Dealing with headaches during pregnancy

Posted on February 22nd, 2019

Most medications are taboo during pregnancy, so what can expecting moms do to treat a headache? Here’s what our expert recommends… By Xanet Scheepers

Dealing with headaches during pregnancy

“About 50 – 60% of expecting women complain of headaches during some point in their pregnancy, and they are especially common in the first trimester,” says obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Patricia Okeyo. “I attribute the headaches to the changes your cardiovascular system is undergoing,” she adds.
You are also probably a little stressed if it’s your first pregnancy. Your body is undergoing so many changes and you’ll find that there are certain triggers in your environment that can bring on a headache.

What triggers headaches during pregnancy?

The many cardiovascular changes your body is undergoing, the stress of being pregnant and having very high hormone levels all contribute to headaches, says Dr Okeyo. She adds that certain smells like coffee or perfume can also trigger a headache.
“During the second and third trimesters, headaches are most likely caused by a lack of sleep,” says Dr Okeyo.

How to treat a headache during pregnancy

  • It is recommended that pregnant women not take any medication for a headache if possible. “If you know what could be causing the headache – try and treat that. If it’s coffee or tea bringing on the headache, rather avoid it,” says Dr Okeyo.
  • Make sure that you are well hydrated.
  • Ensure that you get enough sleep and rest.

If your headache persists you can take two Panados. Panados are completely safe to take during pregnancy and won’t affect your baby in any way.

ALSO SEE: The benefits of acupuncture for pregnancy and birth

How to treat a severe migraine

  • Migraines are caused by the release of certain chemicals in the brain which cause the blood vessels to open up a little more, causing the pain receptors to be triggered. “Try and figure out what exactly is triggering your migraines and then try to avoid those things,” says Dr Okeyo.
  • Simple things like sitting in a dark room and resting and putting a warm or cold pack on your forehead can help to control your migraine.
  • Panados can be taken for a migraine, but speak to your gynaecologist if you’re experiencing severe migraines that won’t dissipate.

ALSO SEE: Your ultimate pregnancy medication safety checklist

When to see the doctor

If you have a severe, debilitating headache, phone your doctor as soon as possible as this may be an indicator of an underlying medical condition like pre-eclampsia.

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About Xanet Scheepers

Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day.