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Being pregnant is one of the most joyous times in a woman’s life but it can also be one of the most difficult times as well. A large percent of women will notice an increase and severity of headaches while they are pregnant.

There are many different causes for these headaches in which I will list below.

  1. Stress:  With pregnancy there comes a higher degree of stress.  Many women worry about their unborn baby which causes stress which in turn triggers a headache. 
  2. Sleep:  Although most pregnant women will find they get tired much quicker and want to sleep more, sometimes this is not an option, especially if the mother-to-be works a full time job or has another child in the home.  As the pregnancy gets into the third trimester, the ability to sleep comfortably lessens and the expectant mother begins to lose valuable sleep time.
  3. Diet:  There are many foods that can have adverse effects on the body and can trigger a headache.
  4. Hormones:  A pregnant women is bombarded with a large amount of hormones which can cause an imbalance and affect the vessels by constricting and dilating. 

Women experience more headaches in the first three and last three month of pregnancy.  In the first three months is it largely due to the increase of blood and the sudden impact of hormones.  In the last three the cause is generally from bad posture and lack of adequate sleep.  In a very odd twist, women who had frequent migraines before they got pregnant often notice a significant drop in the onset of migraines. 

What to do to Relieve a Headache While Pregnant

Pregnant women have to be very careful as to what they can and cannot take during pregnancy and the usual remedies they are used to taking are often not suggested by doctors.  The following are some very good ideas as to how to prevent or relieve a headache during pregnancy.

  • Find the trigger:  Headaches are triggered by some kind of stimuli, whether it is what you eat or what you aren’t eating enough of, stress in your life, losing sleep, or not getting enough exercise.  It is suggested to keep a journal and note everything you eat and do during your daily routine.  Eventually you will be able to figure out the trigger and then you can eliminate whatever that is from your routine.
  • Balanced diet:  You may find that you are not getting enough of the proper vitamins and minerals you need from your diet which can often cause side effects such as headaches.  Make sure you are taking your prenatal vitamins as well as eating a healthy diet. 
  • Sinuses:  If you find your source of headache is from a sinus infection or sinus pressure, lay a warm rag on your face to try to relieve the pressure which should in turn relieve your headache.
  • Tension: When you get stressed this also causes tension or the tightening of the muscles in your neck.  A cold compress on your neck will help relieve the tension and lessen the headache. 
  • Posture:  As you get further along in your pregnancy you will find the added weight in your mid-section will likely cause you to have bad posture.  Stand up next to a wall and push your shoulders against the wall repeating this action several times.  Also you might want to have some extra back support for your chair or in your car while you are driving.  Try to remind yourself to sit up straight.
  • Medications:  The over the counter medication most doctors recommend for pregnant women is acetaminophen.  You should always consult your doctor before you take any kind of medication to make sure it is safe.
  • Get pampered:  It is perfectly ok to get some extra TLC.  Make an appointment to get a professional massage at least two or three times during your pregnancy.  Your body is going through major changes and you certainly deserve a good massage which will help relieve your tension and lessen your headaches.

Headache prevention is always the best method

Eliminating foods and beverages that are known to cause headaches, such as caffeine, chocolate, and wine will likely help you a great deal.  You may even want to consult a dietician to help you pinpoint exactly what foods cause the most headaches and get recommendations about what foods are best to help fight off headaches.

Since your body chemistry has changed foods you used to be able to eat without a problem may be causing the headaches now.  Keep a good record of foods you eat and the effects they have on your body.  You might be able to pin point which foods are the trigger and thus you can eliminate them from your diet to reduce the frequency of headaches.

Getting plenty of recuperative sleep is very important as well.  When the body isn’t getting enough sleep it sends out signals to many areas of our body to let us know we need to rest.  Pay attention to those warnings and get plenty of rest. Learning some pre-natal yoga exercises that help stretch the muscles will help relieve tension in your neck and will lessen the severity or onset of headaches.  Yoga is also very beneficial in helping you to correct your bad posture habits. 

You need to realize the tremendous stress your body is going through and it is very common for pregnant women to get occasional headaches.  It’s ok to sit back and put your feet up and not try so hard to do everything on your own.  Allow your significant other pamper you with rubbing your feet or giving you a back rub.  It’s an amazing thing how the human touch can quickly relieve stress and tension in neck and shoulders.

Pregnancy should be a fun and exciting time but you have to be aware of the amount of stress that unborn baby is putting on your body.  All the hormones running through your body is bound to cause some kind of physical reaction.  Your sleep will become disturbed in the last 3 months because of the weight of the baby and the very cozy space your baby is living in.

You might find it more comfortable to sleep in a recliner during your last month of pregnancy.  Although you are limited in what medicines you can take while pregnant, it is still very easy to treat a headache while pregnant if you are aware of what the triggers are.

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