As anyone who’s experienced a migraine can tell you, migraines can be extremely debilitating. Performing even the simplest of tasks becomes nearly impossible when suffering through a typical migraine. That’s why, for many migraine sufferers, pregnancy poses a whole new set of challenges. Given that many of the traditional anti-migraine medications are unsuitable for pregnant women, this makes treating this disruptive condition something of a challenge.
In this week’s article, we’re going to explore some practical approaches to helping you deal with migraines during your pregnancy. Take a look.*
What causes migraines?
When it comes to migraines, there’s no scientific consensus as to the underlying cause of this condition. There are, however, different explanations offered by scientists. According to some theories, migraines can be caused by the release of chemicals in the brain, which cause swelling in the brain’s blood vessels, thereby stimulating the pain response. Other theories have suggested links between the onset of migraines and the activity of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and estrogen. Given the hormonal changes that occur in our bodies during pregnancy, this might explain why many women experience migraines during their pregnancy.
Whatever the actual underlying cause, the simple fact remains: migraines can be an extremely unpleasant and debilitating experience. But - you might be wondering - how common are migraines during pregnancy?
Oddly enough, many former migraine sufferers report a decrease in symptoms during their pregnancy. In fact, almost two thirds of migraine sufferers report an improvement in their symptoms during their pregnancy. For those unlucky few who find themselves still suffering with migraines, however, finding safe and appropriate ways to deal with them can be something of a challenge. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some potential remedies.
What can I do to prevent the onset of migraines?
Generally, your doctor will advise against using many types of medication during your pregnancy. This will almost certainly apply to the use of migraine medication. In fact, many of the more common anti-migraine medications are known to pose risks for pregnant women. Numerous anti-migraine medications have been linked, for example, to birth defects, miscarriage and other pregnancy complications.
Even with some of the newer medicine, little research has been done into the effects on pregnant women, so the potential side-effects are not fully known. For these reasons, it’s essential that you discuss your options with your doctor in depth. Discuss the potential risks of different medications and get as much information on the different medications as possible, and the results of their clinical trials.
- Keep a Migraine Diary
One thing which is clear to many migraine sufferers is that there appears to be a link between migraines and certain foods and drinks. Many women notice that there migraines coincide with the consumption of caffeine, for example, or artificial sweeteners, or nitrate-heavy foods, like bacon, salami or other smoked meats. For this reason, you should keep a log of your migraines to help determine potential triggers.
When you experience a migraine, begin by noting the following:
1) The intensity and duration of the migraine.
2) Date and time of day it occurs.
3) A log of everything you consumed in past 24 hours.
4) Any changes in environment or routine.
If you notice a pattern in your diary, start by removing the recurring element and see if this helps.
- Stay Hydrated and Nourished
When our blood sugar gets low - or we’re dehydrated - we can start experiencing the onset of headaches and migraines. Try to keep healthy snacks with you at all times. Nuts, fruit, and other healthy foods make great options.
- Take a Shower/Use a Damp Cloth
For some people, a cold shower can help alleviate a migraine. You can also try splashing cold water on your face. Similarly, try applying a cold cloth to the back of your neck or to your forehead. This might help relieve the pain.
- Meditation & Other Relaxation Techniques
Meditation and visualisation are great for reducing stress and anxiety. Similarly, they’ve also been shown to help some migraine sufferers. To practice a basic visualisation technique, do the following: Get into a comfortable position in a quiet room or space. Next, visualise a relaxing environment or safe space and imagine you’re there. Take deep, slow breaths, inhaling through your nose, and exhaling through your mouth. You should notice yourself getting more relaxed as time goes on.
- Lay Down in a Quiet, Dark Room
When migraines strike, many people find it helpful to rest in a quiet, dark room. Too much stimulus can exacerbate the symptoms of migraines, and so it can help to simply calm yourself away from the hustle and bustle of your household.
When should I seek professional advice?
Sometimes, migraines and severe headaches can be an indication of an underlying medical issue. If you experience a migraine during your second or third trimester, for instance, this could indicate preeclampsia, which affects the blood pressure. For this reason, it’s important to contact your doctor if you suspect your migraines might be linked to an underlying condition. If you’re experiencing a migraine or severe headache for the very first time, contact your doctor and explain symptoms.
*The above information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult a doctor or specialist before making any important decisions regarding your health.