When you’re pregnant, it’s not uncommon for hormonal changes to cause you to experience headaches. Tension headaches are the most common type, but some women also experience migraine headaches. According to researchers, roughly 1 in 5 women will suffer a migraine during her lifetime. Among these women, 15 percent of them will have their first migraine during pregnancy.
Causes of Migraines in Pregnancy
Doctors don’t quite understand the mechanism that causes pregnant women to be more susceptible to migraines or other types of headaches. However, the leading theory is that the heighted hormones, paired with the sudden lack of caffeine can contribute to the development of migraine headaches. In addition, you may also suffer more headaches when pregnant due to insomnia, fatigue, stuffy noses and congestion – all of which are common pregnancy symptoms. Stress and anxiety over your baby’s impending arrival can also contribute to migraines in pregnancy.
Severity of Migraines
Regardless of what causes migraine headaches, they can be quite a naissance when you’re expecting. The severity of your throbbing head can range from mild to severe. The pain is usually one side of the woman’s head, and they can last up to 48 to 72 hours (for very severe migraines). Some mild migraines aren’t painful, where you just see color or have a temporary loss of vision. The more severe migraines can be painful, and they can come with nausea and vomiting.
Fortunately, about two-thirds of women who have a history of migraine headaches find that their migraines actually improve in severity when they’re expecting. This is especially true in women who had worsened migraines during their regular menstrual periods.
For other women, they are not as lucky. Some migraine sufferers don’t experience any improvement in their symptoms. Some women actually find that their migraine headaches become more painful, and they occur more often.
How to Get Relief from Pregnancy Migraines
When you’re pregnant, you have to be careful about what medications that you take. In the first trimester, it’s highly recommended that you avoid taking any drugs or medicines – since all your baby’s major organs are undergoing rapid growth and development in the first 13 weeks and you don’t want any ingredients to accidentally interfere with this vital stage of fetal development.
In the second trimester, when most of your baby’s organs have developed, it’s safer to start taking pain medicine for your migraine headaches. As a rule of thumb, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is considered the safest pain medicine for pregnant women. Unfortunately, aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil) should be avoided, since NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) have been linked to causing pregnancy complications.
Most prescription medicines for migraines are also not safe for the developing baby. If you find that your migraine headaches are too painful and occur too frequently, you should talk to your healthcare provider about his recommendations. Sometimes, the benefits of certain prescription drugs outweigh any potential risks to your developing baby.
If you can, try to aim for natural remedies to treat your migraines. For example, some women find that taking a cold shower gives them temporary and quick relief from their migraine headaches. It may also help to sleep off your migraine in a cold, quiet, cool room.
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