Headache During Pregnancy: Causes and Remedies

Headache During Pregnancy: Causes and Remedies

Yes, headache can be one of the early symptoms of pregnancy. But how will you know if it's something more serious? Read and find out.

Headache during pregnancy – what is normal?

Pregnancy is a wonderful thing to celebrate, but few people tell you about the unpleasant symptoms that can arise along the way. Heartburn, gas, constipation, and migraines, to name a few symptoms.

Should headaches ever be a cause for concern, even if they are a common symptom of pregnancy?

Headache During Pregnancy

“Headaches are common in women both in and outside of pregnancy,” stated Kelley Saunders, MD, an OBGYN at Banner–University Medicine Women’s Institute. “But whether they are normal or not should always be discussed with your doctor.”

Though you may experience a different type of headache during pregnancy than usual, most headaches aren’t hazardous.

Headaches in the first trimester of pregnancy may occur for different causes than headaches in the second or third trimester, and frequent and severe headaches during pregnancy may be an indication of other health problems.

Is It Pregnancy Headache or Something Else

It’s not always simple to know what kind of headache you’re getting, but tension-type headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches are the most prevalent throughout pregnancy.

  • Tension Headache

The most prevalent type of headache during pregnancy is tension headaches. It can feel as if someone is squeezing your head like a watermelon. You may be more susceptible to this type of headache if you carry your stress in your shoulders and neck.

  • Migraines

Migraines are a form of headache that affects one side of the head only. Migraines might worsen during the first few months of pregnancy for some women and then improve later on. Others may not notice any change, reduction, or difference in their migraines.

pregnant woman in pain

  • Cluster headache

Cluster headaches are uncommon, although they can happen during pregnancy. You’ll experience acute discomfort around your eyes or temples at regular intervals throughout the day.

  • Sinus headache

Sinus headaches are characterised by pressure around the eyes, cheekbones, and forehead, as well as a stuffy nose. These are most usually associated with a sinus infection, but they can also be mistaken for migraines. When you lean forward or lie down, the pain can get worse in both circumstances.

  • Chronic headaches

If you have headaches on more than half of the days in a month, you may have chronic headaches. This encompasses migraines and other types of headaches; “chronic” just refers to how often they occur.

Headaches are frequent throughout pregnancy. Tension headaches are common throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. This could be due to the numerous changes you’ve experienced in a short amount of time.

Headaches can occur in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy for a variety of causes. Headaches in your mid-to late-pregnancy might have dangerous consequences.

Headache Symptoms That Are Common During Pregnancy

The intensity of the headache during pregnancy varies from person to person. You could have:

  • persistent pain
  • pain that throbs or pulses
  • extreme discomfort on one or both sides
  • a burning sensation behind one or both eyes

Migraine symptoms can include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • seeing light lines or flashes
  • potential blind spots

Causes of Headache During Pregnancy 

pregnant woman with headache

Image source: iStock

First trimester

In the first trimester of pregnancy, tension headaches are frequent. This could be because your body is going through a lot of changes right now. These alterations could cause headaches:

During the first trimester of pregnancy, common reasons for headache pain include:

  • dehydration
  • vomiting and nausea
  • stress
  • insufficient sleep
  • caffeine deprivation
  • malnutrition
  • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • insufficient physical activity
  • light sensitivity
  • alterations in vision

Headache during pregnancy can also be caused by certain foods. Some foods are known to trigger headaches in some people:

Second and Third Trimesters

Headaches in the second and third trimesters can be caused by a variety of factors. Among them are:

  • weight gain
  • posture
  • insufficient sleep
  • diet
  • muscular tension and strain
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • diabetes

Blood Pressure and Headache During Pregnancy

Headaches in the second or third trimester of pregnancy could be an indication of elevated blood pressure. In the United States, around 6 to 8 per cent of pregnant women aged 20 to 44 have high blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this treatable problem can result in catastrophic complications for both mother and infant. After week 20, this is the most typical symptom.

High blood pressure during pregnancy can increase the risk of:

If the baby’s oxygen supply is inadequate, it could lead to:

pregnant woman checking her blood pressure

Image Source: Shutterstock

Remedies for Headache During Pregnancy

A throbbing head and a bad migraine can be one of the reasons why some women do not get enough physical activity or get enough sleep while pregnant. But even though occasional headaches are part of the usual pregnancy symptoms, there are a lot of home remedies and treatments that you can try to relieve the pain of headache during pregnancy.

  • Get enough sleep.

Sleep is especially difficult later in pregnancy, yet it is critical for your physical and mental well-being. Find a comfortable pregnant pillow and curl up.

  • Make sure you drink enough water.

Pregnant women need more water than other people. While you may wish to avoid extra trips to the restroom, you and your baby both benefit from adequate fluid consumption.

  • Eat balanced, regular meals.

Eat modest meals throughout the day to avoid low blood sugar. Sugary drinks and candy should be avoided.

  • Consider getting a prenatal massage.

A full-body massage can help you relax your neck, shoulders, and back muscles. You can have it done by a professional, or have your partner massage your head, neck, and shoulders with warm compresses.

  • Avoid triggering situations.

Keep a journal to track specific triggers and learn how to avoid them. Strong smells and nitrites or nitrates are two prominent headache triggers.

  • Try relaxation and exercise strategies.

Regular exercise has been shown to lower stress and improve overall happiness. Before beginning any new workout programs, consult your doctor.

Headache During Pregnancy: Causes and Remedies

Image from iStock

  • Reduce your caffeine intake

Limit your caffeine intake to fewer than 200 mg per day (as approved by your doctor).

Your doctor may manage migraines differently during pregnancy if you have a history of them. Consult your doctor about which medications are safe to take while pregnant.

  • Pregnancy-safe medication for headache

Before taking your regular headache pain medication while pregnant, consult your doctor. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin etc.).

These pain relievers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, might be dangerous to your developing baby, especially if taken during the first trimester. During pregnancy, many women may use acetaminophen (Tylenol). However, some research suggests that using acetaminophen may have side effects.

Pregnancy Headache: When to See Your Doctor

If you get headaches during your pregnancy, do not hesitate to bring them up with your health practitioner on your next check-up. If you have a personal or family history of migraines, high blood pressure, seizures, or diabetes, inform your doctor right away.

Seek medical help at once if you have:

  • fever
  • vomiting and nausea
  • a hazy vision
  • excruciating discomfort
  • a headache that lasts for several hours
  • recurring headaches
  • fainting
  • seizure

Follow your doctor’s instructions for all drugs and treatments. Follow all diet and exercise recommendations to the letter. All follow-ups and regular check-ups should be scheduled with your doctor. With proper care, most causes of headaches during pregnancy can be treated or avoided.

Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.

Got a parenting concern? Read articles or ask away and get instant answers on our app. Download theAsianparent Community on iOS or Android now!