If you are experiencing headaches during your pregnancy, you may be relieved to find out this pregnancy symptom is completely normal. In fact, according to a medical study, 39% of pregnant women experience headaches. This means that although headaches in pregnancy are uncomfortable, they are completely normal. We’ll be providing more insight into what causes headaches in pregnancy, and uncover a few remedies to ease discomfort.
What Causes Headaches in Pregnancy?
Headaches in pregnancy are most common in the first and third trimester, but can also occur in the second trimester. During the first trimester, an increase in blood volume, hormonal changes, and weight changes are all culprits for headaches. Stress is also a common cause of headaches in pregnancy during the first trimester due to the number of life changes that occur. Some other common causes of headache pain in the first trimester are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of sleep
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Poor nutrition
- Low blood sugar levels
- Too little physical activity
- Sensitivity to light
- Changes in vision
Headaches in the third trimester tend to be more related to posture as a result of carrying extra weight. It’s also important to note that headaches during the second and third trimester can also be due to high blood pressure (called preeclampsia). Preeclampsia is most common after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can cause serious complications for both mom and baby. As a result, it’s important to have your blood pressure regularly monitored through prenatal care and a home monitor, especially if you have a history of high blood pressure. Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat your high blood pressure, and in so doing, make your headaches less frequent should high blood pressure be their cause.
How to Treat Headaches in Pregnancy
For some women, getting headaches in pregnancy may be unavoidable, but fortunately, there are some ways to prevent them or lessen the discomfort associated with them:
- Practice good posture (especially during the third trimester)
- Get plenty of rest and relaxation
- Apply cold or heat packs to your head and neck
It’s also a great idea to avoid certain foods (such as chocolate, yogurt, aged cheese, bread with fresh yeast, or preserved meats), as they can also cause headaches in pregnancy. You can also try natural headache remedies such as:
- Applying a warm compress around your eyes and nose for a sinus headache
- Applying a cold compress or ice pack at the base of your neck if you have a tension headache
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals to help stabilize blood sugar (which help to prevent future headaches)
- Get a pregnancy massage
- Rest in a dark room and practice deep breathing
- Take a warm shower or bath
- Use essential oils such as peppermint or lavender
You should exercise caution before taking pain relief drugs for headaches in pregnancy because certain drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) can be harmful to your baby, especially when taken during the first trimester. Acetaminophen is frequently taken during pregnancy, but you should contact your doctor before taking any medication.
Ob-Gyn in Jacksonville Beach, FL
Every woman’s pregnancy journey is unique and it’s important to try out different headache remedies to figure out what will work best for you. While headaches in pregnancy are common, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you experience them. Let your doctor know if you have a history of migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, or seizures, and take all prescribed medications as advised.
At North Florida Ob-Gyn, we believe that knowledgeable and experienced prenatal care is vital to the healthy development of your baby. We have decades of collective experience guiding patients through all of the physical and emotional changes this special time can bring, and each member of our team is qualified to oversee the care and delivery options for high-risk pregnancies and more. Contact us today to set up an appointment and learn more.