Pregnancy and Migraines
What Does the Research Say?For women with a history of migraines, pregnancy may or may not have an impact on their frequency and severity. Based on a large research study published in the 1994 edition of Headache, 79 percent of women had an improvement in migraine frequency during pregnancy. This study also concluded that pregnant women with a history of migraines had fewer such headaches during the second and third trimesters.
According to another research study published in the April 2003 edition of Cephalalgia, a group of Italian researchers found that about one-half of women had no migraines during the second trimester, and three out of every four women had no migraines during the third trimester. These same researchers found that women who had menstrual cycle-related migraines were less likely to see an improvement during pregnancy.
Up to 2 percent of women with no history of the condition will have their first migraine during pregnancy.
Treatment for Migraines During PregnancyYour healthcare provider may recommend one or more treatment options. These may include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Medications (see Migraine Medications)
- Alternative treatments.
When you are pregnant, lifestyle changes may play a role in limiting the frequency and severity of migraines. These lifestyle changes can include:
- Understanding your triggers (see Migraine Triggers or Migraine Food Triggers) and then avoiding or limiting them
- Reducing stress (see Stress-Related Migraines)
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting adequate amounts of sleep.
A number of medicines are used for treating migraines (see Migraine Medications). However, your healthcare provider may advise against taking most of these, including over-the-counter ones. This is because several medicines have been shown to cause possible problems to the fetus during testing. For example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), which are available both over-the-counter and with a prescription, are generally not recommended during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. You also should not take anything with aspirin in it, since it can increase the risk of bleeding. Most healthcare providers consider acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to be the medication of choice for migraine relief during pregnancy.