It is fact that women are more prone to migraine than men. This female predisposition towards the disease has been the subject of several studies and it has been found that migraines are somehow connected to the shift in the levels of hormones in a woman’s body, specifically the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. Within the ninth-month period of pregnancy, the amounts of these hormones inside the body fluctuate; thus, during these times, it is not uncommon for women to experience pregnancy migraine.
There are two typical forms of headaches that cause inconvenience for pregnant women. The first one is the tension headache that is characterized by a dull ache on both sides of the head and neck resulting from stress, fatigue, dehydration or allergies. This is the more common type which affects eighty percent of them. The remaining twenty percent experience pregnancy migraine, which is more painful and lasts longer. These migraines result from the dilation of brain arteries that put pressure on the nerves. This pressure, in turn, brings an intense, throbbing pain that can be debilitating. Aside from the pain, the woman might also experience nausea and vomiting, visual disturbances called aura, appetite loss and fatigue.
Most often, a pregnancy migraine will appear on the first trimester, decreasing in intensity and frequency for the remaining months. Shifts in the levels of bodily hormones, particularly estrogen, influence the frequency and severity of the migraines. It could reduce or increase them. Some experience their first migraine during pregnancy while those who have it prior to pregnancy notice lessening of migraine episodes.
Despite the pain associated with an attack, the migraine is not harmful to the baby being carried by its mother. However, it is important to seek professional medical advice for treatment. The primary reason for this is to make sure that the headaches are really manifestations of pregnancy migraine and not from any underlying illness which could be more serious.
In diagnosing and treating pregnancy migraine, the physician has to find the balance between providing the best relief while ascertaining that the fetus is not adversely affected. For this reason, the application of preventive measures is considered the best option. As much as possible, the use of medications should be avoided. Instead, natural treatments that do not involve drugs are to be employed. Examples of these are doing yoga and stretching exercises, deep breathing, massage and meditation. These techniques have been known to ease pain during pregnancy migraine attacks and to prevent stress. Resting in a dark room, cold compress and sleep likewise bring relief. Other measures can be observed to prevent attacks. Doing light exercises regularly bring great benefits. Trigger foods and substances such as chocolate, cheese, coffee and MSG are to be avoided. If medication is really needed, then acetaminophen can be prescribed. This drug is considered to be generally safe for women with pregnancy migraine.
During pregnancy, a woman finds joy in anticipating the birth of her baby but at the same time she has to cope with physical and emotional changes, which could be quite disturbing. Experiencing pregnancy migraine during this time may add to her anxiety. Fortunately, treatments are available that can still make this time of her life an exciting one.