Migraines During Pregnancy

When a woman has a migraine, this usually indicates that she may be pregnant. This is because migraine commonly affects women during their childbearing years. Some women experience their first migraine during pregnancy. But for those who are prone to getting migraines, they may have stronger headaches when pregnant or they may also experience less of it. It is important to consult migraines with a physician to minimize its impact during pregnancy.

Migraine headaches normally start out dull and then eventually turn into throbbing and constant pulsating pain experienced in the temples, front or base of the head. Nausea and vomiting sometimes accompany a migraine. Some experience an aura, which may be wavy or jagged lines or dots and flashing lights. Tunnel vision or blind spots may also be experienced. According to hormonal studies, women also tend to experience migraine more often than men.

Studies have shown that headaches worsen during the first trimester and then significantly improve during the last two trimesters. Since fetal development occurs during the first trimester, non-drug treatments should be more than considered during this time. All over-the-counter medications, except pre-natal vitamins, should be stopped as soon as a woman knows she’s pregnant. Even aspirins should not be taken, unless prescribed by a physician.

Headaches usually get better during the second and third trimesters. This is more apparent among women whose migraines are correlated with their menstrual cycles. If they experience migraines around the time of their menstrual period or during the start of their use of birth control pills, then there would be a likely improvement on the last two phases of their pregnancy. Usually migraine headaches resume these pre-pregnancy patterns in the postpartum period.

There have been no evidence of increase in the incidence of birth defects in the offspring of migraine sufferers. That is why they should be considered by moms-to-be as a normal part of their pregnancy. Nevertheless, headaches are risky for pregnant women if they may be signs of something else. It is advisable to inform the physician, especially when headaches are accompanied by fever, persisting for a few hours or returning frequently, and when blurred vision is experienced.

The following are suggestions to alleviate and help prevent headaches:

Take a rest

This should be done especially during the first trimester. It can be done in any of the following ways: decreasing the work load, reducing stress, having enough nap time and engaging in some exercise or relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.

Regulate sleeping and eating patterns

This is strongly encouraged to help minimize headaches. Skipping meals often trigger headaches, that is why it should be avoided. Also, see to it that you are well-hydrated. Consume clear liquids, soups, popsicles, and a bland diet to prevent getting dehydrated.

Identify headache triggers

Keep a diary where you can log the occurrence of your headaches so that you will know what triggers them. Some common triggers that you may choose to avoid during pregnancy include caffeine, chocolate, cheese, MSG, alcohol, certain smells and strong odors, weather conditions, hormonal differences, etc.

Massage therapy and stimulus control

For non-drug approaches to improve pain, having a massage and physical therapy is an effective way to alleviate a headache. When experiencing a migraine, it is advisable to decrease stimulation. This may be done by going to a dark, quiet room to get away from a stressful setting.