Pregnancy is three trimesters on a big hormonal roller coaster. For some women, these changes in hormones can bring blessed relief from migraines, especially in the second and third trimester. But for others, the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy can be the trigger that causes migraines. So what’s a woman to do to find headache relief pregnant? Is there help? Yes! You have a range of options. But before trying any of them, see your doctor to discuss which option is right for you and your baby. Also, if your migraine headache is accompanied by fever, blurred vision, lasts for hours or returns often, see your physician immediately.
The first and easiest thing you can do to prevent a migraine headache while pregnant is to avoid migraine triggers. The most common triggers are caffeine, chocolate, foods containing monosodium glutamate, cheeses and processed meats. A healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy is achievable even when avoiding these foods. If chocolate is a mandatory food group in your pregnancy, you can give yourself a chocolate trial to see if it is the culprit. If it isn’t…INDULGE!
The second thing you can do is RELAX! Slow down for a few minutes every day and take a break from the pressures of your life. Lying down in a quiet room and deep breathing can do wonders to bring stress levels down. If this is your first pregnancy, take advantage of this time while you don’t have other children to care for…let others do for you, and say YES to all offers of help.
Regular exercise has been proven effective in migraine relief. Exercise is not only an excellent tension reducer, but it also increases blood circulation and oxygenation in the body, helps rid your body of toxins, helps you sleep better and boosts endomorphins, your body’s natural pain fighters, among other things. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise daily can go a long way towards long term relief from migraine pain. Do it all in one shot, or break it up into smaller 10 minute segments, whichever works best for your schedule.
Many alternative or natural options can offer migraine headache relief pregnant. There are a number of medicine free options that can be very effective in relieving migraine pain. Massage and/or aroma-therapy are two great medication-free options. Essential oils including lavender, sandalwood and peppermint are an especially effective headache cure and can be diluted in water (5 drops in a basin of water) and applied on a compress to the neck, or used in a massage oil. Massage to the feet or the web of skin between the thumb and first finger are effective pressure points for headache pain relief.
Alternating hot and cold compresses relieves migraine pain in many women. For some, plunging ones hands into a basin of hot water is helpful. Others find relief from a cloth-wrapped ice pack placed directly on the site of the pain, or to the back of the neck. Hot packs placed on the stomach or back can also divert blood flow from the head and offer relief.
If you still are fighting migraine headache pain after trying the methods mentioned above, check with your doctor, as there are herbs and medications that can be taken safely during pregnancy. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the most commonly recommended pain reliever during pregnancy. It is available over the counter and is considered safe to take while pregnant. Never take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) or aspirin without permission from your doctor. These medications are part of the NSAID class and are to be avoided during pregnancy without a doctor’s supervision. At this point there are no preventative migraine medications classified in the lowest risk category for pregnancy. Depending on the severity of your migraines and the impact on your quality of life, however, the benefits of many of these medications may outweigh the risks. Certain narcotics and some preventative drugs such as beta-blockers and anti-depressants can be used during pregnancy under a doctor’s supervision. This is a decision that only you and your doctor can make together based on your own personal risk-benefit ratio.
There are many herbal supplements than have been shown to be safe and effective for preventing, treating or reducing migraine pain. The most common herbs for migraines are peppermint, feverfew, passion flower, gingko, cayenne and butterbur. Like with prescription medication, check with your physician about the safety of using any of these supplements during pregnancy. Being an herb does not automatically guarantee it is safe to take while pregnant. Many of these herbs have strong medicinal qualities and need to be cleared before taking while pregnant.
So what’s the best way to achieve headache relief pregnant? As you can see, there are many remedies and treatment options you can try if you are experiencing migraines or severe headaches while pregnant. Feel free to experiment with food changes or any of the home remedies recommended above on your own, but consult your doctor before trying any medications or herbal treatments. With a little experimentation and luck, you will find the perfect combination of methods to relieve your migraine pain while pregnant and hopefully pamper yourself a little in the process!