HeadacheWhy do I have a headache and what can I do to get rid or them?
Headaches are one of the most common discomforts of pregnancy. Especially in the first trimester, headaches may occur more frequently than usual. Some common causes of headaches in pregnancy include:
Types of Headaches
- Changes in hormones
- Tiredness, including lack of sleep
- Changes in blood circulation
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Dehydration (not drinking enough water)
- Stress from upcoming family changes
- Caffeine withdrawal
Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. They are often described as a squeezing pain on both sides of the head. Tension headaches are most often caused by lack of sleep, depression, or caffeine withdrawal. Changes in pregnancy hormones may also cause tension headaches. Making an effort to relax, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep will often reduce the number of headaches. If headaches occur, try treating them with extra rest, a shoulder massage, or a warm washcloth placed on face. After consulting with your doctor or midwife, Tylenol may be used to treat headaches that do not improve with other measures.
About 18% of women experience migraine headaches at some time in their lives. Migraine headaches cause a severe throbbing pain on one (or occasionally both) sides of the head. The exact cause of migraines is not known, but it is thought that they result from changes in blood flow in the brain. Migraines may occur with other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light or loud noises. Some people experience an `aura` a few minutes before a migraine attack. During the aura, the person may have problems seeing normally (such as seeing lines or flashing lights), speech problems, or a tingling sensation in their hands or face.
Migraine headaches usually occur less frequently in pregnancy, especially after the first trimester. However, some women find that their migraine headaches worsen or stay the same while they are pregnant. The best way to treat migraine headaches in pregnancy is to avoid them. Some people areable to reduce the number of migraine attacks by avoiding common triggers and getting the right amount of sleep.
If you need medication for migraine headaches while you are pregnant or nursing, discuss the use of prescription pain medication with your doctor or midwife. He or she will help you find the medication with the least risk. There is very little information about how migraine medications such as Sumitriptan (Imitrex), Ergotamine (Cafergot) or Midrin affect the developing baby. Because of this, pregnant women are usually counseled to avoid these medications.
Common Food Triggers for Migraine Headaches
- Aged Cheese
- Breads with Fresh Yeast
- Citrus Fruits
- Preserved Meats such as Bologna, Smoked Fish, Sausage, or Hot Dogs
- Sour Cream
(also called Toxemia) A severe headache in the second or third trimester of pregnancy can be a warning sign of preeclampsia, or high blood pressure in pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a condition that affects about five to ten percent of pregnancies. Headaches caused by preeclampsia are persistent and throbbing. Women with preeclampsia may also have symptoms such as blurry vision or seeing spots, sudden weight gain (more than a pound in one day), pain in the upper right abdomen, and swelling in the hands and face. If you have any of these symptoms, or if you get a headache that is different than normal, call your doctor or midwife right away.
Other Types of Headaches
Pregnant women may also experience other types of headaches such as cluster headaches
, sinus headaches, or headaches caused by other rare problems. If you are unsure about a headache, it is important to see your prenatal care provider to get an accurate diagnosis.
Comments 1 to 23 of about 23.
1429 days ago.
Im in my 21st week of pregnancy with twins. Ive had 3other children. NEVER have I had headaches this BAD!!!! They are light sensitive and can last up to 3days. I get them at least 2-3times a week and they make me throw up. My Oh so helpful dr. told me drink caffiene...didnt work. Someone said drink 2gallons of water a day...didnt work. Lately the last two weeks ive got this horrible dizzyness and throwing up. Weird. Any suggestions? JAH
1610 days ago.
Someone on this website told me during my first pregnancy to drink a big bottle of Gatorade. The electrolytes are supposed to help, I guess. Tried it and it seemed to work! noahwmommy
1631 days ago.
Kelly - you may want to talk to your doctor about getting a migraine pill. I had a migraine for 3 days straight, it made my blood pressure rise and i started to swell because it was my bodies way of trying to fight it. My doctor finally put me on Fiorinal (sp?) and i've only had to take it 2 times since she gave me the initial prescription. My doctor told me that the risks of taking the medication out weight the risks of not taking any. Hope this helps! kellyparker
1631 days ago.
I get headaches/ migraines every night like clockwork. Nothing ever works. I'm not sure what else to do, hopefully they will end soon. I'm 22 weeks. hurrymarch2011
1766 days ago.
Same here lizzie78 I suffer from Crazy migraines I ended up in the er twice this preg and Im only 15 weeks. Mine will last for days and it sucks tylenol doent help at all Nore the pills the doc gave me. Sometimes I lay in a dark room with the fan on and an ice pack on my neck, or my face mask it helps sometimes. Drink plenty of water too I hope you feel better! Lizzie78
1766 days ago.
I too suffer from migranines. Starts off as a sinus like headache and goes full blow, i seem to be developing one now, and stress cause i know what i take to get rid of them i cant take now. Strangely enough i took nighttime cold and sinus lol and it always worked, see if i can eat some soup and sleep it off, and avoid stress... lore8729
1773 days ago.
IAM HAVING A BAD HEADACHE SINCE YEASTURDAY I WOKE UP AND STILL HAD IT I HAD TO TAKE TYLENOL BUT IT DID NOT GO AWAY ANY ONE KNOW WHAT I COULD DO I DONT WANT TO HARM MY BBY? littleboo
2056 days ago.
Does anyone know of any natural remedy for pregnancy headaches? I have never had a headache that I can't sleep off. I don't want to take tylenol, etc.
I am 6 weeks pregnant.
2091 days ago.
I've been having these chronic migraine headaches, i don't want to take too much panadol or medicines to get rid of it because I have heard it can harm the baby. Is there any other ways I can ease the pain without resorting to medicine? anetandjosh
2100 days ago.
i have huge headaches i used to have migrains before being pregnant ..yesterday i sliped down the stairs and thats when i started to get huge headaches i didnt fall hard dualjoy
2106 days ago.
Tension Headaches - For anyone suffering from headaches that start at the back of your neck and extend to the top of your head & behind your eye(s) - I was suffering for 2 months - I've been to a neurologist, for a massage & everything. My doctor said it was a tension headache & I just had to suffer through it. I took it upon myself to go to a physiotherapist & she has already rid me of headaches in 3 treatments. Apparently there are muscles at the base of your skull that can trigger headaches. When we're pregnant & our ligaments start to loosen up, muscles can over compensate. She has released the pressure & my headaches are gone. So don't suffer - see a qualified physiotherapist - they might be able to help you, too. lucky4me
2111 days ago.
I am 13 wks pregnant and have been suffering from severe headaches. I had to go to the ER last week and they put me on vicodin for the pain but I really don't want to spend the next 6 mo on pain meds... Anyone have any advice or tricks of the trade to pass on... Things to mention to the Dr maybe? Anything couldn't hurt at this point.... Much needed advice! lee31
2112 days ago.
Oh thank god its normal i have tension headaches maybe from caffeine withdrawl , not taking anything yet trying to be good lol but i am on the edge lol NonhlanhlaM
2120 days ago.
Afikpo Chic > Oh i have a very bad headach, but they say it's normal, i'm taking Painblok for it and they work wonders! It's good that it has reduced! wishingpink
2147 days ago.
O agree. I think it is okay but be safe and ask adoc luvababe
2177 days ago.
yes it is ok...ive taken tyleno my whole pgncy..so its ok...but 2 be safe talk 2 ur family doc... fiskaval
2182 days ago.
i have had headaches most my life...... had to go off all the meds because of being pregnant.... but have had some headaches.. was told Tylenol was ok... RIGHT... stephncorey
2192 days ago.
Hello Ladies- This is my first pregnancy and Im 16 weeks three days along. I was wondering if anyone else out there was suffering from constant headaches? Ive seemed to have a mild headache for two weeks now- the pain is a dull throbbing but it just wont quit which is starting to make me nuts. All I want to do is sleep which isnt really working out since I have a life to live. Ive tried Tylenol, and drinking more water and it just doesnt cut it. I also went to the doctor yesterday and b.p is great- so Im just FRUSTERATED!! Any advice? Anyone else going through this? It's making daily activities horrible and my motivation has gone down the tubes!
2304 days ago.
i have a friggen headache...and his name is jamie...its 7 am and iv been u since 5 to a pest of a boyfriend who likes to dig his knees into me when hes sleeping, gets up early for a friggen smoke and comes to bed stinking like a ashtray and turns the bloody tv on loud...not to mention the stupid animal living in our stupid wall that wont shut the hell up, i feel like punching a hole in the wall and grabbing wthaver it is by the neck and burrying it in the 30-40 centimeters of snow that has accumulated over the last couple days....now that i have kicked the bf outta the bedroom..im going to go and try to sleep....ill let you know if i pucnhed the hole in the wall....
Pregnant and cranky thecoyz
2318 days ago.
I have suffered from migraines since I was 16. The seem to go away when I get preggo. But, this pregnancy they are still coming atleast once or twice a week. I was prescribed Tylenol 3 and fioricet. It seems to be working so far. The doctors would rather me take those then have to take Zomig...which is what I take when I am not pregnant. MARKEISHA
2389 days ago.
THE HEADACHES ARE TORCHURE UUGGHH I MEAN THEY BRING TEARS TO MY EYES LITERALLY . THEY RANGE FROM TENSION TO MIGRAINE HEADACHES . I EVEN SEE THE BLACK SPOTS OR MY VISION GETS BLURRED . IF ITS 1 THING I CAN'T TAKE ITS A DAMN HEADACHE . I TAKE TYLENOL ALL DAY LITERALLY I MEAN I BUY 3 OR 4 PKS A DAY .LASTNITE MY HEAD WAS HURTING SO BAD IT MADE MY BACK TEETH HURT. belly629
2435 days ago.
OMG!! These headaches are absolutely horrible! Its been days for me and if I have a long day I get one automatically! UGH! Help! I have already taken Tylenol 4 times since I have been pregnant and they have been so bad that I had to! I haven't wanted to do anything wrong I haven't even had a cup of tea or coffee! Taking the Tylenol is torture for me but a last resort! I don't like to take antything when I'm not pregnant... What should I do?? joannapianna
2457 days ago.
I have never suffered from migraines until this pregnancy.
I got my first headache around 20 wks, my arms where numb, my vision distorted and physically sick, i even developed a rash on my legs and arms! My body being so sensitive had a very adverse reaction to the migraine. I began to notice a pattern, so every 6 wks i would get another, luckily the symptoms became less each time, just a headache, my midwife told me it was ok to take 2 paracetamol when it came on. Yesterday i was 32 wks, luckily today was my day off work, but i spent most of that day in bed with a migraine, my vision was distorted to begin with, but with lots of bedrest it wore off. Other than that, my BP, Iron levels etc...have all been great, i havent gained to much weight, an overall good pregnancy, minus the migraines! I hope todays one was the last of them.