually just another normal symptom, but when are headaches during pregnancy something to worry about?

Heather Levin, MD, board-certified OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine specialist at Northwell Health, tells Romper in an interview that whether headaches are normal or new for you, itâs important to bring them up with your doctor. They can help determine how serious the problem is. âHeadaches during pregnancy should always be discussed with your doctor. Headaches that are mild or self-limiting are generally of less concern than severe, persistent headaches,â she explains.

âHeadaches are very common, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy. Commonly, first trimester headaches tend to be either migraines or tension headaches. The cause for this early pregnancy increase isnât always clear but is likely multifactorial, due to the rapid change in hormones of early pregnancy, nausea and dehydration, stress and poor sleep, and dietary changes, like a decrease in caffeine intake,â Peter Kim, MD, an OB-GYN at SCL Health Central Park OB-GYN tells Romper.

For women who experience migraines regularly, Kim actually finds that pregnancy seems to give them a bit of a break.

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Q: Why Do I Get Headaches/migraines Every Day With This Pregnancy Is It Normal Could It Be Something Serious

A: Headaches are very common during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester. Your hormone levels are skyrocketing and this can lead to daily headaches. Other common causes include dehydration, abruptly stopping your caffeine intake, increased stress, and poor sleep. Occasionally, pregnancy can cause the shape of the lens in your eye to change, resulting in strained vision and a subsequent headache.

If you suffer from migraines, migraines follow the Rule of Thirds in pregnancy: 1/3 of pregnant migraine sufferers say that symptoms improve, 1/3 say symptoms stay the same, and 1/3 say the symptoms worsen.

It is very uncommon for headaches during pregnancy to be serious. If, however, you have any of the following symptoms, it is important to contact your practitioner immediately:

1. Severe headache and loss of consciousness/confusion 2. Severe headache and seizure 3. Severe headache and uncontrollable vomiting 4. Severe headache after head injury 5. Severe headache that wakes you from sleep 6. Severe headache and onset of blurred vision 7. Severe headache and dizziness 8. Severe headache and sudden onset of hand/feet swelling 9. Severe headache with fever and/or neck stiffness and light sensitivity

Answered by Dr. Michele Hakakha

What Do I Do If I Have A Migraine In Pregnancy

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If youve never had a migraine call your midwife, doctor or hospital maternity unit. Serious conditions like pre-eclampsia can be like a migraine, so although its unlikely anything is wrong, your healthcare team may want to see you.

If you have always had migraines, you may find that they get better during your pregnancy. But pregnancy can also change the nature of migraines, so if you have a migraine that feels different to what youve had before, call your midwife, doctor or hospital maternity unit.

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What Are Period Migraines Exactly

Migraines are three times more common in women than men, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Thats due, in large part, to hormonal influences, Dr. ONeal explains. So its no surprise that many women have menstrual-related migraines, which simply means that menstruation is one of the triggers for their migraines. Another name for this condition: hormone headaches. Some people who get periods also have menstrual-only migraines, meaning they only get migraines around their period.

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I Am Pregnant And Getting Blind Spots With My Migraine Should I See My Doctor

It is not uncommon for a woman to have her first attack of migraine aura during pregnancy. Symptoms are typically bright visual zig-zags growing in size from a small bright spot and moving across the field of vision over 20-30 minutes before disappearing. A sensation of pins and needles moving up an arm into the mouth may accompany this. If you experience these typical symptoms and your doctor confirms that this is migraine, there is no need to be concerned and no tests are necessary. However, if the symptoms are not typical of migraine aura, it is important to exclude other disorders, such as blood clotting disorders or high blood pressure, which may occasionally produce symptoms not dissimilar from migraine.

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Migraines During Pregnancy: When Should You Worry

Migraines may actually decrease in terms of severity and frequency during pregnancy. Research revealed that 50% to 75% of women who previously experienced migraine attacks showed marked improvement in their migraine symptoms during pregnancy. It also showed that these women experienced fewer and less severe migraines during pregnancy.

Comparatively, migraine without aura can begin during pregnancy in up to 10% of women, research indicated. In about 8% of women, migraines become worse during pregnancy. Also, research revealed that roughly 25% of women who experience migraines without aura continue to experience migraine attacks throughout pregnancy.

Some research indicates that migraines are possible predictors of pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage, pre-eclampsia and low birth weight. Yet it is important to note that well-controlled studies are necessary to determine if there is an exact correlation between migraines during pregnancy and any of the aforementioned pregnancy complications.

On the other hand, pregnancy may affect the frequency and severity of a migraine attack. This is often the case in women with migraines without aura. Meanwhile, some women are prone to their first migraine attack during pregnancy or in the postpartum period. Migraine attacks sometimes increase in frequency during the first trimester of pregnancy, with fewer migraine attacks as a pregnancy progresses as well.

When To Call The Doctor About Headaches During Pregnancy

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Many women, even those who haven’t previously experienced a lot of everyday headaches, will get them during pregnancy. The vast majority of pregnancy headaches are primary meaning your head hurts, but theres nothing serious or anything to worry about.

But if your headaches persist for more than two or three hours or you have other symptoms , let your practitioner know right away.

In rare cases, so-called secondary headaches signal something else going on in your body, such as hypertension or risk factors for preeclampsia, and youll want to make sure you get both the headaches and the underlying conditions taken care of ASAP.

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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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.”

When To Call The Doctor

Most of the time, a headache is just a headache, and it will go away once you eat something or get a little rest.

A bad headache that does not go away in a few hours, gets worse, or keeps coming back could be a sign of a pregnancy complication, so you should call your doctor.

You should also notify the doctor:

  • Before taking any medication or herbal supplement to treat your headache to be sure that its safe
  • If your natural treatments are not working
  • If you have a fever, pressure around your eyes, or a stuffy nose
  • If you get a headache and you have a history of high blood pressure
  • If you get a headache after you hit 20 weeks pregnant
  • If you have pain along with other symptoms such as nausea, blurry vision, abdominal pain, or swelling in the body
  • If you have head pain after falling and hitting your head

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What Can You Take For A Migraine While Pregnant

Most migraine treatments are not recommended during pregnancy, although most pregnant people can safely take acetaminophen to treat occasional migraines. Compazine and most anti-nausea medications are generally considered safe.

Make sure to speak to your healthcare provider before taking any medication, including over-the-counter medications and herbal treatments.

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Drugs tend to exert their greatest effects on the developing baby during the first month of pregnancy, often before the woman knows she is pregnant. Hence take as few drugs as possible, in the lowest effective dose. Although many of the drugs taken by unsuspecting women rarely cause harm, there is a difference between reassuring the pregnant woman that what she has taken is unlikely to have affected the pregnancy and advising her what she should take for future attacks. Most evidence of safety is circumstantial few drugs have been tested during pregnancy and breastfeeding because of the obvious ethical limitations of such trials. Hence drugs are only recommended if the potential benefits to the woman and baby outweigh the potential risks.

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Pregnancy Headaches: Second Trimester

Most commonly, people experience headaches in the first and third trimesters. However, some still suffer from them in the second trimester. During this stage, you can ask yourself if the pain is caused by muscle strain, poor posture, stress or hunger. If it persists or becomes severe, see your doctor, who can check for high blood pressure and other causes.

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Why Do I Get Migraines During Pregnancy

So what is it about having a bun in the oven that makesyour head hurt ? Blame it on thehormones. The very things that help your body keep your unborn baby healthy andnourished also up your headache quota. So does an increase in blood volume,which happens during the first trimester.

Other factors that lead toheadaches during pregnancy include:

  • Eating certain foods .
  • Not drinking enough water.
  • Brain tumors.
  • Stroke risk.

We look at everyone closely and assess theirsymptoms, notes Dr. Shadbehr. The first question we want to answer is, Isthis a primary headache or a warning sign of an underlying condition?

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When Should You Go To The Er For A Migraine During Pregnancy

Some specific headache warning signs that warrant immediate medical attention include:

  • Experiencing the worst headache of your life, which comes on suddenly and reaches its peak within a minute
  • Blurry vision
  • Muscle strain from changes in your posture as the baby grows and you gain weight
  • High blood pressure in pregnancy

Drugs To Treat The Symptoms Of Migraine

What to do About Headaches When Youâre Pregnant

Pain killers

Most painkillers are safe to use in pregnancy. However, check with your doctor, particularly if you are getting headaches more often than a couple of days a week.

Paracetamol is the drug of choice in pregnancy, having been used extensively without apparent harm to the developing baby.9

Aspirin has been taken by many pregnant women in the first and second terms of pregnancy.9 However, it should be avoided near the expected time of delivery since, it may be associated with early closure of the fetal ductus arteriosis and can also increase bleeding.9

Codeine: Codeine is not generally recommended for the management of migraine in the UK.10 However, occasional use in doses found in combined analgesics is unlikely to cause harm.

Ibuprofen: can be taken during the first and second trimesters in doses not exceeding 600mg daily.9 However, frequent use or exposure to high doses after 30 weeks is associated with an increased risk of premature closure of the ductus arteriosus.9

Antisickness drugs Buclizine, chlorpromazine, domperidone, metoclopramide and prochlorperazine have all been used widely in pregnancy without apparent harm.

Triptans

Data regarding safety of sumatriptan during pregnancy are reassuring.11 However, continuing triptans during pregnancy is not recommended without medical supervision.

Ergots Ergotamine should not be used during pregnancy as it can increase the risk of miscarriage and perinatal death.

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Is It A Headache Or Something Else

It isnt always easy to tell what kind of headache youre having, but the most common types of headaches during pregnancy are tension-type headaches, migraines and cluster headaches.

Tension headaches are the most common kind of headache in pregnant women. It can feel like someone is trying to squish your head like a watermelon. If you carry your stress in your shoulders and neck, you may be more susceptible to this kind of headache.

Migraines are a particular type of headache that occur on one side of the head. For some women, migraines can get worse the first few months and then improve in later stages of pregnancy. For others, they may experience no change, decrease or difference in their migraines.

Cluster headaches are less common but can occur during pregnancy. Youll suddenly have severe pain around your eyes or temples usually about the same time every day.

The good news is that there are plenty of pregnancy-safe things you can do to prevent and relieve the most common pregnancy headaches.

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