Here's Why You Get Headaches When You're Pregnant — And The Only Medicine You Can Take To Treat Them
If you were prone to headaches pre pregnancy, you're more likely to experience them during.
Women have few options for treating headaches while pregnant.
Acetaminophen seems to be the "gold standard" for over-the-counter medications.
It's always best to consult with your doctor about which treatments are best for you.
Knowing what's safe to take for your aches and pains while pregnant can be a challenge.
The internet is full of all kinds of "experts" who may or may not have the most accurate information on pregnancy-related health issues. That's why it's important to communicate with your doctor about what's best for you.
But since you can't always have your doctor on speed dial, it's nice to have quick access to factual information when that killer headache strikes.
INSIDER spoke to a few doctors who specialize in women's health about what's safe to take (and what you should avoid) for a headache during pregnancy.
Headaches can occur during pregnancy due to stress, weather, food sensitivities and lack of sleep.
For women who suffer from severe headaches or migraines during their pregnancy, nine months can feel like forever. Dr. Susan Hutchinson, MD, headache specialist and medical advisor to MigraineX, told INSIDER you're more likely to experience migraines during pregnancy if you suffered from them pre-pregnancy.
She said the top causes of migraines during pregnancy include stress, weather-related changes like changes in barometric pressure, food sensitivities/preservatives, and lack of sleep.
Women who develop conditions like anemia or diabetes during pregnancy are also likely to experience a worsening in their migraine condition.
Pregnant women can't take most over the counter headache medications.
Scan the aisles of any drug store and you're bound to find tons of over the counter (OTC) medications for headaches. Unfortunately, most of them are off-limits when you're pregnant.
Dr. Hutchinson said to avoid prescription medication as much as possible while pregnant because they could potentially harm the developing fetus. She also advised avoiding anti-inflammatory medications such as Aleve, Advil, Motrin, and Aspirin.
Acetaminophen is the only OTC headache medication that's safe for pregnant women to take.
Dr. O. Lawrence Stitt, MD, an OB/GYN at Mercy Medical, told INSIDER that acetaminophen is considered a safer medication compared to the majority of the headache remedies available.
While acetaminophen can definitely help in a pinch, it's also important to note that there are other things you can do to prevent headaches during pregnancy.
Dr. Stitt said to make sure that your blood sugar is always within a normal range. "This can be best managed by eating small frequent meals, which can allow you to keep your blood sugar in a normal range and hopefully, avoid headaches," he added.
Natural remedies like massage therapy and acupuncture are good alternatives to OTC medication.
Dr. Hutchinson prefers natural treatments such as B-2 (Riboflavin) and Magnesium for prevention. She also recommends physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, adequate hydration, and essential oils like lavender and peppermint.
But what happens when preventative measures aren't working and an OTC drug isn't strong enough to alleviate headache pain?
Dr. Daniel Roshan, MD, assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine, told INSIDER that women who have a severe headache or a bad migraine might need stronger medications such as codeine, but anything that serious should only be given under the supervision of a doctor.