When you are pregnant, your body goes through tons of significant changes. Some of them include a rapid increase or decrease in the production of your hormones. Even your blood pressure and sugar levels have to be monitored at least once a day throughout your pregnancy months.
It is already too much for a pregnant person to go through the regular changes of pregnancy. To make it even more challenging for them, some women may also experience intense and strong headaches during their pregnancy months.
Such headaches recurring headaches during your pregnancy days are called pregnancy migraines.
In this article, we will discuss what pregnancy migraine really is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment to cope with this problem.
So let’s dive in!
What Is A Pregnancy Migraine?
A pregnancy migraine is an intense sensation of extreme pain on one side of your head that often spreads to the other side. It is caused due to the changes in your nervous system inside your brain. As the blood vessels broaden, causing a headache as a response to this change.
It is a recurring pain for an hour and occurs twice a month. Some may have it before getting pregnant, while others may experience it for the first time during their pregnancy months.
During pregnancy, the nervous system of some women may go through changes. So, there is a chance that their migraine is developed during those months.
Can A Person With No Migraine History Get A Migraine Attack?
Yes, some women have never experienced migraine attacks before their pregnancy. It only occurred after they got pregnant.
Healthcare workers reported that about 15% to 20% of pregnant women suffer from migraine attacks during pregnancy. But fortunately, almost 80% of the women migraines occurred less in the last months of their pregnancy.
Does It Affect The Baby?
Luckily, no effect on the baby has been reported up till now. Only the mother has to go through the episodes of a striking headache.
It causes a severe headache from time to time during their months of pregnancy. But it doesn’t harm the baby’s development inside the fetus. It is also reported that mothers felt fewer migraine attacks during the last months of their pregnancy as compared to the initial months. However, it may vary from person to person.
What Causes Migraine?
Following are the causes that contribute to the occurrence of the migraine among women:
- Foods – Eating nothing or eating aged cheeses, salty and processed foods.
- Drinks – Include drinks such as coffee, alcohol, wine, or too much caffeine in any drink.
- Sleep Changes – Getting too much sleep or missing it – irregular sleep pattern.
- Stress – Any kind of stress can cause migraines.
- Sensory Stimuli – Strong smells, loud sound, or bright lights can induce migraines
- Physical Factors – Intense physical exertion might stimulate migraines.
- Weather Changes – A change in the barometric pressure can provoke a migraine.
- Hormonal Medications – Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HTA).
- Food Additives – Sweetener aspartame, preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- Hormonal Changes – Increase or decrease in the estrogen levels before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy and menopause.
Pregnancy Migraine Symptoms
Few symptoms occur before these migraine attacks. Some may become sensitive to the environment or experience sweating chills, a loss of appetite, jerking uncontrollably, or difficulty speaking. The symptoms of a migraine attack may differ depending on the health conditions of the person.
Migraine is divided into five stages:
- Premonitory – Warning phase (beginning of physical and mental changes).
- Aura – Neurological symptoms.
- Main Attack – Severe and unbearable headache, get worse by any movement.
- Resolution – Attacks slowly fade away, and the person either cries or becomes sick.
- Recovery or Postdrome – Symptoms can be similar to those of the first stage.
The aura stage symptoms are further divided into two main types, migraine aura and migraine without aura.
You’ll experience neurological symptoms such as flashing lights, zigzag lines, or temporary vision loss of vision for about 10 to 30 minutes before an aura migraine attack. It will start from one side of the head and spread to the other side of it. You also feel the intense throbbing in the forehead, jaw, ear, temple, or around the eye. This type of attack may last one to two days.
Migraine Without Aura
These symptoms are more related to physical conditions such as fatigue, unusual retention of fluids, diarrhoea, increased urination, or nausea and vomiting. However, it also has some mental-related symptoms, such as a craving for sweet foods, tiredness, mood swings, feeling thirsty or a stiff neck. This type of attack lasts for about three to four days.
Migraine Treatment During Pregnancy
If a migraine hits you, there are two options that you can use for treating the migraine – medication and remedy.
Before taking any medication, you should try the following remedies:
- Hot or cold compresses – Use a compressor to relieve your migraine pain. You can either numb your pain with a cold pack, wrapped in a towel, placed over your head or place a heating pad around your neck to ease tension in muscles.
- Know your triggers – Eat in regular intervals, stay hydrated, and take proper sleep. You must have to take care of your diet and lifestyle in order to avoid a migraine attack.
- Stay in the dark – When you become sensitive to the environment due to migraine attacks, a dark and quiet room can be beneficial.
Following two drugs are declared by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) safe to use during your pregnancy to recover from migraine attacks:
- Metoclopramide – Treats Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), increases the speed of stomach emptying. Sometimes prescribed for migraine when experiencing nausea.
- Acetaminophen – Treats minor aches and pains and reduces fever (Generic name of the drug in Tylenol).
Aspirin Or Ibuprofen During Pregnancy: Is It Safe?
No, any medicine containing aspirin or ibuprofen is not recommended to use during your pregnancy months. It may increase the chances of miscarriage, increase bleeding, prolong labour pain, and may also harm the development of your baby’s heart and lungs.
Migraines during pregnancy can be excruciating for first-timers. It is connected to your nervous system and blood pressure. Although it doesn’t affect your baby’s development or the baby itself, the medicines to reduce migraine attacks might harm your baby.
So, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor before taking any medication for migraine attacks. Plus, try to use home remedies to avoid or overcome the headaches caused by migraine attacks.