Is pregnancy headache “normal”?

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The causes can be many, from the most general to problems related to high blood pressure. Usually the disorder is occasional and passes spontaneously or with simple natural remedies, while it will be necessary to consult a doctor for diagnosis and prescription in case the problem persists

Headache and migraine are very common pains in the female population in general and depend on many and different factors. However , most of the headaches that affect women are caused by hormonal changes related to the reproductive cycle. Let’s see in detail what are the causes of this disorder during pregnancy.

Migraine in pregnancy: why?

More than half of women who suffer from migraines report an association with the menstrual cycle ( menstrual migraine ) . The disorder usually occurs immediately before the period and lasts for the first two to three days, following the natural drop in the level of estrogen that occurs during the period.
The same phenomenon of fluctuating hormone levels can cause headaches in pregnancy (and in menopause) .

Headache in pregnancy: the causes

The causes of the headache can be generic (fatigue, sleep deprivation, emotional tension, muscular tension …) and recur during gestation exactly as outside of it; on the contrary, in some ways a physiological “fragility” connected to the change due to the pregnancy can make the woman less resistant to stress.
The most common causes are listed below .

Emotional tension

There is a known correlation between headaches and tension in the muscles of the neck or face, which can easily contract due to anxiety and stress. The work of adaptation to the change of life connected to the pregnancy state can have an repercussion on this aspect at the origin of the problem.

Muscle tensions

Even the postural adaptation that occurs in women due to the increasing volume of the abdomen, if not adequately compensated, can generate tension on the dorsal and cervical muscles, with the same consequence. We also talk about it in our article on back pain in pregnancy .

Although it is a rather common disorder, in cases of severe headache during pregnancy it is always important to consult your doctor ; in fact the causes could be many, including some problems related to high blood pressure.

Headache in early pregnancy

Frequent headaches in pregnancy , also associated with nausea and sometimes vomiting , occur mainly in the early gestational period . The phenomenon can also be traced back to the increase in the volume of the blood circulation in the brain , in turn associated with the physiological expansion of the blood volume that occurs in this period.

In general, the headaches all ‘ beginning of pregnancy early weeks ) is very common in both women were suffering even before this disorder (with the beginning of the pregnancy will cause a deterioration or an improvement in their situation) both in women who have never suffered from it.

Normally this phenomenon lasts a few weeks , then improves or disappears completely during the last six months, without having harmed either the mother or the baby. The disorder can reappear during the puerperium and breastfeeding; however, we must consider that, even if it is not dangerous at all, it can compromise the maternal well-being.

Headache in pregnancy: the remedies

If the disorder is occasional and if it passes or improves spontaneously or with the simple natural remedies proposed below, there is no need to worry. But let’s answer a few questions first. 

What to take for headaches during pregnancy?

Medication should be avoided during pregnancy, especially in the first three months. Conditions such as transient pains or colds do not require drug therapy.

Can you take tachipirina for headaches in pregnancy?

Paracetamol can be used sporadically (self-medication) against pain. 

What to do if pregnancy headache does not go away?

It is always necessary to consult a doctor for diagnosis and prescription if the problem persists , if the headaches are frequent, if the pain is intense, if you have to take different medications including supplements or any preparations including herbs. In particular, it is important that pregnant women with a history of migraine, especially those already in therapy, consult their doctor because they may need to “adjust” their medications (change their dosage).

Can headaches in pregnancy be prevented?

Even if there are no sure indications for prevention, we can still try to avoid the triggers of headaches. A “headache diary”, that is, the description of the event or related events could help identify the triggers.

Natural remedies for headaches in pregnancy

  • If certain foods or smells have caused headaches in the past, it is wise to avoid them. 
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Try a walk or other moderate aerobic exercise initially .
  • Adopt healthy ways to deal with stress factors and its management, such as practicing relaxation techniques . You can try breathing exercises, yoga, massage and relaxation through visualization exercises.
  • Eat regularly, with scheduled meals and maintain a healthy diet; prefer small frequent meals.
  • Drink a lot to prevent dehydration.
  • Follow a regular sleep schedule . Deprivation or excess sleep could contribute to headaches during pregnancy.

Headache in pregnancy: the second trimester

Headache can sometimes be a symptom of preeclampsia, a condition that affects some pregnant women, usually in the second trimester, starting around 20 weeks, or shortly after giving birth. Preeclampsia can lead to serious complications if it is not monitored and treated.
For this it is necessary to contact the specialist if the following symptoms appear during pregnancy:

  • severe headache ;
  • hypertension;
  • vision problems, such as blurring, seeing flashing lights, discomfort at seeing light
  • pain under the ribs;
  • He retched;
  • sudden increase in swelling of the face, hands, feet or ankles.

In any case, persistent and recurrent headaches, especially if associated with hypertension, can be the signal of preeclampsia.
It is therefore very important that blood pressure in pregnancy remains normal, i.e. equal to or less than 135/85. Normally, it is sufficient to check it during the scheduled visits (if necessary, the treating doctor or midwife will also suggest a home check-up), the frequency of which is established as needed.
A correct measurement of blood pressure must be carried out:

  • in a sitting or semi-lying position, with legs extended, after a few minutes of rest, away from coffee or smoke;
  • with the arm (usually the left one) extended and supported, at heart level;
  • mid-morning and / or mid-afternoon;
  • noting the time and blood pressure.

If the blood pressure is greater than 135/85, a second measurement should be taken after a few minutes. If the value is confirmed, contact the specialist.

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