Experiencing a migraine during pregnancy is sometimes problematic. If a pregnant woman understands the warning signs and symptoms of a migraine attack, she can treat her migraine pain properly. Now, let’s examine some of the key questions surrounding migraines during pregnancy, and how pregnant women can treat their migraine symptoms.
Migraines During Pregnancy: When Should You Worry?
Migraines may actually decrease in terms of severity and frequency during pregnancy. Research revealed that 50% to 75% of women who previously experienced migraine attacks showed marked improvement in their migraine symptoms during pregnancy. It also showed that these women experienced fewer and less severe migraines during pregnancy.
Comparatively, migraine without aura can begin during pregnancy in up to 10% of women, research indicated. In about 8% of women, migraines become worse during pregnancy. Also, research revealed that roughly 25% of women who experience migraines without aura continue to experience migraine attacks throughout pregnancy.
Some research indicates that migraines are possible predictors of pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage, pre-eclampsia and low birth weight. Yet it is important to note that well-controlled studies are necessary to determine if there is an exact correlation between migraines during pregnancy and any of the aforementioned pregnancy complications.
On the other hand, pregnancy may affect the frequency and severity of a migraine attack. This is often the case in women with migraines without aura. Meanwhile, some women are prone to their first migraine attack during pregnancy or in the postpartum period. Migraine attacks sometimes increase in frequency during the first trimester of pregnancy, with fewer migraine attacks as a pregnancy progresses as well.
Additionally, pregnancy sometimes alters migraine aura, and it may lead to aura without a headache. But these instances are typical of migraine aura during pregnancy. And if a pregnant woman receives proper migraine diagnosis, she can safely treat migraine aura and other migraine symptoms.
Postpartum migraines may occur in the initial days after birth, too. Research indicates that postpartum migraines impact about 34% of women, and they tend to last three to six days following childbirth. Postpartum migraines also tend to be less severe than traditional migraines, and they have been linked to nausea, anorexia and photophobia.
Regardless of when migraines occur during pregnancy, women dealing with these issues must find ways to safely and effectively treat them. If pregnant women explore migraine treatment options, they can manage their migraine pain without putting their health at risk.
How Is a Migraine Treated During Pregnancy?
The first trimester generally provides a good idea about whether a woman experiences migraines, as well as the best way to treat them. If a pregnant woman experiences a migraine attack, she should see her physician. Then, this woman and her physician can determine how to address migraine pain.
Preventative migraine medications are typically not recommended for use during pregnancy. These medications sometimes cause nausea and vomiting to worsen during pregnancy. They can also increase a pregnant woman’s risk of experiencing dehydration.
In one study, researchers indicated pregnant women should first use nondrug therapies to help treat migraine pain. These therapies may include relaxation, sleep and massage, along with the use of ice packs and biofeedback therapy. Following the use of nondrug therapies, pregnant women may consider paracetamol (acetaminophen) as the initial drug treatment for migraine pain. The risks of using aspirin and ibuprofen to treat migraine pain are usually lower than those associated with other types of migraine medications; thus, pregnant women may sometimes use aspirin and ibuprofen to address a migraine attack.
Furthermore, pregnant women may use the antipsychotic medication prochlorperazine to treat nausea associated with a migraine. Research shows that prochlorperazine is unlikely to put a woman in danger during pregnancy and helps alleviate nausea.
Metoclopramide for stomach and esophageal problems associated with migraine pain may be used by pregnant women, too. In one study, researchers stated that metoclopramide is likely only acceptable for use during a pregnant woman’s second or third trimester.
Pregnant women can also benefit from avoiding potential migraine triggers, such as sleep deprivation, skipping meals and emotional stress. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle that includes eating healthy meals at regular intervals and developing and implementing consistent sleep habits can help a pregnant woman prevent migraine attacks. Acupuncture, yoga, meditation and various mindfulness activities may help a woman lower her risk of migraines as well.
What Is the Best Treatment for Migraine Pain?
The best treatment for migraine pain depends on the patient. For pregnant women coping with migraines, meeting with a physician provides a great starting point for treatment. Of course, for patients who are dealing with chronic migraines but find that their medications are ineffective or cause unwanted side effects, additional treatment options may be considered.
Dr. Jonathan Cabin of The Migraine Institute offers comprehensive treatments to chronic migraine patients. He is a board-certified head and neck surgeon with dual subspecialty training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, and he uses his unique expertise to provide a custom treatment for each chronic migraine patient. In doing so, Dr. Cabin helps chronic migraine patients identify the root cause of migraine pain and treat their migraine symptoms appropriately.
Dr. Cabin is available to discuss migraine treatment options for individuals who previously received a chronic migraine diagnosis and are not satisfied with their migraine medications. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Cabin, please contact us online or call us today at 310.461.0303.