Ultimate Guide: Headaches During Pregnancy

Headaches During Pregnancy

 

Pregnancy headaches are by no means rare when it comes to carrying a child. Every mother-to-be suffers from various different side effects of pregnancy. Chances are if you are reading this then you have drawn the short straw and are suffering from one of the more painful side effects of pregnancy.

Firstly, it is important to mention that if your pregnancy headaches are really bad then you should consult a doctor right away. The majority of headaches during pregnancy consist of sharp, shooting pains at irregular intervals and although are generally irritating they should be just about bearable.

If you believe your headaches to be causing you serious discomfort then look for advice from a professional straight away. Of course most of the time it will be nothing but you can never be too safe when pregnant so do make sure you have the all clear as it is always better to be safe than sorry.

 

The Cause

Although many women will associate pregnancy headaches with there being something wrong in most cases this is not the case at all. When a woman is pregnant her body goes through a lot of quite traumatic changes and the body often struggles to deal with these changes. The backlash? Side effects.

You need to remember that during your latter stages of pregnancy (and early stages to a certain degree) your body is being put under a lot of pressure both physically and mentally. Pregnancy headaches are believed to be caused by this pressure mounting, causing tension somewhere in the brain.

See: Reasons for Headaches in Pregnancy

 

On The Increase?

Lack of sleep can be a cause of pregnancy headaches and therefore it is important to rest as much as you can. I know full well that this can be difficult if your baby has decided it does not want to follow your sleeping pattern but all in all more sleep should equal less frequency of headaches.

 

Headaches during Pregnancy First Trimester

Any woman in the first trimester of pregnancy will tell you that her body is going through a lot of transformations. She also experiences a lot of symptoms as a result of these changes.

For example, some women will complain about how their breasts seem to look bigger. Others report an increasing aversion to certain types of food, sometimes coupled with nausea or morning sickness. There are also women who complain about first-trimester pregnancy headaches.

The first trimester is riddled with problems as your body starts to adapt to pregnancy. Because of the relatively sudden increase in hormones, women may suffer from more frequent headaches.

 

  • First-trimester pregnancy headaches are usually hormonal in nature.

As the baby starts to grow inside the uterus, it needs a special milieu of hormones. The fluctuations in these hormones have several effects on the mother’s body; for instance, blood vessels in the brain may dilate, leading to first-trimester pregnancy headaches. First trimester headaches, however, are not solely due to hormones.

 

  • Morning sickness can lead to dehydration and hypoglycemia, both of which can cause first-trimester pregnancy headaches.

The first trimester can be rather problematic to pregnant women as this is the time when nausea occurs. When you experience morning sickness, you may not be able to replace your water losses effectively. The result: water depletion, which causes first-trimester pregnancy headaches.

 

  • First-trimester pregnancy headaches may also be due to sleep deprivation, fatigue, or emotional strain.

Headaches, in general, have a psychological component; that is, emotional and mental stress can greatly increase the frequency of first-trimester pregnancy headaches. The first trimester is arguably the most important trimester as the baby’s major organ development occurs in the first 20 weeks. Accompanying this stage is an onslaught of bodily changes that puts a lot of stress on you.

 

  • During the first three months of pregnancy, some women also suffer from food aversions.

This may cause malnutrition and low blood sugar, making you more prone to first-trimester pregnancy headaches. The first trimester is expected to be particularly tricky when it comes to your diet; food aversions, however, should go away at around the start of the second trimester. At this time, headaches also start to resolve. First-trimester pregnancy headaches may be common in some women; fortunately, others experiencing frequent headaches before getting pregnant actually have fewer headaches during pregnancy. Nevertheless, any increase in frequency or quality, or any new symptoms that accompany a headache, should alert you to inform your obstetrician about your pregnancy headaches.

 

  • First-trimester pregnancy headaches are usually benign and harmless

However, they may sometimes be a sign of an underlying condition which may be easily treated once diagnosed. It, therefore, helps you to learn about pregnancy headaches and their causes.

Many over-the-counter drugs are safe for women to use to alleviate first-trimester pregnancy headaches. The first trimester, however, is an important phase of the baby’s growth; the baby is most vulnerable to insults during this period, so any drug should be prescribed by the doctor before you start taking it.

 

Headaches during Pregnancy Second Trimester

Pregnancy headaches can and do occur throughout a woman’s entire pregnancy. Typically, the most painful and debilitating pregnancy headaches occur during the first trimester.

Headaches during the first trimester tend to be severe and uncomfortable but typically pose no threat to the developing fetus.

Headaches in pregnancy second trimester often are related to poor posture and may indicate serious complications.

The good news about headaches during the second trimester is that while they do occur in some women, they are typically infrequent and tolerable, and are usually not an indication of any serious underlying complications.

 

  • The exception to this is migraines.

If the type of a pregnancy headache a woman experiences during her first trimester is migraines, these not only tend to continue well into the second trimester but may also worsen and become more severe.

These migraines are usually triggered by noises and various smells, particularly second-hand smoke.

If you experience a pregnancy headache during the first trimester it is more than likely related to your body attempting to adjust to the new change in hormones.

By the second trimester, the expectant mothers’ body has regulated this influx in hormones and the frequency and severity of headaches tend to decrease.

If a second-trimester pregnancy headache does occur it could be due to any of the same reasons associated with first-trimester pregnancy headaches: stress, hunger, or dehydration due to an increase in the bodily fluids necessary to support the developing fetus.

Some other causes of pregnancy headaches second trimester that are not often found during the first trimester are an increase in allergies and a heightened sense of smell.

 

  • An increase in allergies may lead to an increase in a pregnancy headache known as sinus headaches.

These typically require no medical treatment and can be soothed with warm washcloths, steam, and hot tea. These sorts of pregnancy headaches also tend to represent no indication of harm to the developing fetus.

 

  • Another cause, though not as prevalent as in the third trimester, of pregnancy headaches is a change in posture.

A growing uterus and an increase in the weight of the baby may lead some women to lose their good posture, but by making a conscious effort to sit up straight, these forms of pregnancy headaches can usually be avoided. As seen in the first trimester, tension headaches can also flair up during the second trimester but are usually soothed by massage.

Pregnancy Headaches second Trimester, although rare, can signal various health conditions that could lead to complications with the pregnancy.

The most typical complication indicated by increased pregnancy headaches during the second trimester is a disorder known as Preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia can be diagnosed by having high protein in the urine and an increase in blood pressure.

As with any sudden change in symptoms during pregnancy, when experiencing pregnancy headaches during the second trimester, it is always best to discuss your concerns and symptoms with a licensed healthcare provider.

It is also strongly recommended to discuss any forms of treatment with your provider.

 

Headaches during Pregnancy Third Trimester

Third Trimester Headaches

 

How to Get Rid of Headaches during Pregnancy

See: How To Get Rid of Headaches During Pregnancy

 

See: What to Take for a Headache during Pregnancy

 

Avoiding Headaches while Pregnant

Having a lot of headaches while pregnant is pretty common, so don’t be concerned if it feels like your head always hurts.  Most headaches during pregnancy are caused by hormones and an increase in how much blood is circulating in your body.  Hormones are surging constantly during pregnancy, and growing another human being inside your body naturally increases how much blood is flowing everywhere, including in your head.

There are a few things to mitigate your headaches while pregnant.  You may even be able to avoid some headaches with a few simple changes.  For example, not getting enough sleep can cause headaches.  This may be a difficult thing to change because sometimes it may seem impossible to get some sleep.  However, you can help your pregnancy headaches a little bit by simply taking a nap.  Sometimes just lying down in a dark room can even help your headache, even if you can’t get to sleep.

You should also make sure you’re getting the proper nutrition during your pregnancy.  Some headaches are caused by low blood sugar, so eating a meal can be a simple solution to some headaches while pregnant.  Dehydration also causes headaches, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.  After all, the baby needs water too!  Also try to avoid caffeine, although cutting caffeine completely out during pregnancy can be difficult if you typically consume large amounts each day.  Caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches, so you might not be doing yourself a favor if you swore off all caffeine the moment you got pregnant.  In order to cut the caffeine, you’ll have to take baby steps to get yourself off it, much like a drug.

Also, try to avoid common headache triggers like chocolate.  Fresh yeast can also cause severe headaches, so avoid eating too much freshly baked bread.  Also, yogurt can cause headaches, believe it or not, so limit how much yogurt you eat.

Too much stress can also cause headaches while pregnant, so try to calm down just a bit.  Pregnancy is a stressful enough time on its own, but any small things you can do to relieve stress will help.  Try getting a special pregnancy massage if you’re experiencing a high level of stress constantly.  You’ll feel better immediately after you leave the table.

Good posture is also an important key to avoiding headaches while pregnant.  If the blood can get to your entire body evenly, you’re less likely to get a headache.

If you do happen to get a headache during your pregnancy, most over-the-counter pain relievers will help.  It will also help to know what kind of a headache you have.  If your sinuses are bothering you, then try a warm compress around your eyes and nose.  However, a cold compress will work better if you’re feeling a lot of tension.

Headaches during pregnancy can also be a symptom of a more serious problem, so ask your doctor if you’re concerned.  Headaches can indicate preeclampsia or high blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy.  Preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, which can be a very deadly problem if it’s not treated early.

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