How To Safely Deal With Headaches During Pregnancy

by Scary Mommy
Originally Published: 
pregnancy headaches
LaylaBird/ Getty

Before you even feel your baby kicking, you may start feeling like someone is constantly kicking you… in the head. Pregnancy headaches are a super common symptom and some women experience them in all three trimesters — but that doesn’t make them any less awful to deal with. Fortunately, you don’t have to take them lying down (though you might prefer to be lying down).

Ahead, safe solutions that could give you some relief and the headache symptoms that you should never ignore.

What causes pregnancy headaches?

There are many reasons why your head may be pounding when you’re pregnant. First of all, there are the usual suspects: increased blood flow in your body and pregnancy hormones.

But your headache could also be caused by stress — after all, you’re only literally making a brand new human. It could also be caused by lack of sleep (pregnancy insomnia is real); low blood sugar and dehydration could also be culprits, especially if you’re suffering from bad morning sickness. Or it could be some fun combination of all of the above. Pregnancy is a joy, isn’t it?

And of course, if your routine used to include 5 to 6 cups of coffee a day (we relate) your headaches may be a result of caffeine withdrawal.

What about pregnancy headaches in the third trimester?

Haven’t gotten any headaches before, but are suddenly feeling your head pulsate in your third trimester? It could be all the reasons above, but it could also be all that pregnancy weight screwing up with your posture and giving you tension headaches.

Pregnancy headaches in the third trimester could also be connected to another pregnancy condition: preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is high blood pressure, usually diagnosed in your third trimester. It can be really dangerous for both you and your baby, so if your headaches are accompanied by blurry vision, pain in the upper right abdomen, and swelling in the hands, call your doctor right away.

What are some natural and safe remedies for pregnancy headaches?

  • Cold or warm compresses: Try a warm compress or a cool one, and see what works better on your head. Also, try to put pressure on your temples or the bridge of your nose if you’re having tension headaches.
  • Plenty of sleep: You may feel like you and sleep are in a long-distance relationship right now, and you know you’re gonna be apart for many more months and possibly years. But getting into a regular sleep routine may help you catch some extra ZZZs and alleviate the pounding headaches.
  • Lots of small meals: If you feel like snacking all the time, treat yourself! Having a lot of little meals a day can help to keep your blood sugar level higher, and, as a bonus, will help with that awful pregnancy heartburn you might have.
  • Get your drink on: We’re talking about water! Lots of it.
  • Get a prenatal massage: Treat yourself. A massage could help loosen the neck muscles and the stress that is giving you terrible headaches.
  • Go to a dark room: You and your gorgeous pregnant glow definitely belong in the spotlight, but your head would prefer to be away from any flashing lights. So keep the lights low.
  • A warm/cool bath or shower: Just like a warm or cool compress, a nice shower can help relieve some of that tension that’s been giving you headaches.
  • Exercise: Exercise may be the last thing on your mind right now (if you can even think of anything with that headache), but working out can definitely help. Try some prenatal yoga, or maybe going for a swim. The cool water in the pool could also help your throbbing head.
  • Avoid potential headache triggers: We know chocolate can give you a lot of joy, but it can also trigger your headache. Try eliminating it and some other triggers from your diet to see if your headaches get better. That means staying away from yogurt, aged cheesed, preserved meats, peanuts, breads with fresh yeast, and sour cream.

What kind of medicine can I take for pregnancy headaches?

Unfortunately, when it comes to pregnancy headaches, there’s only one medicine that’s considered 100 percent safe — good old classic acetaminophen (that’s Tylenol for you fancy ladies who prefer the brand medicine).

As always, you should discuss any medications you may be taking with your doctor. And definitely reach out to your doctor if your pregnancy headaches get too hard to bear.

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