Whether minor or severe, a headache is often distracting and makes it difficult to concentrate on daily activities. Pregnancy might change your normal course of pain relief because of the risk medications pose to your baby. Some pain relievers are acceptable, while others are best left in the medicine cabinet until after your baby is born. Some techniques give you a more natural approach to pain relief.
The baby’s gestational age plays a role in your headache. Many women experience more headaches during the first trimester from all of the hormones, increased blood flow, lack of sleep and stress. The third trimester might also cause increased headaches because of poor posture or muscle tension from the growing belly.
Identifying the specific cause of your headache helps you treat it better. If you are prone to headaches, keep track of your activities and all of the foods you eat. Look for patterns in the hours leading up to headaches. When you figure out your headache triggers, you can better avoid those things to prevent headaches before they start. Trying a more natural approach to headache relief first helps you avoid pain relievers in some cases. If the natural options don’t work, consider moving on to a safe pain reliever.
Relaxation techniques might help relieve a stress headache. Try deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, meditation or a massage. Exercise might help you reduce your headaches overall, but avoid working out too hard, which could make a headache worse. If you haven’t eaten in a while, eat a quick snack to boost your blood sugar. Dehydration can also cause headaches, so drink a glass of water with your snack. Showers, baths and compresses are other options for headache relief. Cold generally works better for migraines, while warmth works better for tension headaches.
Many pain relievers that typically treat headaches are considered risky during pregnancy; they could adversely affect your baby. Acetaminophen is the one pain reliever that is often recommended by physicians, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Always follow the dosing directions on the label, especially when you are pregnant. Unless your physician gives you approval, avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen and migraine medications.
Some headaches during pregnancy warrant a call to your health care provider because they can indicate a more severe condition. Preeclampsia is a condition that sometimes includes headaches as a symptom. The condition presents a serious risk to you and your baby. If you experience headaches that feel different than your typical headaches, give your doctor a call. Other symptoms accompanying a headache, such as blurred vision, numbness, drowsiness, fever, stiff neck or sinus pressure, might also indicate an underlying health concern that needs treatment.