Migraine: Headaches During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Mohd Sufyan   by Mohd Sufyan, B.S.    Last updated on May 19, 2018,

headaches during pregnancy

 

Migraine during pregnancy

It is common for women to suffer with migraine attacks during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a common trigger for those susceptible to migraine hormonal changes in the body. Oestrogen reaches one hundred times the normal level, and progesterone decreases, but rises again as the pregnancy comes toward end.

The variations in the levels of hormones are though not as pronounced as when you are not pregnant. This may be the reason why migraine often gets better during pregnancy. Scientists suggest that the improvement in the condition may be due to release of natural pain killers (endorphin hormones) from the body during pregnancy. The levels of these pain reliving hormones increase to several times when you are pregnant.

These hormones come back to normal levels after the delivery of the child. This makes you more prone to the migraine attack again after the delivery. When you are breastfeeding, oestrogen levels in the body are more stable which help in protecting against headache after pregnancy again.

But it is not always true that migraine symptoms get better in pregnancy. Sometimes, it acts as a potential trigger particularly in the early weeks of pregnancy. Here’s what you should do if you are a woman and planning a pregnancy (or are pregnant).

Migraine headaches are a type of vascular headaches that result from blood vessels dilating in the brain. These are different from headaches due to stress or tension. Read more about migraine causes.

Planning your pregnancy

Always meet your doctor when you plan pregnancy if you are a migraine sufferer. This is more important if you are taking medicines regularly. Not all medicines may be pregnancy-safe. Your doctor will give you advice for the management of your migraine symptoms and help you prevent chronic attacks.

Migraine with aura in pregnancy

If you experience migraine with aura, your migraine symptoms may not improve during pregnancy. You are more likely to get these attacks during the pregnancy.

 If you experience migraine attacks for the first time and you suspect this is migraine, meet your doctor immediately so necessary action can be taken. He or she will determine the cause of headache during pregnancy and will provide treatment accordingly if necessary. Sometimes, the symptoms of pain may overlap with certain pregnancy-related conditions such as pre-eclampsia.

Migraine medication during pregnancy: What can I take for a headache while pregnant?

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This is a common question in migraine sufferers. What can you take for a headache while pregnant? You should tell your doctor the medicines you are taking for migraine if you are pregnant. Your doctor may ask you to stop these medicines or switch to safer treatment options.

Ideally, all types of drugs should be avoided in pregnancy, as either they are considered unsafe or their safety has not been proven (or tested) in pregnancy or during breastfeeding. If you plan to use any drug during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, this should be known to your doctor. He or she can weigh the relative risks and benefits of these drugs.

Planning for the first trimester in pregnancy:

The first three months are critical. Your symptoms of pregnancy can make your migraine symptoms worse. Morning sickness can feel you like not eating or drinking which can cause low blood sugar and dehydration. This can make the condition worse if you do not take necessary steps. It is preferred to eat small and frequent meals to keep you healthy and free of worsening symptoms.

Migraine symptoms after childbirth

Migraine returns in some women after the delivery as the menses return. Some women experience severe attacks a few days after the birth of the child. This may be due to sudden changes in the hormone levels. Other factors could be such as dehydration, poor sleep, low blood sugars after the delivery.

In some other women, the symptoms may remain improved during breastfeeding.

Can your migraine symptoms affect your baby?

There is no evidence that migraine pain can affect your baby. Doctors say that migraine does not harm your baby.

Migraine during breastfeeding

It is good to avoid medicines if possible during breastfeeding because whatever you eat will affect the baby through the milk. You can continue with almost the same drugs as used in pregnancy except a few blood thinning drugs. Ask your doctor before you decide about continuing the medicines post-delivery.

Take rest

As far as possible, take rest. Avoid becoming over-tired and fatigued. Setup the work schedule and allocate households to others in the family.