Migraine Headaches and Pregnancy

image001 Migraine headaches are extremely painful and annoying. They are quite dissimilar to tension or stress related headaches. Migraine headaches are caused due to dilated blood vessels in your brain and usually take place on one side of your head.

Migraine headaches and pregnancy are rarely put together. However, these headaches might heighten during your pregnancy. Yes, if you have been suffering from migraine headaches, you may get stronger attacks of these headaches, which can last from a few minutes to several hours. However, some women hardly suffer from a migraine attack during their pregnancy, while others may get their very first migraine headache when they are pregnant. Want to know more about migraine headaches and pregnancy? Read on to find out.

Are Migraine Headaches Common During Pregnancy?

Pregnant women often complain of a throbbing pain in their head, which stays for a good number of pains and prevents them from doing anything. Apart from these pains, a number of pregnant women get mild to chronic attacks of migraine. One in every 5 women gets a migraine headache at some phase in her life, and approximately 15% of these women experience it for the very first time during their first pregnancy, generally during the first trimester.

The first trimester is quite tough as you are adjusting to the new changes taking place in your body, including the increased blood flow and hormonal imbalance. Moreover, nausea and headaches further aggravate your troubles and make it quite uneasy for you to rest peacefully during your first trimester. If you are experiencing migraines during this time, then it will become even harder for you to do your routine chores. Migraines begin as a hard, pounding ache from one side of your head, usually at the end of your head and can last for as long as 3 days. If you are doing a lot of physical activity while you get an attack of migraine, it is likely to worsen. You might also suffer from vomiting and nausea when you experience a migraine headache and can also become irritable by the slightest increase in sound or light.

Certain women experience “migraines with aura.” These are migraine headaches that are accompanied by fatigue, weakness, problems while speaking, numbness, and experiencing blind spots. These terrible symptoms can begin around 40-60 minutes prior to a migraine attack and can last for an hour during the attack.

On the other hand, around two thirds of pregnant women, who have been victims of migraine all their life, experience a reduction in the occurrence and intensity of this headache during their pregnancy. This usually happens if you got your first migraine during your first period, or if your migraine headaches aggravate during the time of your menstruation.

Why Do Migraine Headaches Take Place During Pregnancy?

The exact cause of migraine headaches during pregnancy has yet to be identified. However, researchers and doctors have discovered that they are related to the rapid changes taking place in the women’s nervous system and the increased blood flow in her body.

Your brain cells become extremely excited when you are pregnant, which releases different chemicals. These chemicals bother the blood vessels lying on the surface of your brain, which cause them to become dilated and result in an excruciating pain known as migraine.

Moreover, it is also believed that estrogen hormone has a huge part in the onset of migraine headaches during pregnancy. This is precisely why menstruation, menopause and pregnancy alter the pattern of your migraines; because when you are menstruating or pregnant, there is an increase in the estrogen levels in your body that may cause your migraines to occur frequently and with more intensity. On the other hand, menopause causes the estrogen levels to drop and hence may put an end to your migraine attacks, or might reduce their intensity.

Apart from that, fatigue, tension, loud noises, tobacco smoke, bright lights, scorching heat, excessive cold and food, including processed meats, chocolates, hot dogs and synthetic sweeteners can activate migraine headaches during pregnancy as well.

How to Handle Migraine Headaches During Pregnancy

1. Talk to Your Doctor about Medications

If you are constantly suffering from migraine headaches during your pregnancy, then you need to do something about it. You shouldn’t let your migraine control you and take over your peaceful life. First and foremost, you need to discuss this issue with your doctor and ask her if it is safe to continue using the medications that you have been taking lately, or if she can recommend any new pill. Moreover, you will also find out whether or not you should resort to medications for soothing your migraine attacks. You should consult your doctor before making this decision.

Acetaminophen and caffeine have proven to be quite useful in calming down migraine headaches during pregnancy. However, you need to be careful to not increase your caffeine intake to more than 200mg of caffeine per day. There are some women whose migraine attacks worsen when they consume caffeine, so you need to take care of that as well.

2. Home Remedies for Migraine Headaches

Apart from that, you can make use of the following methods for mitigating your migraine pain.

  • Take the help of alternative medicine and therapies. Studies have exhibited that holistic therapies that do not make use of any invasive medical treatment have proven to be useful in alleviating the migraine headache. These include massage, yoga, meditation, acupuncture and biofeedback. All these therapies relax your mind and can help you soothe away your headache.
  • Maintain a migraine journal. Make a migraine journal in which you write everything related to your migraine headache, including the time and date of your attack, its intensity, the number of hours it lasted for, the food you ate that day, the activities you did during and before your headache and your location. This will help you identify the triggers of your pain.
  • Avoid your migraine activators. Once you have a clear idea of the exact causes of your migraine headaches, which could be the food you eat, you need to start avoiding them. For instance, if eating hot dogs or chocolates sets off your migraine headache, you need to stop eating them. Moreover, you need to get sufficient sleep to relax yourself, although women often find it hard to sleep properly during pregnancy.
  • Don’t forget to exercise. Try to take part in some physical activity and exercise during your pregnancy. You could walk, swim or do yoga. This aids you in relaxing your nerves and reducing the severity of your migraine attack. However, try not to exercise or walk much once you are hit by a migraine attack.
  • Rest and relax. You need to rest a lot during your pregnancy. Whenever, you have finished doing your day’s chores, lay down in a quiet room with dim lighting and relax. You could also play some light, soothing music on your phone to calm you down. You can also use a cold compress on your forehead or beneath your neck, especially if you are experiencing a migraine headache.

Since you know the connection between migraine headaches and pregnancy, do you want to know how to treat pregnancy headaches? Check out the video below: