Mothers report that they do experience more frequent headaches while they are pregnant. Are there reasons that headaches occur more often during pregnancy than at other times in a woman’s life? What can you do if you are having headaches during your pregnancy? Let’s take a look at several causes of pregnancy headaches and possible solutions.
The first suspect in causing pregnancy-related headaches may be pregnancy hormones. It is possible that estrogen and progesterone, in elevated amounts during pregnancy, may indeed trigger headaches more frequently. Did you know that you have nearly 10 times the amount of progesterone and 100 times the amount of estrogen at 40 weeks of pregnancy than a nonpregnant woman? If you have suffered from headaches at certain times in your menstrual cycle, then it stands to reason that pregnancy hormones may be responsible, at least in part, in causing your pregnancy headaches.
Nutritionists and other experts alike agree that a primary cause for all headaches is not getting enough fluid which can result in dehydration. In fact, whether you are pregnant or not, one of the first things you should do to outrule a headache caused by dehydration is to drink a few glasses of water. Dehydration can also lead to uterine contractions, so it is even more crucial if you are pregnant to make sure you are getting 6-8 glasses of fluid per day.
Another possible cause for pregnancy headaches could be sinus congestion. Congestion or nasal stuffiness is caused by the increase in vascularity in the nasal cavities. So it stands to reason that if you are pregnant and suffering from sinus congestion, it also may be a cause for some of your headaches.
Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH)
Pregnancy-related headaches that do not appear as a result of sinus congestion or dehydration, but instead are accompanied by blurred vision, dizziness, lightheadedness and even sudden swelling, may have a more serious cause. In fact, if you are noticing any of these symptoms, you should contact your care provider as quickly as possible. These could be indications of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). Your care provider will also be checking your blood pressure since another indicator of this pregnancy complication is elevated blood pressure. You may be asked to remain on left-sided bed rest until it is safe to go into labor.
It is also possible that your pregnancy headache could be caused by other factors such as stress or a lack of sleep. It is always a good idea to talk to your care provider if you are noticing frequent pregnancy headaches to help you determine the cause as well as gather ideas for treatment.
Ways to Cope with a Pregnancy Headache
Your treatment plan for a pregnancy headache may vary depending on the cause. Here are some possible methods to help you with a headache that is not related to PIH:
- Drink at least 1-2 glasses of water immediately
- Tylenol (ck with your provider for dosage)
- Cool cloth on your forehead
- Ask your spouse or a friend to massage your forehead, back of head, neck, shoulders and back
- Put your feet in a tub of warm water
- Lie down in a darkened room
- Use a humidifier if you have headaches caused by sinus congestion
- Try small amounts of caffeine
Do you have any other ways of coping with a pregnancy headache? Discuss it with us in the comments.