Headaches during pregnancy are one of the most common discomforts experienced by pregnant women which could occur at any time, but they tend to be more common during the first and third trimesters. Headaches during the first, second and third trimesters occur for different reasons.
Most headaches come and go, but others may be more bothersome or could be caused by other problems. This makes it necessary for you to keep track of the symptoms you are experiencing before and during pregnancy before you meet with your Doctor. The causes and types of headaches during pregnancy include the following:
TYPES OF HEADACHES DURING PREGNANCY:
Tension headaches are the most common types of headaches during pregnancy, as this type of headache is often due to stress, lack of sleep, caffeine withdrawal and depression. Symptoms include steady dull ache or squeezing pain on both sides of your head or at the back of your neck. They are common in the first trimester of your pregnancy.
Another type of headache is the Migraine Headache which affects about 18% of women at some points. This headache causes moderate to severe palpitating pain, normally on one side of the head. Other symptoms include vomiting, nausea, or sensitivity to noise and light. They can last from 4 to 72 hours if left untreated and could be aggravated by physical activity. They could be triggered by certain foods such as chocolate, yeast, yoghurt, alcohol and food preservatives Pregnant women mostly experience migraine headaches during the first trimester.
Some migraine patients also experience symptoms such as visual change, sensation of numbness, speech disturbances and weakness. These symptoms may start up an hour before migraine starts. Studies have been able to link migraine to complications later in pregnancy or during post-partum period. It is important you tell your Doctor if you have had an history of migraine or if you are having chronic headaches during pregnancy.
The third type of headache is Sinus Headache. Sinus headache usually feels like a pressure or pain around your eyes and I your forehead. They usually occur after a respiratory infection or cold and are not very common. Symptoms include coughing, fever, pain or pressure around the face, stuffy nose, sore throat and mucus drainage.
The fourth type of headache is the Cluster Headache. They are less common, and they are marked severe and sudden pain usually around the eye, sometimes with stuffy nose or teary eyes. They tend to occur around the same time each day, often a few hours after falling asleep, over weeks or months.
The fifth type of headache is Preeclampsia Headache. It is a rare type of headache which can affect pregnant women and occurs in the third trimester. These palpitating and persistent headaches are often accompanied with sudden weight gain, blurred vison, hand and face swelling and upper abdominal pain. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication where there is a sudden increase in blood pressure and swelling mostly in the hand, face and feet. It is a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention.
CAUSES OF HEADACHES DURING PREGNANCY
Your body experiences a surge of hormones and increase in blood volume during your first trimester. These two changes could cause more frequent headaches. These changes could be further aggravated by poor posture, stress and changes in your vision. An overall or dull headache could come with fatigue, stress and eye strain. Sinus headaches are more likely to occur because of runny nose and nasal congestion common in early pregnancy. Hunger and low blood sugar level could trigger headaches.
Women who suddenly stop taking their soda and early morning coffee could experience caffeine withdrawal headaches. Those who suffer nausea and vomiting early in pregnancy could become dehydrated thereby causing headaches. Other causes are due to lack of sleep, weight changes, poor nutrition and migraine symptoms such as sensitivity to light.
Second and Third Trimester:
Headaches during the second and third trimester of pregnancy tends to be due to poor posture and tension from carrying additional weight. Strain on your shoulders or necks can lead to muscle spams which could irritate the nerves at the back of your head. You could as well develop muscle tightening and spams from sleeping with your head in a poor position. Headaches during the third trimester can also be due to conditions in connection with high blood pressure.
HOW CAN HEADACHES DURING PREGNANCY BE TREATED?
- You should not take any pain reliever without asking your Doctor first. It is best you talk to your Doctor before you take any pain reliever and be sure to ask for the right dosage.
- If you are having tension or migraine headaches, you can spend a few minutes lying in a quiet and dark room. During break at work, you can close your eyes and put your feet up for 15 minutes. You can as well put a cold compress or an ice pack at the back of your neck for 20 minutes while you relax.
- If you have sinus headaches and you feel stuffed up, you can try steam inhalation for congestion relief. You can as well apply cold or hot compress to the achy spot and alternate for 30 seconds each for a total of ten minutes. You can do these four times a day. You should take hot fluids like hot tea, to keep the mucus flowing. You should also check with your Doctor to confirm if you have a sinus infection or if there is a safe nasal decongestant for you.
- Eat well: Low blood sugar level that results from skipping meals could trigger headache. Eating smaller, more frequent meals could help.
- Get Enough Rest: It is necessary you get enough rest during the first and third trimesters when you are likely to feel more tired.
- You should watch the food you eat: Certain foods like chocolate, cheese, food preservatives, alcohol and yeast can trigger headaches.
- Go slowly if you stop taking Coffee: Withdrawal headaches could be triggered if you cut back on coffee to fast. If you take a cup of coffee daily, you can reduce it to two cups or take a less caffeinated tea before you stop taking caffeine completely. The same applies to soda.
- Get some air: Avoid hot stuffy spaces and strong odors. Get some fresh air a couple of times daily and get good ventilation.
- Switch lighting: Windowless work spaces and fluorescent lighting could trigger headaches. So, just try and takes breaks from them as frequently as you can.
- Watch your Posture: Try not to slouch, slump or bend over when you work close to something for a long time. Mild/moderate exercise and stretching could help.
In conclusion, headaches during pregnancy are common due to the changes your body is passing through. However, you should see your Doctor if your headache persists for hours and you experience symptoms such as visual disturbances, sudden dramatic weight gain, puffiness in your face or hands and fever.
In rare situations, this could indicate an underlying condition such as a high blood pressur
e issue/complication. Take all medications prescribe by your Doctor. Eat, exercise well and go for your regular check-up. Most headaches during pregnancy can be treatable and well managed with the right care. Lastly, make sure you take your daily dose of EVERGREEN NATAL CARE as it is recommended to maintain a safe and healthy pregnancy.