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Headaches During Pregnancy – Causes and Treaments

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Headaches are common in pregnancy, especially during the first trimester when the body tries to adapt to the various ongoing changes. Headaches are supposedly caused by the abrupt fluctuations in hormones and unregulated circulation of blood, though the exact reason is unknown.  There can be many type of headaches possible, but the most common ones during pregnancy are tension headaches. If these bug you regularly, then they can make your pregnancy experience worse. Tension headaches make you feel a squeezing pain or steady dull ache on the sides of the head or the back of the neck.

Headaches During Pregnancy

Apart from the tension headaches, migraines are also common during pregnancy, with more than 16% of women suffering with migraine during their first time of pregnancy. However, the pain is different and more irritating when compared to a tension headache. Migraines tend to cause a throbbing, excruciating pain, mostly on only one side of the head. Migraines might also cause nausea and vomiting, along with photosensitivity and sensitivity to noise.

If migraine problems before pregnancy were linked to your menstrual cycle, the pain decreases after pregnancy though, as observed by a majority of women. Yet, even during the course of pregnancy, headaches can prove to be a major issue of concern. These can be excessively irritating and even painful. With headaches, the expecting mother suffers a lot. Read here, all about the reasons and how headaches during pregnancy can easily be tackled without too many side effects to worry about. The best way is to practice yoga and meditation. Practicing yoga every day for at least thirty minutes can calm the mind, body as well as the soul and be a great cure for headaches during pregnancy.

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Reasons for Pregnancy Headaches:-

The most plausible reasons for the migraines and headaches might be your lifestyle. Some of the reasons can be-

  •  Constant stress in the mind, causing muscle tension in the neck which causes headaches and migraines.
  •  Improper posture while sitting aggravates the headaches further.
  •  If you skip meals or don’t drink sufficient water during the day, the body feels weak and is one of the reasons for headaches and migraine pains.
  •  Exercising a lot, and that too in an irregular manner might cause stress in the body causing headaches.
  •  Sleeping less and even oversleeping are two important reasons which cause excruciating pain in the head. One should sleep 7-8 hours in a day, not more and not less.
  •  A particular food or drink, like ice creams, can also cause headache within a few hours of eating it. Ice creams cause brain freeze which might be one of the reasons for headaches.
  •  Caffeine withdrawal might be one of the reasons as well.If you were addicted to caffeine before your pregnancy, cutting down on it may trigger headaches as the body takes time to adjust to the new conditions.
  •  Migraines can be hereditary also. So if your mother or sister has a migraine problem, then there is a very high chance that you will develop one too.

Are Painkillers and Migraine Medicines Recommended?

Paracetamol is safe during pregnancy, although in low doses, and can be used as a medicine to treat headaches. If the pain still persists, it is best to consult the doctor for further medication.

Ibuprofen should be discouraged, especially in the first and third trimesters, while pregnant unless your doctor has advised you to. Ibuprofen can alleviate the risk of miscarriage and delayed labor. Aspirin should not be taken during pregnancy. For certain pregnancy complications it can be taken when advised by the doctor, but for headaches they are not advisable at all.

Medication for migraine pain should be taken only after thorough consultation with the doctor. The doctor might advise some anti-nausea medication with it as well, as it is a very commonly observed side effect.

Lastly, if you are taking any drugs while pregnancy, try to keep the number and dosage as low as possible.

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When Should I Seek Help for Pregnancy Headaches?

Most headaches during pregnancy are unpleasant but don’t cause any harm. However, if you experience other unusual symptoms like blurred vision, violent vomiting or sudden swelling and inflammation, these can be symptoms of pre-eclampsia, a serious form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure. In such a scenario, consult your doctor straight away.

Relief from Headaches without any Medication:

There are numerous simple tips and tricks which can ease the pain of headaches during pregnancy. Try to include them in your schedule and get the rid of the pain naturally.

Cool Compress:

Lie down straight and put a cool compress on your head. The coolness relieves the pain to quite a great extent.

Avoid Headache Triggers:

If particular food items or odors might have triggered your headaches and migraines sometime in the past, it is best to avoid them. A headache diary is necessary to identify migraine triggers.

Exercise Daily:

Go for a walk daily or perform some aerobics to keep yourself fit. Exercise regularly, without taking breaks in between as they ruin the exercise schedule. Exercise helps in regulating the sugar levels in the body and also improves the respiratory system in the body. It also triggers the release of endorphins, the so called “feel-good” chemicals inside the body.

Manage Stress:

Manage stress by preparing a to-do list and finishing each job one by one. Do not push yourself to the brink of depression as it may affect both the mother and the child. Keep your goals realistic to achieve them and be calm at all times.

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Practice Relaxation Techniques:

Try breathing exercises, yoga, massage therapy and visualization.

Eat Regularly:

Always eat a balanced diet, in regularly scheduled meals. Eating healthy can easily cure most of the ailments. Also drink a lot of fluids to keep your body hydrated for the whole day. Don’t skip meals by any chance.

Follow a Regular Sleep Schedule:

Sleep deprivation or even oversleeping might trigger headaches and migraine pains during pregnancy. Try and follow a fixed sleeping pattern to keep your biological clock intact.

Consider Biofeedback:

With this mind-body technique, you can control certain functions in the body — such as muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure — to prevent headaches or lessen migraine pain. If you’d like to try biofeedback to treat headaches during pregnancy, consult your doctor and go for a biofeedback therapist. It is a really effective way of getting rid of headaches. You can also try acupuncture, which is an absolutely safe method of curing headaches and relieving your pain.

Aromatherapy:

Aromatherapy oils are extremely effective against headaches. Put a few drops of peppermint or lavender oil on a tissue and take a deep breathe in. You can also rub one drop of each into your temples on the either side of forehead and then give a good massage. This reduces headache in no time!

Bach Flower Remedies:

If you are tired or under a lot of stress, the headache usually gets worse. The best remedy in such a situation is Bach flower remedy.

To get rid of exhaustion, put four drops of Rescue Remedy neat on your tongue, or try two drops of olive, another Bach Flower Remedy, dissolved in a glass of water.

Homeopathy:

Homeopathy treatments might be the best alternatives available. With absolutely no side effects these are highly recommended for the treatment of headaches and can be taken after consultation with a qualified physician.

Osteopathy and Chiropractic:

Osteopathy aims to realign your muscles, bones and joints. It can help with shoulder and neck pain, so if these are typical tension points for you, this might be worth a try.

The therapy of chiropractic can be extremely helpful in case of stubborn headaches. This technique uses spinal manipulation to ease the pain.

Reflexology :

In case of minor headaches, simple reflexology technique is highly advised. Massaging your big toes put pressure on the heads and the neck which help in getting rid of the headaches and migraine pains.

Though headaches during pregnancy are a common occurrence, they can get very irritating. To get rid of the pain quickly one shouldn’t act hastily though, as the medication might have some adverse effects on the body causing harm to the mother and the baby. Proper consultation should be done with the physician, and then medication should be started. Lastly, be patient with the headaches. They will be gone in some time; you know how to send them away now!

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