Headache and Pregnancy? Handy Tips for Relief

Almost everyone experiences headaches at some point, even when pregnant. In the first trimester of pregnancy, a lot is happening in your body, mainly due to hormonal changes. Many women experience tension headaches due to these changes, resulting in a nagging and painful sensation in the head or neck. That’s not a pleasant prospect. Fortunately, in most cases, headaches disappear on their own as you enter the second trimester of pregnancy. In this blog, we will tell you about the causes of pregnancy headaches and how you can try to prevent and relieve them.

Causes of headaches during pregnancy

Headaches and pregnancy often go hand in hand. Your body reacts to physical and hormonal changes. When you are newly pregnant, the chances are high that you will experience various ailments, such as nausea, fatigue, and headaches. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the cause of your headache since it’s caused by various factors. Here are the most common causes of headaches during pregnancy:

  • Pregnancy hormones – Our hormones take the lead during pregnancy, causing ailments such as headaches. Fluctuations in hormone levels directly affect the blood vessels in the brain, leading to headaches.
  • Tension and stress – Being pregnant is an emotional rollercoaster, and the many new responsibilities and expectations can cause tension and stress. This emotional pressure can manifest as headaches.
  • Fatigue -The fatigue associated with pregnancy often has a domino effect. Other ailments, such as nausea, can cause fatigue, which in turn can trigger headaches. Poor sleep posture, low sleep quality, or insufficient hours of sleep can also contribute to your headache.
  • Dehydration – Hydration is crucial during pregnancy. A lack of fluids can not only affect your overall well-being but also contribute to headaches.
  • Withdrawal symptoms – Quitting smoking or reducing caffeine intake during pregnancy is a healthy choice, but it can also cause withdrawal symptoms, including headaches. If you experience this, persevere until your body adjusts.

Usually, headaches (and other ailments) disappear in the second trimester. Your hormones have found a new balance, and your body has adapted to it. Note: there are many other common causes of headaches unrelated to your pregnancy. These include poor posture, flu, high blood pressure, injuries, side effects of medication, dental issues, improper nutrition, changes in eye prescription, and sinus congestion.

Tension headaches during pregnancy

Headaches come in various forms, including migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches. This type of headache is caused by tension in the neck, shoulders, and back and is also known as muscle tension headaches. It feels like a pressing, nagging, or dull pain on both sides of your head or the back of your head or neck. It’s also akin to a tight band around your head. Fatigue, dehydration, stress, and exertion worsen the headache. Sometimes it lasts for less than an hour, but unfortunately, the pain can persist for days. If you normally experience headaches regularly, the chances are high that you will have more during your pregnancy.

Migraines decrease

Migraine is a severe form of headache, often characterized by throbbing pain on one side of your head. It’s a kind of headache attack, often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and loud sounds. Do you suffer from migraines and are pregnant? Good news because women who regularly experience migraine attacks actually experience less headache during their pregnancy. Especially if migraines usually worsen around your menstruation.

Headache and preeclampsia

We don’t want to alarm you, but sometimes headaches during pregnancy can be a sign of preeclampsia, also known as pre-eclampsia. Its symptoms include severe headache, high blood pressure, protein in your urine, swelling in your face and hands, or problems with your liver and kidneys. About 5 to 10% of pregnant women experience this. If you suspect you have this, contact your doctor or midwife immediately.

Preventing headaches during pregnancy

Prevention is always better than cure. Do you want to ensure that you get through your pregnancy with as few headaches as possible? Then consider the following tips:

  • Drink plenty of water – Dehydration causes headaches, so drink at least 2 liters of water per day. If you’re thirsty, have a dry mouth and lips, or dark urine, you’re already too late; these are the first symptoms of dehydration.
  • Watch your diet – Low blood sugar causes headaches, so it’s wise to eat regularly. Avoid ‘fast sugars’ such as candy, pastries, white bread, dried fruits, etc. Did you know that certain foods can cause headaches? Chocolate, ice cream, and aged cheese are known for this. Also, it’s better to avoid foods high in salt and foods with too much tyramine (including soy sauce). If you think your diet is causing your headache, keep a food diary for a week.
  • Get some fresh air – Taking a breath of fresh air is always a good idea. Warm and stuffy spaces can cause headaches. For example, take a walk every day or do a yoga session on the beach. If you spend a lot of time indoors, ventilate the house and open a window.
  • Stay active – Daily exercise has a positive effect on your entire body, even when you’re pregnant. It reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and trains your muscles; thus reducing the chances of headaches.
  • Relax – Stress is one of the major causes of tension headaches. Avoid noise and crowds if you find yourself getting stressed quickly. Give yourself regular moments of rest.

Relieving headaches in pregnant women

If you still suffer from headaches during your pregnancy, don’t immediately reach for a painkiller. First, try a natural solution and give your body time to respond. Safe methods to relieve your headache include:

  • Massage your head with circular motions
  • Place a warm or cold compress on your forehead
  • Try relaxation exercises like meditation
  • Get a prenatal massage
  • Take a nap or lie down with your eyes closed
  • Avoid caffeine, as it narrows blood vessels
  • Drink a large glass of water
  • Try aromatherapy, with lavender or peppermint
  • Chiropractic care during pregnancy

At Avant Garde Chiropractic, we regularly help pregnant women alleviate ailments such as headaches and back pain. We focus not only on reducing discomfort but also on supporting a healthy pregnancy. Our chiropractic treatments are 100% safe for both you and your baby. 

Did you know you can come to us in all stages of pregnancy? Even in the last weeks before birth. 

Would you like to know more about chiropractic care during pregnancy and how we can help? Advice on your personal situation? Make an appointment for an initial consultation. You don’t need a referral from your doctor for this.


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