Keep headaches in pregnancy at bay

During pregnancy many women suffer from regular headaches. This next article in our series of improving the side effects of pregnancy discusses the reasons for this and suggests some top tips to help relieve them.

Relieve headaches in pregnancy

Why do I get headaches?

During the first trimester, headaches often occur due to changes in your hormone levels and an increase in circulating blood but stress and lack of sleep also play a part. During the third trimester, posture and tension are also contributing factors to headaches.

It is important that you speak with your health care professional or GP before taking medications as some – especially those containing codeine – are not recommended for pregnant women.

Getting to the head of the problem…

Below are some top tips to help you keep headaches at bay throughout your entire pregnancy.

  • Relax, Rest and De-stress – stress can be a big contributor to tension and headaches during pregnancy, so make sure you take some time out, put your feet up and do something to help you relax every day. Having a warm bath, reading your favourite book or listening to some music can help. Treat yourself and you (and your head) will feel much better for it!
  • Do some exercise – taking part in some gentle exercise is a great way to reduce stress and can have a dramatic improvement on many of the side effects of pregnancy – including headaches. Make sure you start slowly with gentle exercises such as light housework, walking or light jogging and swimming. Additionally. there are many classes available for
    pregnant women, so see if you can find any in your local area.
  • Eat regularly – maintaining your blood sugar levels is really important throughout pregnancy and is especially important for reducing headaches. Make sure your body is topped up with fuel by having regular meal and snack times each day. Opt for three meals and two to three healthy snacks. Alternatively, some people prefer to eat little and often throughout the day.
  • Eat well – choosing nutrient-rich foods over those empty calories from high fat, high sugar foods can help make sure your body (and your brain) is getting all the nutrients it needs. Try and have a well balanced diet with foods from all of the four main food groups: wholegrain carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, protein and dairy.
  • Keep hydrated – dehydration can contribute to headaches. Make sure you have the recommended six to eight glasses of fluid each day, with more if you are hot or exercising, and try and choose water or 100% juice whenever possible.
  • Stay away from alcohol and keep consumption of sugary foods and drinks to a minimum, as these can often make headaches worse.

Importantly, consult your GP if your headaches continue for a prolonged period or if you are in any doubt as to the severity of your headaches.

Photography: Mislav Marohnic @Flickr

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