Headaches During Pregnancy: Causes and Tips for Relief

Getting a headache over headaches during pregnancy is a both common problem and worry. Why is a headache during pregnancy common, what are the tips for relief and what should expectant moms know about headaches?

Causes of a headache during pregnancy

headache woman


Changes in hormone levels

If you’re no stranger to headaches before and during menstrual periods, then you might also have headaches during pregnancy – the fluctuations in the levels of hormones are the cause of the throbbing pain at your temples.


Insufficient exercise, fatigue, stress

Insufficient exercise or fatigue might be the cause of not only poor blood circulation in your brain, but also a stiff neck and frozen shoulders. These factors contribute to a headache during pregnancy. When you’re in the third trimester, lack of sleep could make you feel fatigued and make a headache worse.


Iron-deficiency anemia

If you don’t take enough iron for your baby and yourself, you might become anemic and will have a headache during pregnancy.


Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH)

Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) can cause headaches. High blood pressure makes the blood vessels in the brain to dilate and compress the nerves around them.

Tips for relief from headaches during pregnancy

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Headaches can be divided into “migraines” and “tension headaches”, though it’s not easy telling them apart.

A migraine is caused by the dilation of blood vessels and is characterized by nausea, frozen shoulders and painful throbbing in your temples. Tension headaches are caused by the contractions of blood vessels and is characterized by pain from the back of your head all the way down to your nape.

Try the following when you feel a headache coming on!


Keeping affected areas cold/warm

When you have a migraine, press a wet towel to the affected areas and keep them cold. The cold will cause your blood vessels to contract, and a pain will go. Heat will increase your pain, so avoid taking hot showers. Keep your room as dark as you can or wear a sleep mask when you can.

Tension headaches, on the other hand, are headaches caused when blood vessels contract, so you have to warm the affected areas up. Soak in a tub of hot water or take a warm shower, which will speed up your blood circulation and relax you.


Taking deep breaths and doing massages

Taking deep breaths has a good effect on a lack of oxygen, makes you relax and stimulates blood circulation. Also, if you massage your shoulder and nape to make your blood circulation faster, this will help to relieve the pain from tension headaches.


Taking in some caffeine

Caffeine? Yes, a cup of coffee could very well cure your migraine. Caffeine can cause your dilated blood vessels to contract. One cup of coffee, black tea or green tea a day is alright! Make sure not to drink too much and take in too much caffeine.

Headaches during pregnancy are here to stay

pregnant woman morning sickness headaches

Morning sickness can be one cause of a headache as well, so might become less painful when morning sickness improves as well. One thing to note is that having a headache while you’re having morning sickness could very well mean that you’re dehydrated. A serious case of dehydration can cause hyperemesis gravidarum (severe nausea), so please take note!

Headache during pregnancy is a sign of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH)

stethoscope doctor check-up

Having headaches might be a sign of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). PIH is usually caused by an unbalanced diet, so there’ll be a need to change one’s eating habits. If you’re diagnosed as PIH, you’ll be checked for your blood pressure and protein level in blood each time you go for a checkup. Make sure you have a talk with your practitioner if you’re having problems keeping your blood pressure down.

Dig out the root of your headaches

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Curing headaches starts with finding out the causes. Note down when you get headaches: Do you get them when it’s too bright/sunny? When you eat too much? When you have insufficient sleep? When you sleep too much? When you’re looking at your cell phone or the computer screen?

Noting down the times when your headache acts up might be a headache, but knowing when they occur can help you discover the cause of your headaches.

The causes of a headache might vary, but in general, taking time off to exercises and relax is important and can help reduce the frequencies or the severity of your headache. Once you’re into the second trimester, you’ll be able to do light exercises like prenatal yoga or prenatal swimming, and that will improve a blood circulation.

Can I take painkillers for headaches during pregnancy?

pregnant woman painkillers medicine

Even if you’re in the second or third trimester, there are painkillers that you cannot take. Medicine safe for use during pregnancy shouldn’t be taken based on your decision – show them to your practitioner before taking anything. Painkillers can make your headaches worse and could make you overlook problems when headaches are signs of other illnesses. Go to the hospital and get your medicine there if you have to!

Don’t let headaches become a headache

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Say goodbye to most painkillers, because it’s better for you to reduce your reliance on medicine during pregnancy. Instead, try to dig out the root of the problem and tackle your headache from there. Remember, don’t stress over it! Don’t let headaches become a headache; relaxing is also key to making your headache better!