Why do Women experience headaches during pregnancy?

As well as 10 tips to help prevent and treat migraines during pregnancy.

Headaches are a common symptom during pregnancy, affecting around two-thirds of pregnant women. Each pregnancy is completely different, which is why some women will never experience a headache at all. Women may experience more frequent and intense headaches in the first and third trimesters. While pregnancy headaches can be frustrating, they’re usually harmless with a few exceptions. The good news is that most women find that their migraines go away after they give birth. Prenatal Chiropractor in Lakewood Nicholas Kirton discusses.



What are Migraines?


A migraine is a headache disorder characterized by recurrent attacks of head pain that are moderate to severe. Migraines are more common in women than men and can occur at any age. The pain is often accompanied by other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. They may be caused by changes in the environment, hormones, or posture. Migraines can be further divided into two types: migraine with aura and migraine without aura.


Migraine with aura refers to a migraine attack that is preceded or followed by neurological symptoms, such as visual disturbances, numbness or tingling in the extremities, or difficulty speaking.  Some people experience aura symptoms before a migraine, such as seeing flashes of light or experiencing blind spots. Migraine without aura also called common migraine, does not include these additional symptoms


Why do migraines occur during pregnancy?


Migraines are often debilitating and can be triggered by a number of factors. During pregnancy, the body goes through a lot of changes. Hormone levels fluctuate and the growing baby puts extra pressure on the mother’s spine and posture. These changes are what are needed to keep the mother and baby happy and healthy but can trigger migraines in some women.


Other Factors include


Foods rich in tyramine, such as aged cheeses, smoked meats, and pickled foods, can trigger migraines. So can skipping meals or fasting. Not getting enough water can also lead to migraines, as can oversleeping or not getting enough sleep. Changes in weather from hot to cold or vice versa can vary the atmospheric pressure which has been linked to triggering migraines.


Nutritional deficiencies have also been linked to migraines. For example, people who don’t get enough magnesium or vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may be more likely to experience migraines. Stress is another common migraine trigger. Emotional stress, such as from job loss or relationship problems, can cause migraines. So can physical stress, such as from an injury or surgery.


Headaches that a present in women prior to becoming pregnant can exhibit themselves during pregnancy. However, headaches may be related to an underlying health condition such as;

Pre eclampsia
Blood clots
Sinus infections


Pre eclampsia is a serious condition that is widely discussed at your Obstetrics office and is a trigger of migraines. This condition is partially characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Pre eclampsia can be caused by a variety of factors, including lifestyle and other underlying medical conditions. Lifestyle choices contribute to pre eclampsia. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and being overweight are all risk factors for this condition. Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease can increase your risk for pre eclampsia.


If you have any of these risk factors, it is important to talk to your doctor about your risks of developing this condition.


Are all Headaches migraines?


Under typical conditions, most headaches are not migraines. A migraine is a type of headache that can cause intense symptoms. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache in nonpregnant women. They can be caused by stress, anxiety, or muscle tension. Tension headaches can be felt like a tight band that is wrapped around your forehead. Migraines are more common in pregnant women than in the general population. It is estimated that 15 to 18 percent of pregnant women get migraines. Even though a headache may be severe, it does not necessarily mean it is a migraine.


Learn More about different types of headaches here!


How do I stop having migraines while pregnant?


More than half of women who have migraines continue to have them during pregnancy. There are steps you can take to help reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraines while pregnant.


Your first line of defense against migraines is to identify and avoid your triggers.


  1. Bright Lights. If you have to go outside, wear sunglasses that block UV rays.


  1. Strong Smells. Avoid strong odors and chemical fumes by keeping windows closed and limiting using air fresheners or scented candles.


If you can’t avoid a trigger, try to minimize your exposure to it.


Positive Lifestyle choices can include


  1. Hydrate in moderation. Drink plenty of water but if you start swelling up consult with your provider.


  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. Finding a good sleep position has a lot more benefits than staying comfortable throughout the night.


  1. Practice good posture. If you are able to, the easiest way to maintain good posture is to get up and move around every 20 minutes. Maintaining good posture is essential not just for the pregnancy but also for reducing neck muscle and nerve tension that may contribute to your migraine triggers.


  1. Exercise in moderation. Yes, you can exercise. If you were exercising prior to becoming pregnant then you are able to exercise at the same intensity while you are pregnant. Don’t increase the intensity and consult your provider to ensure there aren’t any underlying medical conditions.


  1. Keep a migraine diary throughout your pregnancy. This will help you and your doctor identify any patterns in your migraines. The diary should include information about when the migraine started, how long it lasted, what symptoms you experienced, and anything that you think may have triggered the migraine.


  1. Find mental health support to help reduce stress and anxiety.


  1. Get on a Nutritional. learn what nourishment your body needs and limit sugar.


  1. Get Chiropractic Care! Chiropractic care is safe for you and your baby. Your chiropractor will be able to assess the state of your nervous system, as well as any misalignments that may be causing problems. The tension associated with the neuromusculoskeletal system, specifically in your neck, is an avoidable trigger that a chiropractor can reduce and potentially eliminate. Our Chiropractor in Lakewood is well trained in treating migraines during pregnancy. Other benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy include reduced; labor times, trauma at birth, back pain as well as an overall healthier pregnancy.



If you get migraines during pregnancy, talk to our Lakewood Chiropractor Dr. Nicholas Kirton about ways to remove triggers today!


Online Scheduling available here.

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