Suffering From Headaches During Pregnancy? Here’s Why You Get Pregnancy Headaches, And How To Get Rid Of A Headache
Headaches are a common pregnancy symptom. They are also one that a lot of women will suffer from, especially in early pregnancy. However, the good news is they usually improve as your pregnancy progresses.
Why Do I Get Headaches When I’m Pregnant?
There are lots of different factors that can cause headaches in pregnancy. Headaches can be caused by the hormonal changes that take place during early pregnancy. Tension headaches can also be caused by lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep, stress, dehydration or even the effects of giving up or cutting down on caffeine.
Migraines, which are unusually painful headaches, can cause nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to sound and light. These can be made worse by pregnancy hormones, or they may actually improve during pregnancy.
How To Get Rid Of A Headache In Pregnancy
Pregnancy headaches won’t have any effect on your baby, but they can be painful and uncomfortable for you.
You can take paracetamol if you're pregnant, but you should take it for the shortest possible time and it’s best to seek advice first. Speak to your pharmacist, midwife or GP about taking paracetamol during pregnancy. Note that the majority of painkillers, including codeine and ibuprofen are not recommended for use during pregnancy.
You can also use a chilled gel pack or a cold compress on your head to help ease a headache. You can also use a damp flannel, or chill a wet cloth in the fridge.
It can also help to identify the triggers of headaches to try and cut them down or eliminate them before you get a headache.
Headaches can be caused by dehydration for example, so make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid drinks that may dehydrate you, such as caffeine or fizzy drinks.
Headaches in pregnancy can also be caused by lack of sleep, so make sure you get plenty of rest. If you’re struggling to sleep, read our post on insomnia in pregnancy.
They can also be caused by stress. Mindfulness, meditation and yoga can all help you relax.
When To Worry About A Headache And When To Seek Help For Headaches During Pregnancy
While headaches can be common during pregnancy, the NHS website states that you should call your maternity unit, GP or NHS 111 if you have:
- A severe headache
- Problems with vision, such as blurring or seeing flashing lights
- Pain just below your ribs
- A sudden increase in swelling of your face, hands, feet or ankles
Any of these could be signs of pre-eclampsia and need to be checked immediately. Pre-eclampsia, can lead to serious complications not monitored and treated. It usually starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Are Headaches A Sign Of Pregnancy?
For some women, headaches can be a sign of early pregnancy. If you think you might be pregnant, read our post on ten early pregnancy symptoms.
Once You’ve Read Our Post On Headaches During Pregnancy, Read These:
- 12 pre-natal nutrition tips from health journalist Lucy Gornall
- Read our Pregnacare A-Z guide to pregnancy and nutrition
Please note that the contents of this post are not intended as medical advice. Always consult with your midwife and / or GP if you have any specific medical queries.