Health Care

Headaches During Pregnancy and How to Treat Them.

Pregnant Woman with Headache

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Natalie Rochester, MD, FACOG
Natalie Rochester, MD, FACOG

During pregnancy, your body can experience a lot of discomfort, and one of the most common sources of discomfort can come from pregnancy-related headaches. The good news is that most of the time headaches during pregnancy are not harmful to mom or baby. It’s recommended that you talk with your OB/GYN or midwife about any headaches or discomfort you might be experiencing while pregnant.

Read on to learn more about pregnancy-related headaches, their causes, and expert advice from AdventHealth Hendersonville’s OB/GYN, Natalie Rochester, MD, FACOG.

What are the 3 Different Types of Pregnancy Headaches?

Any type of headache you experience outside of pregnancy can happen during pregnancy. But according to Dr. Rochester the 3 most common headaches are:

  • Tension Headaches: This is the most common type of headache during pregnancy. It can feel like a band across the forehead, around the back of the head and neck, and tightness in the neck and shoulders.
  • Migraine Headaches: Migraines usually occur on one side of the head or the other and are most often present intermittently before pregnancy but can continue throughout pregnancy.
  • Cluster Headaches: These are less common but can occur in pregnancy. Cluster headaches usually are associated with pain around the eyes or temples around the same time each day.

What are Pregnancy Headache Symptoms?

Every woman is unique and can experience headaches differently. Some common symptoms of headaches are:

  • Dull ache
  • Severe pain on one or both sides
  • Sharp pain behind one or both eyes
  • Throbbing or pulsating pain

And many migraines can include:

  • Aura (seeing lines or flashes of light)
  • Blind spots
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

What Causes Pregnancy Headaches?

Headaches during pregnancy can be caused by a number of things in the different trimesters. The most common time to experience discomfort from headaches is during the first and third trimesters.

Dr. Rochester explains, “The hormones associated with the growing placenta and baby can in some instances trigger headaches. Stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, lack of adequate or frequent calories can also trigger headaches in pregnancy. Some women also cut out caffeine and a sudden change in caffeine intake can trigger headaches. Physiologic, hormonal and anatomy changes (think about carrying a full-term baby around) can change posture and cause neck/back and headache pain.”

How Do You Treat Pregnancy Headaches?

Treating headaches can be dependent on the cause of the headache. Most headaches can be treated with conservative measures during pregnancy. Dr. Rochester reminds us of these important tips:

  • Stay well hydrated
  • Get physical activity, unless advised by your provider to not do so
  • Eat small frequent meals
  • Practice self-care and relaxation techniques

Dr. Rochester adds, “First and foremost, any severe or sudden headache should be evaluated by your provider. There are serious health conditions that can trigger severe headaches and/or headaches that don’t resolve with conservative measures. Any time you experience new or severe symptoms you should seek care from your OB/GYN provider.”

Whole-Person Maternity Care

Throughout your pregnancy and beyond, AdventHealth Hendersonville is committed to providing whole-person care for you and your baby. Our team is conveniently located to provide support and compassionate health care for every step of the journey.

“As a member of the OB/GYN team it is a privilege to be able to care for the whole patient,” Dr. Rochester shares, “In doing this I like to build a relationship with each patient and get to know them, educate, and support each patient through her pregnancy care and beyond.”

AdventHealth Hendersonville’s OB/GYNs care for patients at our offices in Hendersonville and South Asheville. To learn more or schedule an appointment visit or call Call855-774-LIFE (5433).

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