Headache during Pregnancy: What You Need to Know


You’re not alone if you are experiencing headaches during pregnancy. A medical report tells that 39% of pregnant and postpartum women experience headaches. Though headaches are nothing to be alarmed about, they are a real risk during pregnancy. Every headache during pregnancy might trigger or worsen pre-existing headaches you already have. The thing to note, however, is that every pregnant person gets headaches. After all, every pregnant body experiences some pain.

They range in severity, though some common symptoms are dizziness, nausea, extreme fatigue, insomnia, blurred vision, and just feeling out of it.

But if you’ve been given the all-clear from your doctor to take certain over-the-counter and prescription medications while pregnant, then it’s safe to assume your headaches won’t pose any kind of health risks to you or your baby.

Unfortunately, because of your frequent and severe headaches, it can be hard to just lay down and rest. If you’re constantly dealing with the pain and hoping to have a good night’s sleep.

What are the type of headaches one experiences during pregnancy?

Most of the headaches during pregnancy are primary headaches. This means that headache pain happens by itself. Primary headaches include:

Tension headaches

A common kind of headache, found in most of the women during pregnancy, is referred to as tension headache. These headaches are characterized by severe throbbing pain around a nerve root (which is usually on one side of the head, sometimes around both sides), a dull ache, or nausea. Tension headaches are a common headache type during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and increased fluid in your body. A tension headache is known as a tension-type headache and can be caused by poor sleep or a stressful situation.

Migraine headaches

Migraines are very painful and can last for several hours or even days. 1 in 10 women will get migraine headaches during pregnancy. A Harvard study found that nearly one in ten women (8.3%) had migraines during pregnancy. In a study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain, nearly 1 in 4 women who experience migraines were pregnant. Numerous studies have found that migraine attacks are more common in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headache is a neurovascular headache syndrome. It occurs with a circadian and circannual periodicity. Cluster headaches are very painful and last for weeks or months. The attacks are not provoked by physical or emotional factors; cluster headaches cannot be diagnosed based on a person’s daily activities or self-reported symptoms.

What is a postpartum headache?

Postpartum headaches are a common headache type that most pregnant or breastfeeding women experience after giving birth. The headaches are often caused by decreased blood flow to the brain.

What causes headaches during pregnancy?

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy

Most headaches in pregnancy are caused by hormonal shifts. As your estrogen and progesterone levels soar, so does your risk of headaches. You may be more likely to have more intense ones if you’re expecting during the PMS and menopause seasons. Migraines, a rare type of headache that doesn’t follow hormonal changes, are more common in pregnancy.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to headaches, and many headaches can be relieved with over-the-counter pain medication.

The following list looks at some of the more common causes of headaches during pregnancy.

1. Food cravings

Some women get headaches because they are craving a particular food.

Food cravings are a common cause of headaches during pregnancy. Food cravings are caused by heightened emotions and sensory stimulation. The physical changes that occur during pregnancy can trigger food cravings and sometimes cause nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms.

2. Hormonal changes

Some women get headaches when they are pregnant because their hormone levels change. The changes cause the menstrual cycle to temporarily stop. As well as being a source of painful headaches, this can cause some women to feel less hungry, tired, or irritable.

Changes in levels of hormones also cause changes in the blood and other fluids, such as saliva, which may contribute to frequent headaches.

3. Change in breathing patterns

Some women experience headaches in pregnancy because they are experiencing breathing changes. In the fourth month of pregnancy, the uterus expands, changing the position of the baby.

The growing weight of the baby pushes against the uterus, making it hard to breathe. This means that some women may find that they are shorter of breath, and this causes them to feel the need to take a quick breath when they are not aware that they need to.

Pregnancy may also cause tension or stress in the neck and shoulders, which could cause a headache. If you find that you are having more difficulty breathing, or the headaches start to get worse, it is a good idea to speak to your doctor.

4. Excess weight

Being overweight can put extra strain on the heart, which can in turn cause headaches.

Being overweight increases the pressure on your internal organs and blood vessels, making them work harder. This is called cardio-respiratory muscle fatigue.

People who are obese are more likely to develop migraines. They are also more likely to develop hypertension and diabetes, which are associated with headaches.

What are the symptoms of headaches during pregnancy?

The most obvious symptom of a headache is a throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. It can be dull, throbbing, shooting or in some cases, an even more severe form known as a migraine.

Migraines are very painful and can last for several hours or even days.

The symptoms are sometimes also accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light or sound.

Other symptoms of a headache may include a ringing in the ears, nausea, tiredness, sensitivity to noise, hunger, and poor concentration.

How is a tension headache different from a migraine?

Migraines are sometimes a precursor to a tension headache and are caused by changes in the blood supply to the brain. Migraine is sometimes a precursor to a tension headache, and are caused by changes in the blood supply to the brain.

A tension headache feels like a regular headache, but may also be accompanied by muscle and joint pain and may be very painful.

Migraines are more widespread than tension headaches and can be caused by something other than the hormone melatonin or any sleep disruption.

Foods to take to decrease headaches

Low levels of vitamins and minerals may cause headaches. Eating an unhealthy diet, or not drinking enough fluids, can cause headaches. People who regularly drink alcohol also are more likely to have a headache, due to its effect on the body.

Vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in keeping the brain healthy. They are essential for keeping the nerves in the brain and eyes strong and healthy.

When to see a doctor

Women who have been pregnant in the past or have unexplained headaches should see their doctor for a check-up. These headaches may indicate that they have a more serious condition, such as pregnancy-related migraines.

If a pregnant woman has unexplained headaches that are not controlled by medication, she should also see a doctor for a full evaluation.

Bottom Line

Headaches are common during pregnancy and in normal life also. Due to the significant changes taking place in our body headaches might be caused during pregnancy. By proper treatment one can reduce the effect of headaches. Taking all the proper medicines one can get rid of these uncomfortable headaches.