Most pregnant women, at some point in their pregnancy, will suffer from mild to severe headaches. Headaches during pregnancy are triggered by the hormonal changes that take place in your body. In fact, the most common time to experience headache pain is in early pregnancy when your hormones are first beginning to surge.
13 Headaches During Pregnancy
As mentioned, hormonal changes will be the underlying trigger of headaches during pregnancy. The hormone progesterone, which helps to relax your womb (uterus) and blood vessels in your body (including in your head and neck), will trigger headaches, as they will cause your blood to pound through your veins.
Changes in your blood pressure could also trigger tension-type headaches, which are often felt like tight pressure on both sides of your head. Additionally, if you had headaches or migraines before you were pregnant, they may continue to occur in early pregnancy. Though it is not proven, most women who experience tension-type headaches will notice that once they are pregnant, the headaches become less severe and less frequent.
Excessive tiredness, hunger, dehydration, stress, or a lack of physical exercise may also affect how often and how severe you get headaches during pregnancy. Moreover, if you’re trying to reduce your caffeine intake or if you’re trying to quit smoking, you may also notice that headaches will be a part of your withdrawal symptoms.
12 Are Headaches During Pregnancy Dangerous?
Though most headaches are common in early to mid stages of pregnancy, you should always consult your doctor or midwife if you have headaches in your third trimester that are at the front of your head and accompanied by dizziness, sickness, or sudden swelling in your fingers and ankles. Why? These could be symptoms of pre-eclampsia, in which case needs to be medically dealt with immediately.
11 Coping With Headaches Naturally
Now that you’ve understood why headaches in pregnancy can occur, let’s take a look at how to deal with them naturally, that is, without taking any form of medication.
The following tips of how to naturally cope with your headaches during pregnancy are listed below:
10 Cool Compress
A great way to relieve both the annoyance and the pain of a pregnancy headache is by applying a cold compression. You can do this by lying down on your back and placing either a cold cloth or an ice pack on your head or neck. This numbing effect from the cold compression will help to alleviate the sharp pain associated with your headache.
9 Hot Compress
If you’re feeling more of a tension-type headache, chances are it will begin in your neck. To eliminate this tension, place a warm cloth or heating pad at the back of your neck to relax the tense muscles. Warm showers or baths may have a similar effect, so if you’re more comfortable relaxing in warm water, you can also try that.
8 Eat a Balanced Diet
To feel your best during pregnancy and to keep your immune system strong, try to maintain as healthy of a diet as possible. Make sure to eat fresh foods, eliminating processed foods when you can. For example, have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables of all types and colors to ensure you’re getting a healthy balance of nutrients.
It's also important to eat regularly to maintain your blood sugar levels. If you’re feeling particularly ill, make sure to nibble on something nutritious, or prepare small meals more often if you can't manage a larger one. Keep some snacks, such as dried apricots or sesame seeds, handy for when you're at work or on the go.
7 Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is never a good sign, especially for pregnant women, as they have approximately 50% more fluid volume in their system. Dehydration can also lead to severe headaches, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Drinking 10 glasses of water each day is ideal for moderately active moms. However, if it’s hot outside, or if you’ve been exercising regularly, you’ll need even more.
6 Focus on Your Posture
Poor posture can cause muscle strain, changes in your breathing patterns and can also lead to a host of problems, including headaches. For pregnant women, poor posture can be more of a common issue, as pregnancy usually changes the shape and behavior of your back. In fact, your lower back may flatten slightly, or if you had an arched lower back before pregnancy, it may arch even further.
Working on perfecting your posture can help to keep your muscles in a more relaxed state, avoiding headaches and muscle strain altogether. In order to do this, there are some minimal changes you can make. For example, make sure the position of your chair, computer screen, or car seat encourages good posture.
You should also check that your bed pillows aren't too high, as this may cause a kink in your neck. Moreover, if your mattress is more than seven years old, it may be affecting and putting strain on your lower back. The pain will then transfer to your neck, and eventually to your head, causing some extreme discomfort.
Aromatherapy is one of the most fascinating alternatives to medicine that involves the use of volatile plant materials, otherwise known as essential oils that are aromatically inhaled. It is often used to improve mood, change cognitive states, and can even be utilized as an alternative to conventional pain relievers for headaches.
If you’re pregnant and suffering from headaches, aromatherapy oils may help. Put two drops of peppermint, lavender, wild orange or lemon oil on a tissue and breathe it in as often as you find it helpful. You can also rub one drop of whichever oil you choose onto your temples on either (or both) sides of your forehead to help loosen any tense muscles you may have in your head.
Acupressure is one of the most effective as well as safest methods of natural headache relief known to date. In fact, there is some good evidence that acupuncture can help with both tension-type headaches and migraines in pregnancy. In acupressure, there are certain pressure points that can be stimulated to produce headache pain relief.
Where are these pressure points?
- In the webbing of the thumb and index finger
- Four finger-widths above the inside of your ankle bone
- In the lower back on each side
Although using maternity acupressure can be very helpful for headache relief, it is important to first get your doctor’s consent. The reason being is that some doctor’s will advise not to perform acupressure until have you have completed all stages of pregnancy.
3 Bach Flower
Although there's no proven evidence that Bach Flower remedies are effective for easing headache pain in pregnancy, many women have noted to find them helpful when they’re feeling tired, stressed or run-down.
If you would like to try easing your headache pain with a Bach Flower remedy, put four drops of it either on your tongue, or dissolved in a glass of water. Though this is both a natural and safe remedy for headache relief, make sure to consult with a medical practitioner before introducing anything new to your body during pregnancy.
Meditation is the art of silencing the mind, so if your headaches are bringing forth some added discomfort, deep breathing and meditation can help. During meditation, awareness is focused on thoughts and breathing, and being conscious of breathing automatically organizes the thinking process, relaxing the mind, body and soul entirely.
If you’ve never tried mediation before, follow these tips to help make the most of your practice:
- Close your eyes. Relax. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, keeping your mouth soft and slightly open.
- Take a deep breath, relax, and then let go of any tension on your exhale. Repeat.
- Concentrate as hard as you can on your breathing. Breathe in as any pain builds up, and breath out as it fades away.
- Maintain your rhythm. Don't worry about how loud you're breathing, or for how long. Just make sure to not allow the in-breath to become longer than the out-breath.
This rhythmic meditation will not only help to conserve your energy, but will also assist in easing any added stress brought on by your headache.
1 Get Adequate Sleep
Because sleep deprivation may contribute to headaches during pregnancy, it is important to get enough sleep (roughly 8-10 hours per night). If you’re up tossing and turning at night, make sure to make up the hours you've lost during the day. You could also consider going to bed an hour earlier to ensure you are not skipping out on too much needed sleep. By following a regular sleep schedule, you will feel more energized to go about your daily routine.
Headaches are one of the most common discomforts of pregnancy. Though completely normal, they can be quite the nuisance, especially because pregnant women have to deal many other frequent body changes. Luckily, there are many ways to deal with headaches during pregnancy safely and naturally. So, if you’re in need of some natural headache-healing tips, follow the list we have outlined above.