Headaches during pregnancy can be a challenge. Since even over the counter pain killers are not recommended, you are left with few options to battle a headache.
While some pregnancy headaches are due to hormones, almost all women will also deal with a silent threat: caffeine. Most of us are used to starting the day with a cup of coffee. But what do you do when coffee is the reason you are getting a headache?
While the first 12 weeks of pregnancy will trigger hormones that trigger a 40% increase in blood volume that can, in turn, trigger headaches. How do you tell if your headache is related to these hormones or from a lack of the daily caffeine you are used to?
In the last weeks of pregnancy, headaches can be very dangerous as they are often associated with a condition called pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a condition in pregnancy that has symptoms such as headaches unrelieved by over-the-counter medication, high blood pressure, swelling and protein in the urine. This is a severe medical condition and you should not just ignore these headaches but should be working in conjunction with your physician for treatment.
Headaches during pregnancy may also be caused or made worst by any of the following:
- Poor sleep
- Nausea and vomiting
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Nicotine withdrawal
What you can do to ease your pregnancy headaches
The advice here will apply to anyone, pregnant or not:
- Reduce stress
- Get more sleep
- Eat regularly to avoid low blood sugar
- Drink more water
But specific to being pregnant you should treat morning sickness so it does not wear you down, leading to more headaches. You can also consult with a chiropractor to ensure your posture is not triggering headaches.
The general advice is to avoid over-the-counter pain relief products during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Consult your doctor for their advice after 12 weeks. Some people consult a homeopath or an acupuncturist for treatments to relieve your pain as well.
Things to try to relieve a headache on your own include hot or cold compresses applied to the point of pain or around the forehead, back or neck if you think the headache is tension related. Ask for a light massage of the neck and shoulders to see if that helps relieve a tension headache.
Many people also find resting in a dark room to be helpful. Being mindful and slowing your breathing is another technique that often helps with headaches.
If you have a headache that won’t respond to your efforts it is appropriate to reach out to your doctor for advice.
You tried all the above and you still have headaches during pregnancy:
The pain of any headache can be both painful and frustrating. Not being able to use over-the-counter aides during pregnancy elevates that frustration and that stress could, in fact, make it feel worse. Since the traditional over-the-counter remedies are not available to your during pregnancy, these homeopathic remedies are your first line of defense before consulting a physician.
In most cases, preventing the headache is probably the best place to start. If you know you are addicted to caffeine, try to wean yourself off before you become pregnant or at the earliest stages so you are escalating your headaches because several symptoms are triggering them.
Self-care is not selfish. Take care of yourself and try to create the most calm and stress-free environment that will not trigger headaches in the first place. While it’s never possible to create a perfect world, with planning, you may be able to avoid the things that trigger a headache to begin with, at a least some of the time.