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Why Do You Get Migraines During Pregnancy

How Are Migraines Diagnosed


To diagnose a migraine, your healthcare provider will get a thorough medical history, not just your history of headaches but your familys, too. Also, they’ll want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:

  • Describe your headache symptoms. How severe are they?
  • Remember when you get them. During your period, for example?
  • Describe the type and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
  • Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
  • Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
  • Talk about the activities, foods, stressors or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
  • Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
  • Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.
  • Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.

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.

What Is The Prognosis For People With Migraines

Migraines are unique to each individual. Likewise, how migraines are managed is also unique. The best outcomes are usually achieved by learning and avoiding personal migraine triggers, managing symptoms, practicing preventive methods, following the advice of your healthcare provider and reporting any significant changes as soon as they occur.

What Medications Should I Avoid When Im Pregnant

Starling recommends against taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen during pregnancy. Thats because in the first trimester, these drugs are linked to an increased risk of spontaneous abortions, and in the third trimester, there are concerns about fetal kidney issues, and other issues with the fetus, she says.

A study published in 2018 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that NSAID use in women around conception was associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, especially in women with a lower body mass index .

The FDA issued a safety warning in 2020 that recommends avoiding NSAIDs in pregnancy at 20 weeks or later because they can result in low amniotic fluid and may cause rare kidney problems in unborn babies.

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Frequency Of Migraines During Pregnancy

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.

What Do Early Pregnancy Headaches Feel Like

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If youre at the beginning stages of your journey, you might be wondering what early pregnancy headaches feel like. Although you may get a typical tension headache, migraines are also common during the first weeks or months. In fact, a headache or migraine might be one of the first signs of pregnancy for some people. However, since theres many possible causes, you wont know without taking a pregnancy test.

A tension headache;creates mild to moderate pain behind the eyes and might feel like having a tight band around your head. These are the most common type of headaches.

A migraine feels like a throbbing sensation, usually on one side. They may cause nausea and vomiting in severe cases.

Managing a headache or migraine in the first trimester may be particularly difficult because theres many medications you should avoid.

Also Check: What Causes Migraines During Pregnancy

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 Are Period Migraines Exactly

Migraines are three times more common in women than men, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. That’s due, in large part, to hormonal influences, Dr. O’Neal explains. So it’s 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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Cautions About Headaches During Pregnancy

Most headaches and migraines are not cause for alarm. However, severe migraines sometimes require hospitalization so you can receive fluids, pain medication, or anti-nausea drugs.

During pregnancy, a bad headache can signal a medical emergency such as stroke or preeclampsia I had the latter when I was pregnant.

Seek care right away if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Lasting headache

When To Seek Help

How To Deal With Migraine Headaches Before, During And After Pregnancy

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

Read Also: How Common Are Visual Migraines

How Do I Get Rid Of A Migraine While Pregnant

The good news? Most women see an improvement in the number of migraines they experience as their pregnancy goes on, reports Dr. Shadbehr. But to better cope when the headaches just wont quit, she recommends these seven tips:

  • Keep a headache diary: By tracking your headaches and symptoms, its easier to notice any changes that your doctor should know about.
  • Know your migraine triggers: A headache diary can also help you recognize and avoid potential triggers. That way, if its cheese that sets you off, you wont put a slice in your afternoon sandwich. Other common triggers include processed meats, chocolate, MSG and ripe bananas.
  • Hydrate: Dr. Shadbehr recommends drinking about 8 to 10 glasses of water each day, but each persons water requirements differ.
  • Get enough sleep: Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night is ideal.
  • Try safe home remedies: Lying in a dark room or putting a cold rag over your head can provide some relief. But discuss any natural remedies with a physician before using them, cautions Dr. Shadbehr. The different substances in natural remedies could negatively affect you or your unborn child.
  • Explore cognitive behavioral therapy or biofeedback: Both can teach you ways to cope with headache pain by changing the way you think.
  • Try physical therapy: Poor posture, especially late in pregnancy, can lead to headaches. Strengthening the neck and shoulder muscles through PT can help combat this.

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.

Read Also: What’s A Vestibular Migraine

What Causes Headaches During Pregnancy

The primary culprits are pregnancy hormones, though there are many other causes of headaches during every stage of pregnancy. This type of pain can have lots of triggers, which means it can come on at any time. Some common causes:

  • Hormones:;Headaches are often an early sign of pregnancy and tend to begin during the first trimester when your hormone levels surge and blood volume increases.;
  • Trigger foods:;Certain foods like cheese, chocolate, dairy and processed meats like bacon can trigger a headache in any trimester.;Women who drink less caffeine in pregnancy may get withdrawal headaches.
  • Sinus congration:;If youre;suffering from sinus congestion, a runny nose or allergies , a headache may accompany these symptoms.
  • Dehydration:;The dehydration that often goes hand in hand with nausea and vomiting can also cause your head to throb.
  • High blood pressure:;After week 20 in pregnancy, severe headaches may be related to;high blood pressure. This may raise your risk of a number of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and premature delivery, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you notice this symptom.

Other causes can include:

  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Physical or emotional stress

On the bright side, at least for those already prone to migraines: Surging hormones during pregnancy might actually make those less-than-pleasant headaches less frequent.

Pregnancy Headaches: Second Trimester

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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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Second And Third Trimesters

In the second and third trimesters, a woman may be less likely to experience headaches due to hormonal changes, as the body has usually adjusted to these changes by this stage of pregnancy.

However, some women continue to experience tension headaches from hormonal changes throughout their pregnancy.

In the later stages of pregnancy, symptoms such as headaches are more likely to be due to:

  • excess weight
  • poor diet

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?

Also Check: Are Migraines A Symptom Of Pregnancy

Whats A Migraine What Does A Migraine Feel Like

A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that its the sixth most disabling disease in the world.

I Am Pregnant What Can I Take To Treat My Migraine

Headache during Pregnancy

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.

Read Also: What Helps With Ocular Migraines

Migraine With Aura In Pregnancy

If you experience migraine with aura you are more likely to continue to have attacks during your pregnancy. If you experience migraine for the first time while you are pregnant it is likely to be with aura.1

If you do think you are having migraine for the first time while you are pregnant it is important to visit your GP so the causes for your headache can be checked and treated if necessary.

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.

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What Migraine Medications Are Safe To Take During Pregnancy

The Food and Drug Administration sorts migraine treatments into various safety categories. The FDA classifies both prescription and non-prescription drugs into various categories based on each medications potential to cause birth defects.Please click here to read the FDAs safety guide when taking medications during pregnancy.;

As with any treatment plan, its essential that you consult with a doctor before moving forward. If you are a migraine patient and are expecting a child, make an appointment with your physician to discuss the best course of action.

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What Symptoms Must You Have To Be Diagnosed With A Migraine

Daily Headaches While Pregnant And How To Stop Them ...

Migraine with aura . This is a headache, plus:

  • Visual symptoms or vision loss.
  • Sensory symptoms .

Migraine without aura . A common migraine is a headache and:

  • The attacks included pain on one side of your head.
  • Youve had at least five attacks, each lasting between four and 72 hours.

Plus, youve experienced at least one of the following:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Lights bother you and/or you avoid light.
  • Sounds bother you and/or you avoid sounds.

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Complementary And Alternative Medicine

Non-drug treatments certainly can be helpful, and massage, acupuncture, relaxation and biofeedback have been found to be useful by some. Some women also find applications of heat or cold to the head can be useful.

Many women also prefer to take complementary and alternative medicines such as homoeopathic and herbal remedies rather than traditional medicines whilst they are pregnant, considering them to beÂ;milder.

However, some complementary treatments can have an unwanted effect on your pregnancy just as conventional medicines can. For instance, some women find aromatherapy massage very helpful, and may be unaware that some essential oils need to be avoided.

Reflexology treatment is not always advisable during pregnancy, and all complementary medicines should be taken under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Feverfew should not be used during pregnancy.

The best advice is to take as few medicines as is realistically possible for you, and at the lowest effective dose, if needed. The use of any drugs or herbal remedy to treat your migraines during pregnancy and whilst breast feeding is a balance of risk and benefits, taken with medical advice. Any medication you do take should be recorded in your pregnancy notes.

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Safe Effective Migraine Treatments For Pregnant Moms

Women are more likely than men to get migraines, and nearly one in four of us will have at least one in our lifetime.

If you’re like me and have had migraines for years, you probably already avoid certain foods and situations that can trigger migraines, such as:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Stress
  • Weather changes

Avoiding triggers can be difficult, especially since we all have stress in our lives. My main triggers are stress, artificial sweeteners, MSG, and cheese that last one is toughest for me! But it’s worth it to reduce the risk of a migraine that wipes me out all day.

If you don’t know your triggers yet, keep a migraine journal. Write down what you ate, where you were, and what you were doing when your symptoms began. After a month or so, you might see a pattern emerge.

If you avoid triggers and still get frequent migraines, you might benefit from medication.

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The First Three Months Of Pregnancy

During the first three months the symptoms of pregnancy can make your migraine worse. Morning sickness can mean that you feel like eating and drinking less which can cause low blood sugar and dehydration. If you are not careful this can make your migraines worse. You should try to eat small frequent meals and drink frequent small amounts of water to prevent this. You will also be helping reduce any pregnancy sickness.


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