Migraines When Pregnant

September 22, 2011

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Image of the Pregnancy Pain Relief book

Migraine headaches are completely different from normal headaches. They are much more severe and intense, generally accompanied by throbbing pain, and visual disturbances such as blurred vision and flashing lights, and often times nausea and vomiting.

Pregnancy has the potential to either intensify or alleviate the occurrence of migraines. Some women who experience migraines before pregnancy may find them to worsen during the first trimester and then improve during the second trimester.

Is it Dangerous to Have Migraines During Pregnancy?

imageMigraines are not considered dangerous for your baby, but you should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing migraines or prolonged headaches. High blood pressure and other disorders associated with pregnancy can cause similar symptoms which need treatment.

Talk to your doctor before taking any migraine medications during pregnancy. Some of them have been associated with fetal abnormalities and should be avoided.

Migraine Triggers

Sometimes it is possible to pinpoint things that trigger migraines and help avoid them, thereby reducing the number of attacks. Try keeping a headache diary documenting what you have eaten in the preceding 24 hours.

Everyone is different, but frequent triggers include the following:
  • Stress
  • Heat or Cold (weather changes)
  • Hormones
  • Fatigue
  • Flashing lights
  • Loud noises
  • Smoke
  • Changes in blood sugar
  • Chocolate and Carob
  • Cheese, especially aged cheeses
  • Coffee
  • Refined Sugar
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Nitrates (found in processed meat like hot dogs and bacon)
  • Sulfites (preservative in dried fruit and salads)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Smoked fish
  • Things that are fermented or pickled (like soy sauce or sauerkraut)
  • Fruits such as bananas, papaya, avocado and citrus
  • Certain beans
  • Nuts

Preventing Migraines

  • imageBe sure you are getting adequate magnesium in your diet.
  • Practice relaxation techniques regularly.
  • Be sure you are getting adequate rest.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Be sure you are drinking enough water.
  • Use pregnancy pain relief techniques to keep the tension in your body down.
  • Use biofeedback techniques.
  • Practice meditation.
  • Practice prenatal yoga.

Treatment for Migraines During Pregnancy

Unfortunately the best medications for migraines are generally contraindicated during pregnancy. Below are some tips to help ease the intensity:

  • Apply ice packs to your head and base of your neck. Sometimes a cold washrag will work.
  • Sleep- rest in a dark, quiet room.
  • See a massage therapist or acupuncturist.
  • Take a cold shower.
  • Massage your temples and the base of your head.
  • Try using acupressure on yourself.

When You Should Call Your Doctor

  • This is your first migraine.
  • You have had a migraine for more than a day or returns frequently.
  • You are having blurred vision.
  • Your headache is accompanied by fever.
  • You are having spotting or bleeding.

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