How to Treat a Headache During Pregnancy

Physical and hormonal changes in pregnancy can either bring on/increase or decrease the occurrence of headaches. The first and third trimesters are when people are more prone to experiencing headaches in pregnancy. Hormonal shifts as well as increase in blood volume can cause headaches in the first trimester, while the third trimester is often responsible for headaches due to increased physical demands on the body. Other benign reasons for headaches in pregnancy include stress, anxiety, caffeine withdrawals, food/smell sensitivities, dehydration, lack of sleep, and low blood sugar. 

If you’re experiencing a headache that won’t go away or headaches that interfere with your ability to function normally, contact your doctor/OB/midwife right away. Headaches that are severe and/or persistent could indicate a problem that needs medical attention. A headache that won’t go away in the late second and third trimesters could be a sign of preeclampsia, which requires immediate medical treatment. 

Thankfully, there are many choices for treating headaches during pregnancy. When it comes to medicine, the only medicine that’s safely advised to take for things like a headache in pregnancy is acetaminophen (Tylenol).

On the other hand, natural (non-drug) treatments for headaches are numerous and include:

  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to get rid of or prevent headaches
  • Rest – taking a nap or making sure to get enough sleep at night to prevent or get rid of headaches
  • Ice/heat – use a hot pack on shoulders or on the back of your neck or an ice pack at the base of your skull
  • Massage, especially neck and shoulders
  • Exercise 
  • Stretching, including regular yoga or headache-specific yoga routines (yep, it’s a thing!)
  • Improving and maintaining good posture, especially late in pregnancy
  • Eating regular and nutritionally-balanced meals
  • Wet wash cloth – cool cloth on forehead or warm wash cloth on your eye and nose area
  • Warm bath
  • Chiropractor adjustment
  • Tension-reducing exercises, like shoulder circles

If at any time, you have questions or concerns about the headaches you’re experiencing or how to treat them, call your care provider and let them know. 




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