Headaches are one of the more unpleasant side effects that come with pregnancy. All women will have some, but most will experience them in the first and last trimesters. In the first three months, this is thought to be primarily due to such factors as increased blood volume, the initial stresses, and hormonal changes. In the final three months, the causes are more likely to be poor posture, which can result in pressure on parts of your body that communicate their discomfort to the brain, and also from the discomforts of carrying extra weight.
Oddly enough, women who experience migraine headaches may have fewer during a pregnancy, while a small percentage of sufferers will have more. These patients should discuss relief for the migraines with their doctor, as soon as a pregnancy is confirmed, if not beforehand while they are planning to start a family.
The best idea for dealing with headaches during pregnancy is to avoid the known triggers or those that are most likely responsible. The food preservative MSG, cheeses, spicy foods, caffeine, chocolate, and other elements of our normal diet, are best eliminated while expecting a baby.
A healthy, balanced diet, eaten in several small meals a day if necessary, with plenty of fluids, and lots of rest, is your first line of defense against headaches. Being tired, dehydrated, and unable to eat normally, can all work together to start your head pounding.
When you do get a headache, try and identify the cause and deal with it accordingly. If the headache is from your sinuses, a warm compress around your nose and above your eyebrows may relieve some of the pressure. Stress or tension headaches can benefit from cold compresses to the back of the neck. Using these while lying down in a darkened room, will help to alleviate some of the tension that builds up from the pain, and makes the headache worse. Depending on your preferences, some women may also benefit from using aromatherapy and sound therapy techniques at the same time.
While most pregnancy headaches are from benign causes, you should call your doctor if they get worse, become more frequent, are debilitating, or are accompanied by swelling of the hands, feet, or face.