Headaches During Pregnancy
September 28, 2020It’s no secret that pregnancy has its share of uncomfortable symptoms, but many expecting moms may not be aware that headaches are often associated with pregnancy. Although not usually serious, headaches can sometimes be an early indicator of preeclampsia or other serious conditions.1 If you are experiencing frequent headaches during pregnancy, or headaches that are more painful than usual, it’s important to talk to your doctor. In the meantime, the following facts may help you understand why you are experiencing headaches and provide some information on how to help ease their discomfort.
What causes headaches during pregnancy?
Headaches are among the most common discomforts that moms experience during pregnancy. They can occur at any time during pregnancy; however, they are more commonly experienced during the first and third trimesters.1
Your body gets a surge of hormones and greatly increases its blood production during the first trimester of pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy are linked to headaches due to changes in estrogen levels.2 Estrogen and progesterone play essential roles in regulating your menstrual cycle and pregnancy, and may also be linked to regulating pain, though researchers are still studying this.3
Headaches during pregnancy may also be triggered by:
- Lack of sleep
Headaches and Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a serious and potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure.4 Mild cases of preeclampsia may not produce any significant symptoms, other than high blood pressure and protein being present in the urine. However, a more severe case of preeclampsia often causes severe headaches, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, nausea or vomiting, pain in the upper right abdomen, shortness of breath, and infrequent urination.4 If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
How to Prevent Pregnancy Headaches
If your headaches are generally mild, and you are not experiencing any other symptoms that may be related to a more serious issue, the following tips may help reduce your headaches:
- Get more sleep/improve sleep quality. Pregnancy can be uncomfortable throughout the day as well as during the night. Try different sleeping positions or drinking caffeine-free herbal tea before bedtime to promote natural sleep. Avoid sleeping with the TV on or looking at mobile device screens just before bed, as the blue light inhibits your brain’s production of melatonin (the sleep hormone).
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water and consuming foods with high water content throughout the day can help your body stay hydrated and keep headaches at bay. However, you may want to avoid drinking water just before bedtime, as frequent trips to the bathroom can disturb your sleep (see above).
- Lower your stress level. Stress has a powerful impact on the human body. The more stress you can eliminate from your life, the better, especially during pregnancy. Ways to beat stress differ from person to person. Some expecting moms practice yoga or meditate. Others may treat themselves to prenatal massages or aromatherapy. Whatever you do to help decrease your stress level, make sure it is safe for you and your baby.
When to Contact Your Doctor
You should call your doctor right away if you experience headaches with any of the following symptoms1:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Infrequent urination
- Swelling in your hands and face
- Sudden or drastic weight gain
Also, do not take any medications or start any type of home remedy without discussing it with your doctor.
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is sponsored by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.