Safe Tips to Treat Headaches During Pregnancy

October 10th, 2023 | 11:00 am

Experiencing a headache during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, is normal. However, when combined with the other uncomfortable symptoms and experiences of pregnancy, having a headache is concerning. Managing headaches can also present a challenging effort, as avoiding medicines may be necessary, particularly in the first trimester. The good news is that there are alternative methods to naturally manage a headache without resorting to pain-relieving medications. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the potential causes of the headache.

What Causes Headaches During Pregnancy?

The exact cause of a headache in an individual may not always be clear, and it can vary in intensity and location depending on the root cause. Fatigue and stress are commonly considered factors, especially during pregnancy. Sinus cavity blockage, frequently experienced in the first trimester, can trigger headaches due to nasal congestion. Migraine headaches are also prevalent during pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting in the early days of pregnancy can lead to dehydration, which itself can be a cause of headaches.

Other causes of headaches may not be immediately obvious. Some women may experience withdrawal syndrome in the form of headaches when they stop consuming caffeine and sodas. Additionally, hunger and low blood sugar levels can also act as triggers. Eye strain is another common culprit, particularly for women working in poorly lit environments or spending prolonged hours on a computer.

Types of Headache During Pregnancy

The symptoms of a headache may vary depending on the underlying cause. 

  • A headache resulting from general stress and fatigue during pregnancy can cause a dull, overall pain. 
  • A headache due to sinus cavity blockage might lead to sensitivity below the eyes and around the nose, along with pain in the front of the head. 
  • A migraine headache can be felt on either side and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. 
  • Sometimes, some women may also experience a tingling sensation in their arms and/or legs and have sudden visions of flashes of light. 
  • A tension headache, on the other hand, might feel like a tight band of pain around the head, which could be accompanied by pain in the back of the neck.

Pregnancy Headache Relief

The best way to avoid experiencing a headache is to try to prevent it. This includes identifying the things that trigger headaches. Therefore, by identifying the triggers, it may be possible to reduce exposure and become aware of them to prevent headaches. While preventing a headache may seem like a good idea, it may not always be consciously possible. The good thing is that there are simple, common home remedies that may bring relief from the debilitating pain of a headache.

Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol 

Smoking, including secondhand smoke, which can have potential side effects during pregnancy, should be avoided. Drinking alcohol or alcohol-based beverages should also be abstained from.

Keeping track of the triggers 

If headaches have become a common occurrence during pregnancy or are new to a person while pregnant, it may be beneficial to understand if there are any specific things that trigger the headaches. In fact, tracking the number of times or the time of day the headaches occur may help identify a pattern (if any).

Staying Hydrated as Much as Possible 

Dehydration can be caused by various factors, including the frequency of vomiting during pregnancy. Dehydration may result in dark yellow urine or dizziness. When the body doesn’t receive sufficient hydration, it can strain other bodily systems, often leading to headaches. Gradually increasing fluid and water intake can help alleviate this issue.

Maintaining a Proper Diet 

Consuming foods that provide essential nutrients to the body is crucial. However, certain foods might exacerbate headaches. Identifying such foods or consulting a doctor can help achieve a balanced diet during pregnancy and mitigate the occurrence of headaches.

Reducing Stress Levels 

Stress commonly triggers headaches. Managing stress is essential to support the proper development of the baby. Taking cool showers, getting massages, taking breaks from work, practising yoga, engaging in grounding exercises, or meditating can significantly help manage stress during pregnancy.

Managing migraine headache 

If migraines are the cause of your headaches, finding relief can involve resting in a cool, dark room with minimal noise. Trying other simple methods, such as acupuncture and physical therapy, might also provide relief from these migraines. Migraine headaches can also be triggered by certain factors, which may be known. Beneficial approaches include avoiding and minimising exposure to these triggers. It’s important to refrain from taking medications for migraine headaches without consulting a doctor first. However, it’s possible that migraine headaches could improve after the first trimester.

Cold or warm compresses

Sometimes, the exact cause of a headache may remain unidentified. In such cases, attempting cold or warm compresses and using ice packs may offer relief from the headaches.

When to See a Doctor?

Headache in itself may not be anything harmful. However, a severe headache that doesn’t go away or is accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and changes in vision may be a cause for concern. Sometimes, becoming pregnant may bring previously unknown health conditions to light, such as a vascular lesion on the brain. There may also be an occurrence of serious conditions in patients with diabetes or high blood pressure, such as pre-eclampsia, which is a pregnancy-related high blood pressure condition.

If the headaches persist and do not go away even after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is important to let the healthcare provider know about them, even if they seem trivial. Having migraines may, although rarely, also increase the risk of a pregnant woman getting strokes. Such headache events should be reported to a doctor for appropriate treatment.

At Giggles Hospitals, we understand the importance of addressing even the smallest concerns of our patients. We are thoroughly committed to providing the best quality of comprehensive healthcare facilities to our patients, supported by a team of extensively experienced, highly qualified consultants, surgeons, and other well-trained medical professionals. Our team strives to provide prompt and accurate treatment for the appropriate management of health concerns in our patients, with utmost care and confidentiality.