As a mom-to-be, you were probably warned about a lot of the pregnancy woes you’re now experiencing, such as swollen feet, a sore back, and joint pain. But one pregnancy pain people seldom talk about is headaches. Because so many doctors discourage the use of certain painkillers during pregnancy, finding ways to deal with chronic headaches during pregnancy takes a little more ingenuity.
Identify Your Triggers
A plethora of things may trigger a headache, depending on what stage in your pregnancy you’re in. In the first trimester, headaches may be due to changes in blood pressure and hormone levels. In later stages, they may be due to changes in body weight, posture, and muscle strain. Other factors that may contribute to headaches during pregnancy include:
- Sleep loss
- Low blood sugar
- Lack of physical activity
- Sinus infections
- Heart conditions
Many of the following ways of dealing with chronic headaches during pregnancy will cover some of these triggers.
Look at Your Eating Habits
Food may be linked to your pregnancy headaches in several ways. In some instances, a specific food may trigger a headache, such as food containing dairy, caffeine, MSG, or aspartame. In other cases, it isn’t so much about what you eat but the frequency at which you eat something. If you’re not getting enough to eat or enough nutrients, this may also trigger a headache. Eating consistent, nutritious meals is key.
Life changes are naturally stressful. Couple this with changes and pains in your own body, and you’re looking at tension headaches. Be sure to take the time to be aware of your emotions and to identify things that are causing you stress. Take time to talk to loved ones about these feelings, and get enough rest. Doing light exercises such as stretching may also offer stress relief.
Get a Massage
Another great way to relieve stress is through massage. Despite common misconceptions, massage and massage chairs don’t increase pregnancy risks. In fact, massage relieves tension and muscle aches, which can trigger migraines and other headaches. Along with this, massage also helps with circulation, and it may improve hormone regulation, which may kick some of those early pregnancy headaches.
Use Essential Oils
Although many people think of essential oils as a recent fad, the idea of aromatherapy is centuries old. Some essential oils, such as lavender or rose oil, are associated with relaxation and stress relief, which can reduce headache-causing tension. However, many women have found that peppermint oil goes the extra step to relieve headaches and the nausea that often accompanies them.
Headaches are to be expected during pregnancy, the same way you might expect swollen feet or an achy back. But just because they’re expected doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about them. If anything, this gives you the chance to equip yourself with the tools to get through them.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.