Are Headaches Normal in the Second Trimester?

Reviewed on 5/25/2021

Headaches are common in the first trimester of pregnancy and may occasionally occur in the second trimester, but headaches in the second and third trimester could sometimes be a sign of preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure (hypertension) in pregnancy that could become a serious complication.
Headaches are common in the first trimester of pregnancy and may occasionally occur in the second trimester, but headaches in the second and third trimester could sometimes be a sign of preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure (hypertension) in pregnancy that could become a serious complication.

Headaches during pregnancy are common, most often in the first trimester due to the increase in hormones. Most women find that headaches will fade or even disappear during the second trimester, though some women may still experience them occasionally. 

A headache in the second or third trimester of pregnancy could also be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy in which high blood pressure (hypertension) and evidence of organ injury develops in a pregnant woman after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It can also occur after delivery (postpartum). Organs that may be affected include the kidneys, the liver, platelets, lungs, and the brain. 

What Causes Headaches During Pregnancy?

Headaches during pregnancy are most likely caused by the hormonal changes that occur, as well as increased blood volume and circulation. 

Women who regularly consumed caffeine prior to pregnancy and who quit suddenly upon finding out they are pregnant may also have headaches for a short time due to caffeine withdrawal. 

Other causes of headaches during pregnancy may include:

How Do You Treat Headaches During Pregnancy?

Home remedies and natural treatments for headache pain during pregnancy include: 

  • Keep a headache diary to figure out if there are triggers that cause the headache
  • Avoid common migraine triggers such as:
    • Foods and food additives
      • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
      • Nitrites and nitrates, commonly found in processed meats such as hot dogs, salami, and bacon
      • Artificial sweeteners
      • Certain beans and nuts
      • Aged cheese and cultured dairy products such as buttermilk and sour cream
      • Certain fresh fruits such as bananas, papayas, avocados, and citrus
      • Smoked fish
      • Chocolate and carob
      • Fermented or pickled foods such as soy sauce or sauerkraut
    • Glaring or flickering lights
    • Loud noises
    • Excessive heat or cold
    • Strong odors
    • Tobacco smoke
  • Use a warm or cool compress on the forehead or base of the skull
  • Take a cool or warm shower or bath, or splash cool water on your face
  • Eat small meals frequently to prevent low blood sugar
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Get regular exercise 
  • Use relaxation techniques
    • Meditation
    • Yoga
    • Self-hypnosis
    • Biofeedback
  • Get a massage
  • Try acupuncture

For women who want to take medication to treat headache pain, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is generally considered safe for use during pregnancy when taken as directed on the package label, but other headache medicines such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), and most prescription migraine headache medication are not recommended for use by pregnant women. 

Talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) headache medication or supplement during pregnancy. 

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Reviewed on 5/25/2021
References
https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/your-body/headaches-during-pregnancy_2035