During early- and late-stage pregnancy, headaches are a very common aggravation. Many women suffer from much more frequent headaches than they used to, while others may also get more frequent migraines. Especially if you’re used to being able to use over-the-counter pain medication, this could be yet another challenge during pregnancy. These headaches are generally the worst during the first and third trimesters and have some very different causes at each stage.
First trimester causes. The first trimester is when the hormone changes associated with pregnancy are the most likely to cause headaches. If you were used to high levels of caffeine prepregnancy, you may be suffering from withdrawals. In addition, you’re much more likely to suffer from lack of sleep, dehydration (especially if you have moderate to severe morning sickness), low blood sugar and stress than before pregnancy.
Third trimester causes. During the third trimester, your pregnancy headaches are more likely to be related to the actual wear and tear on your body. As your baby grows, you take on a lot of fluid, and baby also starts riding lower and lower. Your posture may be affected, and you may also suffer from eye strain due to minor vision changes during pregnancy. The body also starts increasing blood volume at this time in preparation for labor, potentially causing headaches associated with high blood pressure.
Pregnancy headache treatment. The American Pregnancy Association advises, “During pregnancy, you want to try and relieve your headache by natural means if possible.” While your doctor may opt to prescribe acetaminophen if the headaches severely impact your daily life, most will advise more natural approaches first. Alternate hot and cold packs on your temples, engage in relaxing activities, drink more water, avoid extreme heat or temperature changes, and invest in a high-quality maternity back brace as baby grows. Make sure to eat at least the recommended amount of fresh fruit every day as well — not only is it good nutrition for you and your baby, but the electrolytes are also an essential part of preventing dehydration.