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Dealing With Headaches in Pregnancy

by Katlyn Joy | February 19, 2014 9:28 AM
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Headaches are a very common complaint of pregnancy, especially in the first and last trimesters. In the first trimester, changes in hormone levels, increase in blood production and possibly lifestyle changes such as stopping coffee or soda consumption, can bring on caffeine withdrawal headaches are to blame. In the final trimester, it's likely the added weight that throws off your posture creating tension headaches.

No one likes just popping pills, but when you're pregnant you really try to avoid any medication unless absolutely necessary. If the following non-pharmaceutical options don't bring relief, talk to your physician about your headaches. You can usually take acetaminophen safely. Also, there are other drug options available, but you always need a doctor's go-ahead.

Coping with Headaches During Pregnancy

Try a cool compress. Sometimes just a cool pack will do the trick!

Relax! Give deep breathing, meditation or yoga a try.

Make sure you are well-hydrated. It's very easy to become dehydrated while pregnant, and a headache can be your body's way of telling you to drink up.

Hibernate. Go to a dark, quiet place and simply lie still for awhile. Sometimes that's all that's required to stop a headache in its tracks.

Sleep well, every night. Pregnancy can mess with your sleep, almost as much as a newborn. In the beginning, it may be nausea or mood swings, later on you may be so uncomfortable it's tough to get real rest. To make things easier, set a schedule for sleeping, and don't do anything in your bedroom except sleep and have sex.

Watch your diet. If headaches are chronic, keep a food diary to determine if you have a food trigger. Some common culprits include chocolate (horrors!), cheese, nuts or lunch meats.

De-stress your life. Instead of saying yes automatically, switch it up and refuse all extra responsibility unless there's a very compelling reason. Make time for some pleasant relaxation and enjoyment in each day. Have a friend you can vent to, or keep a journal.

Don't skip eating; that means snacking often. It's amazing how quickly a pregnant woman can feel the effects of low blood sugar. Just be sure to indulge in healthy snacks.

Exercise regularly. This raises your fitness level, will help you maintain better posture and boosts your good-feeling endorphin levels.

Get a massage. If not a professional one, enlist your man. If all else fails, do it yourself. It's best to do it after a nice warm shower, to help loosen up muscles.

Types of Headaches

Not all headaches are created equal. Some require special treatment and others are signs of serious complications, so pay attention to the patterns, types of pain and onset of your headaches.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are felt in areas such as around your eyes, in your cheeks and generally more in your facial area. These will throb more, especially when you bend over. Try cool compresses. If you feel unwell and the headaches persist, you should call your doctor as you may have a sinus infection.

Migraines

Migraines are common in pregnancy, and some women develop them for the first time while expecting. Migraines are intense headaches that are generally on one side of the head, can cause nausea and vomiting, may be preceded by an aura such as sensitivity to light or seeing lights. Talk to your doctor about combating these difficult types of headaches.

Underlying Conditions

A severe headache that comes on suddenly can signal preeclampsia. Other possible signs of preeclampsia include rising blood pressure, swelling especially of the face, seeing floating spots before your eyes, pain in the upper right section of your tummy, nausea and vomiting and sudden weight gain. Often a woman can develop this serious condition and may have only one or two, or possibly no symptoms she is aware of, since you may not realize your blood pressure is going up. Contact your physician immediately if you suspect preeclampsia or something just doesn't feel right to you.

Any of these symptoms also require immediate medical attention: headache after a fall or impact, vision changes, speech difficulties such as slurring, fever and stiff neck, lethargy or fatigue, or pain that is intense or strong enough to wake you.


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