Pregnancy headaches are a common complaint of pregnant women. They are usually experienced during the first and last trimesters of pregnancy and that’s because pregnancy causes changes in the pregnant woman’s hormone balance.
Early pregnancy headaches are often caused by such hormonal changes. Late pregnancy headaches, on the other hand, are often caused by the stress and tension induced by the weight of the baby.
Dealing With Headaches During Pregnancy
There are two main types of pregnancy headaches. A pregnancy headache can be a migraine headache or a tension headache. These two types of headache have different symptoms. Nevertheless, they have the same triggers in pregnant women.
The triggers of migraine and tension headaches during pregnancy include stress, sugar level fluctuations, caffeine withdrawal, dehydration, depression, and lack of sleep.
Migraine headaches are characterized by a pulsating or throbbing pain in one or both sides of the head. Light and sound sensitivity, vomiting and nausea are other symptoms of migraine headaches. Migraine headache symptoms worsen with physical activity.
Women who regularly suffer from migraine headaches experience either an increased or reduced frequency of migraine attacks after they get pregnant. Some pregnant women develop migraine headaches even if they had never had a migraine before they became pregnant.
Migraine-induced pregnancy headaches are usually a result of the hormonal changes that take place in a pregnant woman’s body. The increased blood volumes of pregnant women can be another reason. Blood vessels expand when blood volume increases. The dilation of the blood vessels in the head is one of the causes of migraine headaches.
Migraine headaches during pregnancy are also triggered by glaring lights and blaring sounds. Pregnant women are also particularly sensitive to odors and smells. Pregnant women often find themselves repelled by scents they used to tolerate well in the past. A whiff of a hated smell can induce a migraine headache in pregnant women.
Psychological factors also cause migraine headaches during pregnancy. Pregnant women, depressed or excited as they are about all the changes taking place in their body, may find it difficult to sleep. Lack of sleep can trigger a migraine headache during pregnancy.
Migraine headaches during pregnancy are difficult to cure. Most migraine medications are contraindicated during pregnancy. Prevention is therefore the best cure for a migraine-induced pregnancy headache.
Pregnant women should avoid foods that are known to be migraine triggers. Such foods include chocolate, coffee, aged cheeses, and wines. Pregnant women should also maintain regular sleeping hours. Women who are pregnant need a lot of sleep. They should not overdo it, however. Getting too much sleep, just like missing sleep, can trigger a migraine headache.
Early Pregnancy Headaches Or Tension Headaches
A tension headache is one of the most common types of headaches. The activation mechanism of tension headaches is unclear. Nevertheless, it is generally assumed that tension headaches are caused by changes in neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
Tension headaches start from the neck and the back of the head. They cause a feeling of tightness around the head. They are characterized by a feeling of tension or tightness in the neck, shoulders and jaws.
Tension headaches are usually resolved by taking simple analgesics or pain relievers. Pregnant women should not self-medicate, however. Just like migraine headaches, prevention is also the best cure for tension headaches during pregnancy. Pregnant women should avoid the known triggers of tension headaches. Such triggers include lack of sleep, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Pregnant women should also engage in simple physical activities that will strengthen their muscles and improve their balance. They should also develop good posture. Pregnant women who have good balance and posture can avoid tension headaches caused by the weight of the baby.
Pregnancy headaches are difficult to treat and cure. Most pain relievers are contraindicated during pregnancy. In case of recurring or chronic pregnancy headaches, consult your doctor. Do not take any medication without your doctor’s advice and approval.
Episodic attacks of pregnancy headaches may be treated without medication. First, lie down and rest in a cool, quiet and dark room. Get someone to give you a neck and shoulder massage. Apply a cold compress at the back of your head or forehead. Finally, try to get some sleep. Pregnancy headaches usually go away after a good rest.
Always consult with your doctor or a certified professional trainer before undertaking any exercises, treatments, or dietary supplements.