Headache Home > Pregnancy and Migraines

In women with a history of migraines, pregnancy may or may not have an affect on their frequency and severity. In previous studies, a majority of women experienced a decrease in migraine frequency, particularly during the second and third trimesters. During pregnancy, these headaches are treated primarily with acetaminophen, since many medications can cause problems for the developing fetus.

An Overview of Pregnancy and Migraines

Headaches are quite common during pregnancy. Most of these are tension headaches; however, migraines can also occur during pregnancy.
A migraine headache is a severe pain felt on one, and sometimes both, sides of the head. The pain is mostly in the front, around the temples, or behind one eye or ear. In addition to pain, you may have nausea and vomiting, and be very sensitive to light and sound (see Migraine Symptoms). While migraine headaches can occur at any time of the day, they often start in the morning. The pain can last a few hours or up to one or two days.
Research scientists don't know what causes these headaches. However, there are a number of things that people with migraines tend to have in common. For example:
  • Most often, migraine headaches affect people between the ages of 15 and 55, though they can affect people as young as 5 years old
  • Many people have a family history of migraines
  • They are more common in women
  • These headaches often become less severe and frequent with age.
So what about migraines during pregnancy? Are they more or less common? When they do occur, how are they treated?
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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