Causes of Severe Headaches during Pregnancy

Headaches during Pregnancy

There’s good and there’s bad news when it comes to pregnancy headaches. The good news for chronic migraine sufferers is that, in many women, migraine headaches disappear during pregnancy. This change is brought about by hormonal changes inside the body and is especially a relief for women who suffer from chronic migraines and who have had to stop taking their regular medication because of possible complications it could have during pregnancy.

The Causes

Pregnancy is for some a pleasure, while for some it is a really trying period of time. Often the onset of pregnancy brings along with it a number of problems, such as morning sickness, headaches, and lack of appetite to name a few.

There’s Good News for Pregnant Women Suffering from Headaches

Often, those women who suffer from horrible attacks of migraines feel relieved after the onset of the pregnancy; at the same time, there are women who experience horrible headaches during pregnancy – mostly during the first and the last semesters.

It is not clear why pregnant women who suffer from migraines before pregnancy will not suffer headaches during pregnancy, and vice-versa. Some medical research studies say that the reason could be safely attributed to the increase of hormones in the blood, especially estrogen and progesterone.

Serotonin, a substance that is known as a ‘brain-chemical’ (which is responsible for regulation of pain), which is found in the blood is greatly influenced by the existence of the above-mentioned hormones in the blood of pregnant women. It seems that when the levels of estrogen fall, the levels of Serotonin will increase and vice-versa.

The major causes of a headache during pregnancy remain the same as before, i.e. stress, bad posture, and hormonal changes in the blood, blood pressure, and muscle tension and so on. You will be able to get relief by simply identifying the cause and eliminating it; however, identifying the cause is quite difficult and cumbersome.

Medications are not advisable against a headache during pregnancy without the express knowledge of the doctor. In some cases, the doctor will prescribe medication, which is safe for the would-be-mother and the baby and reduces the intensity and frequency of headaches during pregnancy. Often, the doctor will prescribe a change in diet to include zinc and multivitamins rather than prescribe hard-core medication, if you suffer from headaches during pregnancy.

Some doctors have tried to play around with the regulation of estrogen levels with excellent results. It seems that estrogen does influence the levels of Serotonin and careful regulation might provide the long-sought answers for relief from headaches during pregnancy.

Until then women who suffer from this malady have very few alternatives like putting up with a terrible headache, sleep as much as you can so your body and mind are rested well and eat a balanced and preferably vegetarian diet. Avoid coffee and tea for the period when you are pregnant.

If you’ve never had severe headaches before in your life and you start having them during pregnancy, there’s no need to be immediately alarmed; however, you should check it out with your doctor to make sure that the headaches are not a sign of something else that is wrong. Many women experience headaches during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester because of the onslaught of hormones caused by being pregnant. Typically, this type of hormonal pregnancy headache will disappear as you enter your second trimester and your hormone levels stabilize.

Finding Relief

What is most frustrating for a lot of pregnant women is that headaches during pregnancy have fewer treatment options. Women who have a standard medication that they’ve been using for years to combat migraines suddenly find themselves defenseless against their migraines as the medication that usually works for them is deemed unsafe for pregnant women. Likewise, a lot of over-the-counter medications for headaches are deemed unsafe for treating pregnancy headaches. The only over-the-counter medication said to be safe is acetaminophen. For peace of mind, discuss this with your doctor.

Other Options

Some pregnant women find relief from headaches through acupuncture, massage, and aromatherapy. If these all sound too alternative to you, you can always go by the old headache standbys: cold compress to the head and neck while sleeping in a darkened, silent room. This remedy works for many people, young and old, male and female, for everything from pregnancy headaches to sunlight and other eye-related headaches.

If headaches are plaguing you frequently during pregnancy, be sure to discuss it with your doctor even if you’re managing it well on your own. Headaches during pregnancy can be, in some cases, a symptom of a more serious condition. While it’s most likely that they’re caused by hormones, fatigue or stress, other issues, such as preeclampsia, do exist and should be checked by your doctor to make sure that you, and your baby, are in good health.

Causes of Severe Headaches during Pregnancy, Last Updated: 6/8/2017

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