Pregnancy Migraines: Causes and Treatment

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 19, 2013

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A woman with headache

During pregnancy, a woman’s body is constantly undergoing changes. This tends to cause discomforts such as aches, pains and irritation. If you are prone to getting migraine attacks and are pregnant, either your vows may increase or migraine headache symptoms will ease.


The reason behind migraine headaches is unknown. But, it seems to appear owing to the changes in nerve pathways, neurochemicals and blood flow in the brain. Hormonal change during pregnancy is considered to be a common trigger for those prone to migraine.

Researchers believe that overactive brain cells trigger a release of chemicals during pregnancy. These chemicals irritate blood vessels on the brain's surface, to make blood vessels swell and stimulate the pain in response. Moreover, estrogen and the neurotransmitter serotonin are believed to have a role in pregnancy migraines. Owing to this reason, menstruation and menopause often change a woman's pattern of migraine headaches.


[Read: Drugs to Avoid during Pregnancy]



Identification of triggers

The very first step in the treatment of pregnancy migraines is tracking your triggers. Hormonal changes in the body are not the only trigger of migraine headaches, as most women have a combination of triggers. It is advised for an expectant mother to create a headache diary that enables her keep track of particular triggers.

Each time you have an attack, note down your specific symptoms (such as the time your headache started/ended, foods/beverage intake before the migraine, any sort of environment change or treatment you tried but made migraine worse). This will help health care practitioner on what treatment will work best to relieve specific symptoms and what you need to avoid.


[Read: How to Deal with Headaches during Pregnancy]



You need to pay special attention to medications if you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant soon. During pregnancy, doctors advise women to stay off unless drugs are absolutely needed. Several researches in the past have associated medications with pregnancy complications, birth defects, bleeding, miscarriage and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).

Self-help Treatments

The application of cold towel on your head, taking a cold shower, taking a nap, exercising and practising relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga can help relieve discomfort of pregnancy migraines. You can also use heating pad or cold packs to get rid of pregnancy migraines. Applying heat or cold to the sides of the head, the eyes, or along the back of the neck will also give you relief from the pain associated with a migraine.




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