Headaches are a common discomfort of pregnancy. From hormone changes to the sudden end of drinking coffee to not sleeping well, there are plenty of reasons pregnancy can bring on a headache. Headaches may be a pain in the neck (well, more like a pain in the head) but they are usually not dangerous for moms and babies. Here’s what you need to know about the causes,
prevention, and treatment of headaches during pregnancy.
Women get headaches from time to time, so it isn’t surprising they pop up during pregnancy, too. The reason is not always known, but many things can lead to a headache while you’re pregnant such as:
Low blood sugar
Lack of sleep
Eyestrain from changes in your vision or too much screen time on the computer or phone
Emotional or physical stress
Muscle strain from changes in your posture as the baby grows and you gain weight
High blood pressure in pregnancy
Before becoming pregnant, your main method of treating a headache might have been to reach for the pain medication. But, now that you’re expecting, you may want to try to deal with the pain in other ways and use medicine as a last resort. Here are some alternative ways to cope with a headache during your pregnancy.
Rest in a dark room: Turn off the lights and lower the volume of the TV or turn it off and try to take a nap.
Use hot and cold towels: Alternate between heat and cold on your head where it aches.
Take a bath: If you are not experiencing pregnancy complications and your doctor says it’s safe to take a bath, you can relax in a warm tub.
Try natural health services: Alternative care such as massage, chiropractic care, or acupuncture may help to relieve headaches. Be sure to choose licensed professionals for all your natural health care needs and talk to your doctor especially if you have any issues with your pregnancy.
Make an appointment with your eye doctor: Pregnancy can affect your eyes by making them dry and changing your eyesight. Your eye doctor can offer options to help relieve headaches from eye issues.
Ask for help: If you have other children, don’t be shy about calling a friend or family member to ask for help so you can get some rest. The people who care about you are often more than happy to help out.
If you can get through an occasional headache without using pain medication, that’s great. But sometimes, chronic headaches or severe migraines are just too much to handle. You don’t have to suffer in pain just because you’re having a baby.
That doesn’t mean you should take the over-the-counter medication you usually would or the migraine medication in your medicine cabinet. Now that you’re pregnant, you have to be more careful about what you use to treat your pain. So, call your doctor. Your doctor will tell you which OTC pain medicine is safe or prescribe medication if you need it.
Tylenol (acetaminophen) is considered safe to take while you’re pregnant, but it should only be taken when needed.
Your doctor may recommend NSAIDs such as Motrin or Advil (ibuprofen) or aspirin in the second trimester.
For migraines, your doctor may give you prescription medications to treat migraine headaches, nausea, and pain.
Caffeine is a drug. It’s addictive, and your body can become dependent on it. If you love your coffee or soda and stop drinking it all of a sudden when you find out you’re pregnant, you can go through caffeine withdrawal. Caffeine withdrawal can cause fatigue, irritability, shakiness, and, yes, a headache.
So, if you get a headache right after you stop drinking coffee, it’s probably from caffeine withdrawal. It may take your body a few days to adjust to the absence of caffeine, so here are some tips to get you through.
Cut down on the caffeine slowly: If possible, don’t give up caffeine cold turkey. It’s easier on your body if you cut back gradually. If you do get a headache, having a small amount of caffeine may help, and it is not shown to be harmful.
Find other ways to boost your energy: Caffeinated beverages give you energy, so you may feel tired and lack energy when you switch to decaf coffee or caffeine-free soda, especially mid-day. If you feel sluggish, you can try to give yourself a natural boost by having a healthy snack, getting some fresh air, or going for a walk.
Stay hydrated: Don’t skip your beverage break just because it’s no longer a coffee break. You still need fluids, so drink plenty of water or other beverages that don’t contain caffeine.
Go to bed early: To help keep your energy levels up during the day, try to get enough rest at night.
Allergies or a sinus infection can cause pain and pressure in your forehead, or around your eyes and the bridge of your nose. You may also have a stuffy or a runny nose and a fever.
Call your doctor if you think you have a sinus headache. Your doctor may want to prescribe an antibiotic if you have a sinus infection.
You can also treat a sinus headache by:
Trying to stay away from the things that may be causing your allergy
Using a saline nasal spray or neti pot to help loosen and clear the mucus
Using a humidifier or holding your head over a steaming bowl of water with a towel over your head and the bowl
Drinking plenty of fluids
Getting extra rest
Not all over-the-counter sinus and allergy medications are safe to take while you’re pregnant. So, if you think you need an antihistamine or a pain reliever, you should talk to your doctor about which medicine is safe for you to use.