How to properly treat a headache during pregnancy

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Headaches during pregnancy are common and should not be a cause for concern. However, if they persist, and simple remedies do not help you calm them down, you should ask for the advice of the specialist doctor who monitors the progress of the pregnancy.

Pregnancy causes several important changes in the body, and some of them can lead to discomfort such as headaches. It is about the hormonal changes, about the increase in blood volume, as well as the incorrect posture caused by the increased body weight as the pregnancy progresses. The exact cause of a headache during pregnancy can vary depending on the trimester you are in.

Why do they appear?

During the first trimester of pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through several drastic changes in a short time. The body receives a large influx of hormones that can lead to headaches. In the second and third trimesters, the risk of headaches due to hormonal changes decreases, as the body has already adapted to the changes by this stage of pregnancy. However, some women continue to experience them throughout their pregnancy. In the last weeks of pregnancy, headaches can be due to weight gain, increased blood pressure, insomnia or too strict a diet.

Hypertension, possible cause

High blood pressure is a common problem during pregnancy. It worries doctors, because what is called preeclampsia can be reached, a sudden increase in blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia increases the risk of many complications, including seizures and stroke, and can reduce the flow of oxygen to the fetus. A common symptom of preeclampsia is a headache that does not go away, accompanied by blurred or spotty vision, nausea, vomiting, sudden weight gain, abdominal pain, swelling of the face or limbs.

What is there to do?

In many situations, common remedies can help relieve a headache experienced during pregnancy. Applying a cold or warm compress to the painful area for 10 minutes helps. You can also take a warm bath. Rest, a head massage and distancing yourself from screens of any kind have proven useful for many pregnant women who have had headaches.

Beware of painkillers!

During pregnancy, it is essential to avoid over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin, as they increase the risk of giving birth to babies with congenital anomalies. Even paracetamol (acetaminophen) is controversial, although many specialists consider it safe if taken for a short period of time, about 3 days, no more than 2-3 times a day. Some studies indicate that this drug may cause autism spectrum disorders or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. However, more research is needed before experts can make general statements.

Avoid the factors that trigger it!

If the headaches come back often, try to identify the situations that favor the headaches. Fatigue, certain smells, thirst, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), being in a noisy or overheated place can cause headaches, so be careful to avoid them. Rest and go for a walk in the fresh air if possible. It will help you to relax, especially since stress, agitation, anxieties can also influence the persistence of pain.


39% of women experience headaches during pregnancy or in the first days after birth


Avoid self-medication and consult your gynecologist before taking any medicine!

Read also: Anemia in pregnancy can be avoided! What to know

Expert advice

Dr. Andreas Vythoulkas, obstetrician-gynecology specialist, with overspecialization in infertility

I recommend that pregnant women ask for the prior permission of the doctor who monitors their pregnancy for any medicine, even for a trivial headache or a headache. In the first trimester of pregnancy, in particular, the administration of drugs without a medical recommendation increases the risk of fetal malformations, during this period the organs are formed, and the danger to the fetus is increased. Expectant mothers must not forget for a second that any medicine reaches her blood and then reaches the fetus through the placenta.