Signs of pregnancy like implantation bleeding or a high basal body temperature for more than 2 weeks indicate that changes are taking place in your body. One other telltale sign is something you might not have expected even in your wildest dreams: Headache.
Why does headache appear during early pregnancy and what are its causes? How can you combat it? Headache, although seemingly trivial, can both be literally and figuratively a pain when you aren’t able to keep your food down, focus on your work or do your household chores. So let’s see what you can do about it.
Headaches in early pregnancy: Causes
When the fertilized egg implants itself in the lining of the uterus, pregnancy is established. Once pregnancy is established, the corpus luteum secretes a large amount of hormones, and the conditions required for pregnancy to continue are continually created.
The sudden changes are not always well-received by the body, and as a result, fever, lethargy and other early symptoms of pregnancy appear. Headaches are, in fact, one of the early symptoms of pregnancy.
Headaches throughout early pregnancy?
Let’s begin from the end. In the early stage of pregnancy, you might be plagued by headaches. The science behind this says that changes in hormone levels are not the only reason for headaches. Rather, headache is the result of a combination of factors.
Firstly, morning sickness causes you to feel physically worn out. Secondly, having to be at rest more slows down blood circulation. Thirdly, a loss of appetite can result in insufficient intake of iron. All three factors also give rise to headache.
Although this differs from individual to individual, when the placenta is completed sometime between Week 12 and Week 15, hormone levels don’t change as abruptly, so your headache might take a turn for the better.
When morning sickness improves in the second trimester, from around Week 14 onward, you will feel physically better. However, the lack of exercise or the insufficient intake of iron could still continue to be the cause of your headaches.
Headaches in early pregnancy coupled with nausea
Although the degree of and the area where pain appears differ from individual to individual, the area around your eye and the temple might sometimes throb with pain. It might also feel as if the whole back of your head down to the nape feels like it is being squeezed, and you might feel like puking.
Morning sickness hits some moms from as early as Week 4 onward. If you’re wondering why you’re having a headache in addition to nausea, you could very well be pregnant.
Early pregnancy headaches mean a sign of pregnancy?
You might feel like a piece of driftwood set adrift in the sea with all the hormonal changes going on in your body before your menstrual period starts, but having headaches doesn’t always mean you’re pregnant. There are also other signs and symptoms like implantation bleeding and a high body basal body temperature for 2 weeks that point to a pregnancy, and some of these signs should also be present.
When you see more than just a few of these signs and symptoms present, then it’s highly likely that you’re pregnant! As these signs and symptoms are difficult to differentiate from the symptoms of flu or the usual pre-menstrual period symptoms, try not to be too anxious or too excited until you are able to confirm it with a pregnancy test kit.
How to best deal with headaches in early pregnancy
The ways to fight headache is different depending on the type of pain you have. First, check the signs carefully. If your temples are throbbing, you’re probably having a migraine. If the back of your head down to your nape is hurting, as if you’re wearing a tight band around your head, then you most likely have a tension headache.
Although migraines come in bursts of pain, they occur because of the dilation of blood vessels, so using something warm to fight migraines is a big no-no. Put an ice pack around the area, find a place to rest and make sure you get enough sleep.
Although you could possibly have a pile of work waiting for you to do, let it be, and let your body rest up before you take on your responsibilities again. Until your condition takes a turn for the better, try to do everything in moderation. Stress can aggravate your headaches so you might want to adopt a Let-It-Go attitude and relax.
Caffeine causes blood vessels to contract and you might be thinking that this is a good way to treat migraines, but remember! You should be cutting down on your intake of caffeine now that you’re pregnant – a cup or two a day should be the maximum.
Dealing with a tension headache
When you feel pain in the nape of your neck, this is not a normal headache – you might feel as if you’re wearing a tight band around your head. This is a tension headache, and it is caused by the blood vessels contracting.
When you stretch or massage the upper half of your body or take a hot shower at the end of the day, it might just get better. Warm the affected parts with a towel and take deep breaths – that will do the trick.
Is it OK to take headache medication in early pregnancy?
If you get a positive on the pregnancy test kit, talk to your doctor about any medication you can take to help ease the pains of your headache. When headaches worsen, consult your doctor. Refrain from taking any over-the-counter medication and be sure to check thrice before you take any medication if necessary.
Although most drugs or medication should be safe for use during pregnancy, it’s best not to take any chances. It’s better to be safe than sorry – check the risks of taking certain medications with your doctor before taking them.
Headaches in early pregnancy: When to go to the hospital
In the early stages of pregnancy, hormone levels change drastically and although you look the same physically, dramatic changes are taking place in you right now. You might feel physically tired, and especially sensitive to things around you.
If your workload doesn’t decrease, juggling work, housework or just life itself might drain you of the last vestiges of energy you have and give you more stress. So, if you feel a headache coming on, lie down and rest. You’ll need to cultivate the habit of resting when necessary.
Headaches might not always be a result of physical causes – your headaches could be a physical manifestation of the emotional stress you are having because of pregnancy.
One thing to note is that, if you have had a chronic headache pre-pregnancy, or if you have headaches because of chronic conditions like high blood pressure, you might want to head to the hospital as soon as you can and get yourself checked! Nip the problem in the bud, and don’t let your headache become the cause of your headache.