Head Pain and Headaches During Pregnancy

October 20, 2011

Headache and Head Pain are a frequent complaint during pregnancy. Hormonal changes, stress, fatigue, and your changing body can cause a great deal of discomfort and headaches in pregnant women. During pregnancy be careful about your headache medicine. Aspirin and Ibuprofen (Motrin) are generally considered NOT SAFE during pregnancy. Acetaminophen is considered safe.

Causes of Headaches During Pregnancy

  • Hormones- hormonal changes during pregnancy can trigger headaches and migraines.
  • Lower blood pressure in first trimester- During the first trimester you blood pressure may be diminished, causing headaches due to decreased blood flow.
  • Preeclampsia- Preeclampsia a complication of pregnancy that occurs after the 20th week, but more frequently in the last month. It can cause swelling, visual disturbances, high blood pressure, severe headaches, and protein in the urine. If it is late in your pregnancy and you are experiencing more than one of these symptoms contact your doctor.
  • Stress- physical and emotional upheaval and stress can cause tension headaches.
  • Sinusitis- sinus pain, colds, and allergies can cause headaches during pregnancy. Frequently, allergy sufferers report that their allergies intensify during pregnancy.
  • Fatigue- experienced often during pregnancy can cause a headache to develop.
  • Anemia- iron is important during pregnancy. Symptoms of anemia (low iron) include feeling tired, having headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and indigestion.
  • Migraine- Migraine different than a headache, a migraine is more severe. It causes debilitating, throbbing headaches and can cause nausea, vision changes such as blurring and flashing lights, sensitivity to light and noise and intense pain.
  • Caffeine withdrawal- If you have eliminated or cut down your caffeine intake since discovering you are pregnant, this can result in withdrawal headaches for several days.
  • Blood Sugar changes- pregnancy can cause changes to your blood sugar and metabolism. Be sure to eat right and snack every few hours and consume adequate amounts of protein.

Preventing Headaches During Pregnancy

  • Be sure to drink plenty of water. Dehydration can frequently cause headaches.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Practice stress relieving techniques.
  • If you are planning to decrease caffeine intake, do so slowly to prevent withdrawal reactions.
  • Sinus headaches can be aided by application of warm compresses on the front and sides of the face and around the nose, eyes and temples.
  • Tension headaches can be aided with cold compresses on the back of the neck and forehead.
  • Get plenty of rest to prevent fatigue.
  • Eat frequent small meals to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

When to Call Your Doctor

  • Your headaches are severe or accompanied by visual disturbances or swelling.
  • Your headaches is accompanied by fever.
  • You are having spotting or bleeding.
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