Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Pregnancy Headaches

Pregnancy is a physiological condition during which several medical conditions appear due to hormonal disturbance. Pregnancy headaches are very common during the first and second trimesters. The most common cause of pregnancy headaches is usually hormonal imbalance.

Pregnant females may suffer from different kinds of headaches for different periods. Usually, there is nothing to worry about. But, if you feel frequent headaches at the end of pregnancy periods, it may be an indication of some severe disease.

A medical report dictates that about 39 percent of pregnant females usually suffer from headaches during this period.

Pregnancy headaches during the first trimester have different causes as compared to headaches during the second or third trimester.

It is necessary to maintain the record related to the frequency of headaches. Increased frequency with severity may indicate a severe disease like pre-eclampsia.

What kind of headaches appeared during pregnancy?

The most common type of headache is usually a primary headache. It means that a headache starts by itself without any concerning the disease.

Such types of headaches resolve themselves without indicating any complications. Primary headaches usually involve:

  • Tension-type headache – usually because of stress
  • Migraine attacks
  • Cluster headache

Usually, pregnant females suffer from tension-type headaches. Moreover, women with a history of migraine get fewer migraine attacks during pregnancy.

Pregnant females can also suffer from secondary headaches. These types of headaches are usually associated with some complications. The most common complication of secondary headache is high blood pressure.

What does a pregnancy headache feel like?

The severity and frequency of pregnancy headaches may vary from person to person. You may feel

  • Dull ache surrounding your whole head
  • Throbbing or pulsating pain
  • Severe pain
  • Sharp pain

Pregnant females with migraine may feel

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Aura (flashes of lights or lines)
  • Blind spots

What are the causes of pregnancy headaches?

There are different causes of headaches during the first, second, and third trimester. Let us have a look at the causes of pregnancy headaches.

First trimester:

Tension-type headache is most common during the first trimester of pregnancy. Several changes like hormonal, higher blood volume, and weight occur during the first trimester. The most common causes of pregnancy headaches during the first trimester are:

  • Stress
  • Dehydration
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Poor nutrition
  • Decreased blood glucose levels
  • Caffeine withdrawal

Second and third trimester:

There may be different causes of headaches during the second and third trimesters. Some of them are the following:

  • Weight gain
  • Posture probl3ms
  • Poor diet
  • Muscle strain
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure

Gestational hypertension:

Some pregnant females may suffer from high blood pressure during the second or third trimester. Either, high blood pressure is treatable during this period, but it may cause several complications. Some of the common complications are as follows:

  • Stroke
  • Eclampsia
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Low oxygen support to the fetus
  • Preterm delivery – usually before the 37th week
  • Placental disruption
  • Decreased baby birth weight

How to manage hypertension during pregnancy?

Consult your physician regularly to treat your hypertension. Cut down on salt products. Increase fiber products in your diet. Maintain regular exercise. Take your medication prescribed by the doctor.

How do prevent pregnancy headaches?

Prevention is better than cure. Pregnancy headaches can be avoided by following proper health care. There are some precautions to follow:

  • Must drink at least eight glasses of fluid or water per day to avoid dehydration
  • Take enough sleep to stay healthy and active
  • Maintain a healthy and balanced diet with proper nutrients and minerals
  • Relax yourself to maintain peace of mind

When to worry about pregnancy headaches?

Usually, there is no need to worry about primary headaches. Because primary headaches are not related to any complications. But, there is a need for proper medical care if you feel a headache at the end of the second trimester and onwards. Consult your doctor immediately if you feel the following symptoms:

  • A severe headache that lasts long. It may be a symptom of pregnancy-induced hypertension or gestational hypertension.
  • Headache associated with vision disturbances
  • Swelling on your face, hands, feet, or stomach
  • Back pain
  • Discomfort in the lowest part of the stomach
  • Raised body temperature
  • Nausea and vomiting

Your doctor may recommend different diagnostic tests and scans to identify the cause of headaches. Some of these tests include:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood tests
  • Blood glucose test
  • Vision test
  • Heart or head scan

Do read: Your Free Best Pregnancy App – ‘Pregnancy Journey’

Treatment for pregnancy headaches:

There is a need to maintain a proper check and balance about the medication during pregnancy. Drugs used during the first trimester may have a severe impact on the fetus. There are several drugs that serve as teratogens. Teratogens have negative effects on the growth of the fetus.

It is advised to not take any medication for headaches during pregnancy. These are some of the remedies to get relief from pregnancy headaches.

  • Oil massage
  • Exercises
  • Using ice pack
  • Using heat pads
  • Using essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, etc


Headaches are usually common among pregnant females. In the first trimester, the most common type is a tension-type headache.

There is nothing to worry about. It may recover itself. But, in mid to late pregnancy, the causes of pregnancy headaches are usually severe.

High blood pressure is a common cause during the late pregnancy period. High blood pressure may cause several complications during pregnancy.

This usually happens due to gestational hypertension. Monitor your blood pressure regularly to avoid any complications.

Consult your physician if you have a severe headache. Follow the prescribed diet and supplements by your doctors. Pregnancy headaches are treatable if managed properly with medical care.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs):

Is it normal to have a pregnancy headache every day?

Yes, as hormones go up and down, it is normal to have a headache during pregnancy. Pregnant females suffer from more headaches due to hormonal imbalance.

Can I take paracetamol for pregnancy headaches?

Paracetamol is a safer drug of choice for pregnant females during the first trimester. But, avoid self-medication. Consult your physician every time before taking any medication.

Mehedi Hasan

Mehedi Hasan is an enthusiastic health blogger and the founder member of WOMS. He likes to share his thoughts to make people inspired about their fitness. He is an experienced writer and author on highly authoritative health blogs.

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