Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy: What to Know!

Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can often mess up your head. We are not talking about problems like brain fog or forgetfulness. We are talking about headaches, particularly migraine attacks during pregnancy.

Migraine is a type of headache which causes intense throbbing pain, often on one side of your head. Migraine attacks can be excruciatingly painful. It affects millions of people around the world with women being more affected than men.

Around 15% to 20% of these women experience migraine attacks during pregnancy. The good news is that most headaches during pregnancy, including migraines, are not very harmful. But sometimes, they can also be dangerous if not treated on time.

Here is everything you wanted to know about a migraine headache in a pregnant woman helping you to be better prepared to handle it.

Causes of migraine headaches during pregnancy

The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Migraine can be hereditary, meaning they run in families. The fluctuation of hormone levels can also be a common trigger in women, especially the rise and fall of estrogen.

Often, pregnant women experience migraine attacks during the first trimester, when hormone levels haven’t yet stabilized. An increase in the volume of blood, which is expected in the first trimester, might be another factor for this.

Some other migraine triggers include:
  • Not getting sufficient sleep
  • Not staying hydrated
  • Experiencing too much stress
  • Consuming certain foods
  • Exposure to bright, intense light.
  • Exposure to strong odors
  • Changes in weather conditions

Signs of migraine attacks

Whether you are pregnant or not, a migraine attack has the same symptoms.

You may experience symptoms like:
  • Throbbing headache; commonly attacks one side, behind your eye, but can occur all over
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds, and certain smells

The neurological symptoms include blurred vision, light flashes, numbing or tingling sensation in your face, arms, or leg.

Home remedies for migraine attacks

The below tips can help you to avoid or treat migraine attacks:
  • You should know what triggers migraine. Always stay hydrated, get proper sleep, take an adequate diet at regular intervals, and avoid foods that bring on migraine attacks.
  • Know what eases your pain during migraine attack. Ice wrapped in a soft towel and placed on your head can ease your pain; wrapping a heat pack around your neck provides you relief from tight muscles.
  • Stay in a dark and quiet room during a migraine attack because light and sound can worsen your headache.

Medications for migraine attack during pregnancy

If you are a pregnant woman suffering from intense migraines, consult a doctor before taking medication. If you have a history of migraine and you are planning for pregnancy or if you are pregnant, then you will be advised to avoid certain medications.

Safe medications to take

According to the medical researchers, medication that is safe to use for migraine during pregnancy is Acetaminophen – or paracetamol, which is sold under many brand names. It has the least adverse effects during pregnancy.

There are many other drugs as well but best to be taken after consultation with our Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology or Neurology specialists, thereby avoiding the risk of unnecessary adverse effects.

Avoid taking medication without consulting a doctor, especially Aspirin or NSAIDS as they can affect both the mother and baby during pregnancy.

When do I need to worry?

A study in 2019 states that pregnant women with migraine problems are vulnerable to certain complications, including:
  • having high blood pressure during pregnancy leading to a disease called as preeclampsia
  • delivery of low birth weight baby
  • Increased chances of cesarean delivery

Older research shows that migraine in pregnant women has an increased risk of stroke. But some experts don’t agree with it.

Warning Signs

You can prevent severe problems if you take early and proper care. If you observe the following conditions in a pregnant woman, seek immediate medical care.
  • headache for the first time during pregnancy
  • severe headache
  • having high blood pressure along with headache
  • headache that persists for a long time
  • headache accompanied with vision problems like blurry vision, sensitivity to light or sound

However, most of the women suffering from migraine will be just fine through their pregnancies. It is best to be aware and treat your headache than stay at home and constantly be troubled by it.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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