Migraines during pregnancy
The most important thing in pregnancy is good maternal well-being and learning to control your migraines during pregnancy is very important

“The most important thing in pregnancy is good maternal well-being,” said Matthew S. Robbins MD, neurologist and Director of Inpatient Services at Montefiore Headache Center in Bronx, NY. “In pregnancy, there’s a big emphasis on avoiding medicines because of any questionable impact it could have on the developing baby.”

If you are pregnant, without a doubt you are experiencing a lot of changes in your body.  In particular things like body aches and pains.  But one thing that you might not know is that 50 to 80 % pregnant women experience a cessation of migraine attacks, according to David Dodick, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Arizona.  Many doctors believe rising estrogen levels help reduce migraine frequency and intensity during pregnancy.

If you are in the percentage of women that suffer from a migraine during pregnancy, the natural inclination is when the migraine starts is to reach for your proven method of migraine pain management.  But when you are pregnant conditions change and your usual migraine treatment can be potentially unsafe for your growing baby. Migraine treatments need to be discussed with your Doctor and you may need to reevaluate your migraine treatment options.

Women whose pregnancy triggers migraine attacks may have to make significant adjustments to their health care and habits

You may have to develop new strategies for preventing and treating your migraines. Women whose pregnancy triggers migraine attacks may have to make significant adjustments to their health care and habits.

Some women experience an increase in migraine symptoms, especially during the first trimester.  Some studies show that migraines symptoms.

accompanied by high blood pressure can increase the risk of developing preeclampsia.  It's important that you work with your obstetrician and your migraine doctor to establish a safe treatment plan.

CT scans and other radiology tests to rule out other causes of your headaches aren't usually advised in pregnancy, due to the potential risks to your baby.

Headaches are a common occurrence for most people, during pregnancy can be a a source of major inconvenience.  While you are pregnant it is always a good idea to really focus on a  healthy diet and try to live in a stress-free environment as possible.

You can learn about different types of migraine, their causes, symptoms and treatment here.

Some experts recommend to do the following:

1. Identify your triggers and limit them with a Migraine Diary

Some women have specific triggers that cause them migraines.Try to identify what triggers your migraines during pregnancy. Triggers are different for everyone. Remember that something that triggers your migraines one day may not bother you the next day.

Keep a good diary and cross-reference your patterns with common triggers. Keeping track of the triggers in your diary will make it possible to avoid them and suffer your migraine attacks less often.  This diary will help your doctor give you the migraine therapy that is appropriate for you and that is not so harmful to your baby.

Below are some common triggers that can give you a migraine attack

  • Stress
  • Chocolate
  • Cheese
  • Coffee
  • Weather
  • Hormones
  • Skipped meals
  • Lack of sleep
  • Hormone changes
  • Processed foods
  • Artificial sweeteners
2. Magnesium
While you are pregnant, magnesium will help relax your muscles and will prevent premature contraction of the uterus. It also strengthens the muscles and baby´s teeth. Experts recommend a daily intake of 400mg. One cup of spinach contains approximately 157 mg of magnesium, and therefore it makes for a good dietary component. The best way to eat your spinach is a tasty and fun smoothie.

Spinach Smoothie

spinach smoothie can help with migraine


1 cup of spinach

2 scoops of vanilla ice cream

Blanch the spinach in boiling water for five minutes.

Blend the spinach leaves and ice cream together, and your smoothie is ready.
Another way to include more magnesium in your diet is by including almonds in your diet.

3. Cold Compress

During pregnancy, migraine can be caused due to expanded blood vessels in the head. A cold compress helps in tightening the blood vessels and shrinking the cells and thus may help in alleviating the pain.

All you need is:

  • A clean towel
  • A bowl of cold water
  • Soak the towel in water and squeeze extra water.

Liedown on a comfortable surface and place the towel on your forehead and eyes. Gently press it to get some relief. A cold compress is known to provide relief from vascular headaches such as a migraine.  Also some migraine sufferers get relief by applying cold to the back of the neck also.

4. Hot Compress

Tight muscles can contribute to a headache.  A warm compress helps in alleviating the pain by expanding the blood vessels and increasing the blood flow to the muscles. Tension headaches are better treated with a hot compress.

All you needed is:

  • A clean towel
  • A bowl of hot water soak the towel in the bowl of water and squeeze out excess water; apply to the forehead or the base of the neck for relief.
  • Applying heat or cold to the sides of the head, the eyes, or along the back of the neck is one of the best ways to relieve the pain associated with a migraine.
  • Heating pads and cold packs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most of these require using a microwave or the freezer before using.

5. Sleep

Lack of sleep also can trigger headaches and migraines, so if you are feeling stressed and washed out, try to create a soothing ambiance and get some sleep. You need to make a consistent schedule in your bed time and wake up times.  A good idea will be to use earplugs and a sleeping mask.  You can use them during your naps during the day. 

6. Drink Water

Water is a great home remedy for treating headaches during pregnancy. Your body needs more water when you´re pregnant.

Drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water. Fruit contains the most water, followed by vegetables, meat, then grains with the least. 

Choose your beverages wisely. Caffeine and alcohol can be dehydrating. For some people, too much fruit juice can cause diarrhea, which can be dehydrating.

7. Bite Some Ginger

Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for nausea. It also acts as a natural headache relief during pregnancy as it has been shown to be effective. Ginger blocks prostaglandins, which stimulates muscle contraction.  By doing this Ginger creates natural muscle relaxation in your tight muscles. Ginger can therefore be an excellent home remedy for headaches during pregnancy.

It can be taken in the form of ginger tea.

Ingredients for Ginger Tea

Ginger tea can be used as a natural remedy for migraine

  • 1-inch long ginger root (3 nos.)
  • Some peppermint leaves
  • Half a lemon
  • 2 cups of water

Boil ginger roots and peppermint leaves in water and let it sit for five minutes. Strain the water and squeeze lemon in it and stir. Consume this tea for relief from a headache.

8. Have a treatment and a backup plan

It’s good to become familiar with and discuss pain plans and pain medications with your doctor before you need them.

9. Eat a balanced diet; not skipping meals

Keep a predictable schedule of meals and snacks.

10. Consider taking a class in biofeedback or other relaxation techniques

Biofeedback therapy is used to help prevent or treat conditions, including migraine headaches, chronic pain, incontinence, and high blood pressure. The idea behind biofeedback is that, by harnessing the power of your mind and becoming aware of what's going on inside your body, you can gain more control over your health.

11. If you do have a migraine attack, try ice packs, massage, and resting in a quiet, darkened room

12. Omega 3 Oil

Omega 3 fatty acids that are found in fatty fish reduce the intensity and duration of headaches

Adding some kind of oil in your diet helps in reducing inflammation. Omega 3 fatty acids that are found in fatty fish reduce the intensity and duration of headaches. Including salmon, and olive oil.  Its always best to get Omega 3 oil from natural safe sources in your diet.
13. Prenatal Massage
Going to a prenatal massage therapist to relieve the stress from shoulders, neck, and back, can be a wonderful therapy. If going out to the therapist doesn’t work for you, then there are certain massages that can be done at home. Try rubbing your shoulders at the base of your skull and below your wrists. Be aware of trigger points that can induce contractions such as the point between the thumb and index finger and avoid them.
14. Cut back on stress
Because stress is a common migraine trigger, it's thought that holistic therapies (including acupuncture, biofeedback, massage, meditation, and yoga) can help alleviate migraine pain.
15. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice has numerous benefits, and fighting headaches are one of them. It also reduces stomach cramps and improves the immune system. Pregnancy can reduce vitamin C levels in the body, causing headaches. Lemon also flushes out toxins from the body and improves blood circulation and works as an anti-oxidant.

Lemon Drink

lemon drink can be used as natural remedy for migraine

  • Half a lemon
  • Some ginger grated (optional)
  • A glass of water

Squeeze the lemon into the water and stir in the ginger and drink. This is an effective method to treat a headache at home while pregnant.

16. Exercise

Regular, pregnancy-safe aerobic exercise (like walking, swimming and stationary bicycling) can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines during pregnancy, and it’s good for the rest of your body and your baby, too.  

17. Yoga

If you are feeling super-stressed, doing some yoga would be a good idea because of the multiple benefits it offers. Yoga helps in reducing stress and can help in getting a good nights sleep. It also makes sure that the body gets the required exercise even during pregnancy. sneakers and head for the gym; exercise only makes symptoms worse.

18. Use Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil has a cooling effect on the skin and can reduce tension. It also lessens headache sensitivity. Take a few drops of the peppermint oil in your palms and rub it in between your palms for few seconds. Apply oil to the temples of forehead and massage for a minute. Do this before going to bed to see positive results.

19. Lavender Oil

Lavender oil also relaxes and soothes the skin. Therefore, massaging some oil onto the forehead can help reduce the pain. Eating a balanced diet; not skipping meals.

Lavender oil also relaxes and soothes the skin. Therefore, massaging some oil onto the forehead can help reduce the pain

Adopting some of these strategies to keep migraines at bay can help you focus on preparing for your baby. No matter what migraine management methods you choose, rest easy knowing you are providing the best care for yourself and your baby.

Here are other migraine home remedies and non-tradition migraine treatments that could be helpful.

Additional Tips To Relieve Pregnancy Headaches

  • Visit a chiropractor; they can help correct postures and bring some relief.
  • Have small meals throughout the day and ensure that you are consuming enough protein
  • Put Epsom salts in your bath water and take a warm bath to relax
  • Try acupuncture to relieve the stress points of your body.
  • Avoid caffein, as caffeine withdrawal can also trigger headaches.

Managing migraine while expecting isn’t simple, but absolutely possible if you know how. Also, having supportive people around you can be very helpful. Learn how to forge strong and sustainable relationships when having migraine.

Compiled using information from the following sources: