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Expert advice on advanced diagnosis and treatment of painful headaches and migraines from the leading headache clinic in New Jersey.

Pregnancy Headaches

New Jersey Headache Institute - Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Payman Sadeghi, MD

Is Your Pregnancy Becoming A Headache?

That’s Not Right! Being pregnant is a beautiful feeling but it does come with its share of minor and major irritants. If you are pregnant, you have probably already gone through a phase of morning sickness, fatigue, intense, dry mouth, leg cramps among other problems. Almost all these symptoms are due to the flood of hormones flowing into the body that leads to many sudden changes. And when your body is testing you like this, can headaches be far behind?  Yes, headaches are commonly tied to pregnancy and tend to strike most pregnant women in the first trimester.

Migraine headaches are also common during pregnancy. In fact, close to 15 percent of women get a migraine attack for the first time during their pregnancy. However, for those who suffer from migraines regularly, pregnancy may actually bring relief. This is especially true for women who experience migraines related to periods.

Pregnancy Headache—Why Does It Occur?

A pregnancy headache is usually harmless. It is a steady, dull ache that goes away on its own. Only in cases where the headache lasts for over four hours and is accompanied with one of these conditions—fever, visual disturbances, puffiness of hands and face, dramatic weight gain—do you need to seek medical help. But in the majority of cases, a pregnancy-related headache is more of an irritant than a threatening illness.

Common Reasons for Pregnancy Headaches:

  • Hormonal changes: The body, especially in the first trimester, is in a state of hormonal overdrive and headaches are a natural consequence of that. Women generally tend to feel wonderful in their second trimester when hormones settle down and headaches too disappear
  • Lack of Sleep: Insomnia is an underrated aspect of pregnancy that impacts a good number of women. Lack of sleep adds to stress and leads to headaches.
  • Dehydration: One feels frequently thirsty during pregnancy and it is important to keep oneself hydrated to avoid headaches
  • Foods: Pregnancy makes women doubly sensitive to taste and odors. Certain foods (sweets, sour items) can cause headaches. Similarly, certain smells (strong perfumes, lipstick scents) can trigger a headache.
  • Sinus Congestion: This is a common problem during pregnancy and can cause a headache.
  • Stress: Tension headaches are common in pregnancy when there is a natural anxiety about a lot of things.

Pregnancy Headache and How to Avoid It

There is little one can do when headaches are a result of hormonal changes. However, other triggers can certainly be controlled by being alert. The best solution is to avoid these triggers once you know what they are. There are some other ways to deal with pregnancy headaches as well:

  • Eat on time: It is important not to skip meals as this results in low blood sugar leading to headaches
  • Avoid using strong scents: Your sense of smell is very strong during pregnancy and it's best to avoid shampoos, body lotions, creams, lipsticks, perfumes, etc. that can trigger a headache.
  • Cutting back on caffeine: Too much coffee is not the best thing during pregnancy but do not cut back on it drastically and too soon. It can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
  • Take a break: Nothing like fresh air to cheer you up. Avoid closed, stuffy places. Open the window if you can't go out.

Should You take Medication for a Pregnancy Headache? 

Pregnant women are advised to avoid over-the-counter medicines, hence most prefer to bear the pain. Not all headache pills are harmful but popping them too often can lead to issues. This makes it important that women avoid headache triggers as much as possible. Good counseling and effective treatment can go a long way in making your pregnancy a relaxed and happy time.

The New Jersey Headache Institute has a team of expert doctors with knowledge and formidable experience in treating a variety of headaches. Don't suffer through your pregnancy. Let your pregnancy become the beautiful time it is meant to be.

Call us at 908.315.5707 and put to rest that nagging, pregnancy headache. Use our contact form to book a consultation. 

Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the co-founder of the New Jersey Headache Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas. Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi's medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.

Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.


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