Headaches during pregnancy

Headaches are one of the most common discomforts experienced during pregnancy.  One out of four expecting mothers is reported to experience a headache sometimes during their pregnancy. However, headaches, more often, tend to appear during the first and third trimesters. However, migraine sufferers are more often found to get some relief during pregnancy. Even then, some women report to encounter their first migraine when they're pregnant.

What causes headaches during pregnancy?

All the reasons that pave the way to a headache for a normal person could trigger a headache during pregnancy as well. Lack of sleep, dehydration, stress, allergies, sinus congestion, etc. can cause head during pregnancy. Other reasons that bring about a headache during pregnancy are:

Fluctuating hormone level:

Estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect the sensation of pain. A drop in estrogen levels can trigger a headache. Though estrogen levels rise in pregnancy, the level will be fluctuating, especially, during the first trimester. When the level of the estrogen drops for some reason, it can trigger a headache.

Caffeine withdrawal:

During pregnancy, it is important to reduce the caffeine intake. If the pregnant women used to consume caffeine regularly, sudden withdrawal from caffeine can trigger headaches which is an important side effect of caffeine withdrawal.

Increased blood flow:

Pregnancy hormones influence the blood vessels, making it more flexible. This will result in increased blood circulation. The sudden increase in the blood flow can bring about headaches during the first trimester.

Low blood sugar:

Due to morning sickness during the first trimester eating routine changes during the first trimester. Expecting mothers will be accustomed to vomiting and low appetite are during this time. This can lead to low blood sugar. Low blood sugar can trigger headaches.

Bad posture:

Bad postures, especially during the third trimester are found to trigger headaches.

Can headaches during pregnancy be an indication of something more serious?

Yes. Even though pregnancy during the first trimester is not a cause to worry much, persisting headaches during the second or third trimester of pregnancy could be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy-induced condition characterized by high blood pressure.

What are the types of headaches that expecting mother possibly experience during pregnancy?

Pregnant women can encounter with 5 types of headaches during pregnancy:

A tension headache:

The most commonly found headaches. Many women experience tension headaches throughout their pregnancy. However, it can be especially dreadful during the first trimester. Usually, lack of sleep, stress, and caffeine withdrawal are the culprits that bring about tension headaches.

Sinus headaches:

This appears as a result of inflamed sinuses. Pregnant women are prone to allergies. Allergies trigger sinus congestion. This, in turn, triggers headaches.

Cluster headaches:

Even though this type of headaches is not triggered by pregnancy, it will neither get reduced during pregnancy. Cluster headaches are characterized by quick and severe pain experience around one eye or temple, sometimes accompanied by watering eyes or a stuffy nose. They tend to occur at the same time each day

Preeclampsia headaches:

A persistent dull or throbbing pain that does not go away during the second or third trimester of pregnancy may be an indication of preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication marked by high blood pressures and protein in the urine, a potentially dangerous condition that affects approximately 5 to 10 percent of pregnancies.

Treating headache during pregnancy

During pregnancy, all the usual painkillers you used to take to get rid of a headache will not work.  Why, because not all the painkillers are safe for normal progression of pregnancy and healthy development of the fetus.

Here are some do's and don't's that help to get rid of headaches during pregnancy.

Do not take any medication without the permission of your doctor.

Don't ignore if you develop a spontaneous and severe headache or a headache that doesn't go away even after a whole day. This can be an indication of some underlying health issue.

To prevent low blood sugar, which is a common headache trigger, eat small meals frequently.

A good head, shoulder, back, and neck massage will help to bring down the headaches, especially the tension related one.

Practice good posture, especially during the third trimester.

Practice relaxation techniques like yoga and breathing exercise. This will help to bring down the stress and thereby headaches triggered by stress and strain.

Applying cold and heat pack one after other will help to get relief from headaches.

Go take a cold shower. It is found to bring down the headaches.

Take plenty of rest

Preventing headache during pregnancy:

Find out and avoid the triggers:

There are some factors that could trigger a headache during pregnancy. This will vary with the individual. Find the one or more than one which triggers a headache and avoiding is very important to prevent headaches during pregnancy.

Artificial sweeteners, MSG, high sounds, flashing lights, chocolates, fermented foods,  smoke, strong odor, excessive heat and cold surroundings, etc are common factors that reported to trigger headaches in pregnant women.

Sleep well:

Sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of headaches during pregnancy. Therefore take measures to sleep well during pregnancy.

Stay well hydrated:

Always stay well hydrated during pregnancy. Eat plenty of water. Dehydration not only trigger headaches, but it also can give rise to many serious issues during pregnancy.

Eat well:

 Follow a well-balanced diet. Also, never skip the food. If you don't feel hungry, eat little and increase the frequency of eating.