On top of the morning sickness, insomnia, and body pain, the last thing you need to deal with is migraines during pregnancy. But, unfortunately, they are a common ailment those expecting will have to experience.
These painful headaches aren’t like any other, leaving you debilitated for the rest of the day, or longer. Even after they pass, the fatigue you feel can affect you for days to come.
Like many of the discomforts you’ll experience while pregnant, there are some ways to prevent migraines, along with some tricks to help them pass quicker.
We’ll also cover the topic of whether migraines during pregnancy are cause for concern, and justify a doctor's visit. Before we get into all that, let’s distinguish between a typical headache and a migraine.
What is a migraine, and what differentiates it from a typical headache?
A migraine is a form of headache, but not just any headache. Its incredibly severe and comes in waves, typically accompanied by nausea and increased sensitivity to sound and light.
The sensations you feel from a migraine differ from a typical headache, which is usually referred to as a “tension headache”.
With a normal headache, you’ll feel like your head is being squeezed, as your muscles around your head and neck tighten up and contract. The pain is dull, mild to moderate, and lasts up to a few hours at most.
A migraine on the other hand is a throbbing pain on the front and side of the head in particular. This localized pain is unrelenting, lasting from a few hours up to a few days, commonly with that dizziness, blurred vision known as the “aura”.
What causes migraines during pregnancy?
If you experienced migraines prior to your pregnancy, you are more likely to experience them while pregnant. Even if you’ve never had a migraine, your chances are higher due to the changing of your hormones during pregnancy.
But your changing hormones aren’t the only thing responsible for this. There are plenty of other triggers that can contribute to migraines, including but not limited to:
- Stress (both physical and emotional)
- Blood sugar drops
- Higher body temperatures
- Nasal congestion
Any combination of these triggers can result in a migraine. But for women who experienced migraines in tandem with their menstrual cycle prior to pregnancy, we actually have good news!
Your migraines may decrease in intensity and frequency as your pregnancy progresses. Since estrogen will be at a high level throughout your 9 months, this trigger won’t affect you as much.
When should I worry about migraines during pregnancy?
While they definitely suck, most migraines are not necessarily dangerous, even while you’re pregnant.
But, migraines & headaches at key points of your pregnancy can be cause for concern, as they can indicate a serious underlying condition. After your first migraine you should check in with your doctor.
Research has shown that in rare cases, migraine throughout pregnancy can be an indication that you are at heightened risk of preeclampsia, hypertension, and other vascular disorders. Your doctor will help you assess other risk factors that can provide more insight into your degree of risk for developing these conditions.
How to prevent migraines during pregnancy
There are a few ways you can lower your chances of developing a migraine in the first place. The best way is to simply cut down on stress.
This common migraine trigger seems unavoidable during pregnancy, but you can help yourself out by taking on fewer responsibilities, and practicing meditation, yoga, etc.
The more exercise you can get, the better. Along with helping to prevent migraines, it will help with so many other aspects of your life.
It's important to note though, attempting to exercise while you are already experiencing a migraine is a bad idea, as it will exacerbate the symptoms.
We also recommend you avoid other common triggers of migraines: loud noises, glaring lights, excessive heat, certain foods, etc. These are typically things you want to avoid during pregnancy as it is. Some of the most common food triggers include:
- Foods filled with preservatives, nitrates, or aspartame
Keep a migraine journal to prevent future occurrences
After your first migraine, its a really good idea to jot down any possible triggers to help you prevent the likelihood of experiencing more. These can include types of food you ate that day, activities you did, changes in weather.
You should also take note of when the migraine first came on, how long it lasted, and the symptoms you felt throughout your experience. You can use all of this information in your fight against future migraines.
But even if you follow every prevention tip in the book, sometimes a migraine is inevitable. Here are some recommendations to help you feel more comfortable while experiencing one, and get rid of it.
How do I get rid of a migraine while pregnant?
Your initial reaction to a migraine may be to reach for the ibuprofen, but hold off on any OTC medication for now.
Some of these remedies will prove more fruitful, and you won’t have to worry about putting anything into your belly with your baby.
Relax in a dark, quiet room
Its not enough to just lie down on the couch and watch TV in most cases, as screens will only make matters worse. Instead, close the blinds and turn off the lights and just rest.
You can try and sleep it off, and use a cold compress on your neck and/or forehead for even better relief. This will help with the hot flashes you may feel from a migraine.
If approved by your doctor, take a Tylenol (acetaminophen)
Assuming you’ve already discussed a migraine with your doctor and they’ve given you the green light to use OTC pain medication in the future, you can take a small dose of Tylenol for the infrequent migraine.
This isn’t a long term solution, as it only puts a bandaid on the issue. We recommend really figuring out what your triggers are, and coming up with a more holistic solution.
Try Supplementing With Magnesium
In several studies, magnesium was found to be very therapeutic for relieving migraines. Most of the research on this topic is anecdotal, but supplementing with magnesium is very safe, so this can be a great option for getting rid of migraines during pregnancy.
One particular study found that those who experienced frequent migraines throughout their pregnancy were deficient in this essential mineral. In fact, you can decrease your chances of migraines by up to 40% by supplementing early and often.
8 Sheep Organics Sleepy Body Lotion
If you are looking to supplement with magnesium for migraines, 8 Sheep Organics Sleepy Body Lotion is your best bet.
This is a completely natural magnesium chloride lotion which also contains organic essential oils, beeswax, coconut oil, mango butter, and distilled water.
Pregnant women use it to combat RLS, insomnia, knee, hip, & back pain, along with a myriad of other painful, uncomfortable pregnancy issues. On top of all this, it leaves your skin feeling smooth and nourished.
This lotion will not only help relax your mind and body and help you get deep sleep you used to enjoy prior to pregnancy. It may also be able to help decrease the intensity and frequency of your migraines. You can try it risk free today!