Q:

Is there any relationship between increased frequency of headaches and pregnancy?

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The number of headaches a woman experiences often increases with pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, according to the Utah Department of Health. Dehydration, caffeine withdrawal and low blood sugar commonly occur during pregnancy and can trigger headaches. Headaches may also arise due to the changes in hormone levels and blood circulation that occur during pregnancy. Lack of sleep, general tiredness and stress may also increase headache occurrences.

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Women who have migraine headaches may find that their symptoms decrease while pregnant due to changes in their estrogen levels, notes WebMD. Unfortunately, some medications that prevent migraines can also cause birth defects, so women should discuss any migraine medications with their doctors. Pregnant women should notify their doctors of any increases in headaches to rule out preeclampsia, which can cause throbbing, lingering headaches, states the Utah Department of Health. Preeclampsia typically occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.

To prevent mild headaches while pregnant, women should establish a routine that includes regular meals, daily moderate exercise and sufficient sleep, instructs Mayo Clinic. They should also try to minimize stressful situations and use deep breathing, yoga or other relaxation techniques to manage anxieties. To treat mild headaches without medication, women can apply cool compresses to their foreheads while lying down. Depending on their own medical histories, it may also be safe for pregnant women to use acetaminophen to relieve occasional headache symptoms.

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