Did you know headaches were reported in 35% of pregnant women? Some even experience headaches for the first time ever, and usually starts in their second trimester. The many gifts we receive from our little ones even before they get here.
It is important to identify if the headache is from a primary source like tension headaches or migraines. A secondary source is when something else is causing the headpain like hypertension, pre-eclampsia, idiopathic intracranial hypertension (high pressure in the brain of an unknown source) subarachnoid hemorrhage (blood leaking in the subarachnoid space), or reversible cerebral vasoconstriction (blood vessels in the head are squeezed). We are only going to focus on those that affect pregnancy as I could do another podcast on neurology causing high intracrainal pressure.
Primary headaches are benign similar to tension headaches caused by muscle contractions (have you ever had a stiff neck or hold your stress in your shoulders causing a headache? That’s what I’m talking about. This bilateral headache is usually like a tight band of pain on both sides of the head, just remember no NSAIDS (like Advil, Excedrin, ect) while pregnant.
Foods can also be triggers especially ones that are high in preservatives. You all remember the list of foods not to eat while pregnant, right? If not download pregnancy pukeology episode 5 foods not to eat while pregnant. It will give you a list of do’s and don’ts and believe it or not these foods that are on the bad list can also trigger headaches during your second trimester so stay away from MSG, fermented cheese, and vinegar as these foods contain 2 amino acids, tyramine or phenylethylamine, which these additives can trigger the onset of a migraine.
Migraine, with or without an aura (technical term for visual disturbances), and are usually unilateral, throbbing, and aggravated by light where nausea and vomiting are present. Migraines usually improve in the third trimester and some studies correlate women suffering with migraines are at an increased risk for pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is classified as the new onset of high blood pressure after 20 weeks, with significant proteinuria (or protein found in the urine) which can lead to stroke and seizures if untreated. Flank pain and severe headache is noted with lots of edema.