Headaches and Pregnancy - Help With Understanding Them
It is very common for women to complain of headache during pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters. What is the relationship between headaches and pregnancy? Should you be concerned? Read on for important information about this condition.
In the first trimester, there is a surge of hormones in your body, along with an increase in blood volume. This alone can cause headaches, which may be further aggravated by poor posture, stress, or vision changes.
In the third trimester, headaches usually are related to posture issues and overall tension or fatigue from the carrying of extra weight. In some cases, a serious condition called preeclampsia (high blood pressure) can also cause headaches.
Other common causes for headaches during pregnancy are low blood sugar and dehydration, as women adjust to their new dietary needs. Also common is caffeine withdrawal, since many women cut back or eliminate their caffeine consumption. Lack of sleep and general stress are also common culprits.
If you are a migraine sufferer, you may find that you experience fewer migraines during your pregnancy. However, some women find that their migraine headaches stay constant – or even increase. No matter what your situation is, be sure to talk to your doctor about any headache medications you may be taking.
One of the best things you can do reduce the number of headaches you experience is to get plenty of rest and eat nutritious, well-balanced meals. Your body is working for two, and you have to give it the fuel and downtime it needs. It is also important to do some amount of exercise (whatever you and your doctor feel comfortable with), as well as practice good posture.
Also, if you are a migraine sufferer, you’ll want to avoid common “trigger” foods. These include yogurt and aged cheese, peanuts and preserved meats, chocolate, sour cream, and breads made with fresh yeast. And while you are likely already avoiding alcohol, keep in mind that it is also linked with migraine headache.
When, despite precautions, you do get a headache, you’ll probably want to achieve relief without using medications. Aspirin and ibuprofen are not indicated for most pregnancies, though acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be greenlighted by your doctor.
Natural remedies you can try include the application of a warm compress over the eyes, forehead, and nose (for sinus headaches), or a cold compress to back of the neck (to help with tension headaches). You may want to take a warm shower or bath, or get a neck and shoulder massage. Meditation and/or relaxing in a darkened room may also provide some relief.
It is important to contact your doctor if you do not achieve any relief from the methods described above. Furthermore, do not take any OTC pain relievers unless you have been given the go-ahead.
You will also want to make an appointment if your headaches worsen or grow more persistent, or are “different” than normal – intensity, location of the pain, etc. Call immediately if your headache occurs accompanied by sudden weight gain, swelling in the hands and face, pain in your upper right abdomen, or blurry vision.
It is normal for you to experience headaches during your pregnancy, as your body is simply undergoing many changes. There are many actions you can take to try to reduce the number of headaches you suffer, as well as treat them without medications. But be sure to contact your doctor if anything unusual occurs, for both your health and peace of mind.
Video: Advice on How to Treat a Headache Durning Pregnancy