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Are headaches a sign of pregnancy?

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Did you know that headaches are one of the earliest signs of pregnancy?

If you’re a first time mom, you may think you’re experiencing regular old headaches, but, changes in your pregnant body can be a trigger for these frequent and usually mild bouts of pregnancy head pain.

So, when do these start, how long do they last, and what can you do about them?

Here’s everything you need to know!

Woman braces her temples from headache pain.

What causes pregnancy headaches?

Changes in your hormones as well as an increase in blood volume can cause tension headaches in pregnant women.

You may also feel light-headed or dizzy.

Some new mothers will also have more intense, migraine headaches which are usually focused around on one side of the head and may be accompanied with increased nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.

How soon can you get pregnancy headaches?

Pregnancy headaches may begin in the first few weeks after conception before you even know you’re pregnant.

During this time, your body is going through rapid changes, mostly behind the scenes. You may not realize the headaches you’re experiencing are a result of conception.

More obvious symptoms will begin after your first missed period or around week 5 or 6.

Be sure to learn the 3 stages of pregnancy so you can understand how pregnancy makes you feel in each phase, ways to cope, and which trimester is the hardest.

How long do pregnancy headaches last?

Pregnancy headaches are most common during the first trimester and if they linger, will usually subside or disappear completely during the last 6 months.

However, severe headaches starting around the 20-week mark can be a sign of pre-eclampsia so you’ll want to watch for other symptoms like:

  • Changes in vision
  • Pain just under the ribs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden swelling of the face and extremities

If you experience any of these problems, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible to determine if you have pre-eclampsia.

RELATED: Everything To Know About Being A First Time Mother

What can I do to treat my symptoms?

Headaches are no fun, pregnant or not, but they can be more difficult to treat while you’re with child. Here are some things you can do to alleviate this discomfort:

  • Make sure you’re drinking enough water. Dehydration can exacerbate other headache triggers, especially if you’re anemic.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough rest and that you have moments to relax throughout the day. You may also try low impact, stress-relieving activities like yoga and meditation.
  • If you still can’t find relief, you may be able to take some pregnancy-safe medication. Be sure to check with your doctor first, and only stay on the medication for as long as is needed. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an OTC medication safe for pregnancy. If you need a prescription, Paracetamol is one of the most prescribed pain mediations during pregnancy. This is also a good choice for breastfeeding mothers.
  • If your headaches don’t improve with time, make an appointment to get your blood work done to rule out anemia. If you are anemic, your doctor may prescribe a vitamin regimen to help you regulate.

Like most pregnancy symptoms, these headaches will likely be temporary so don’t get too bummed out!

You can learn more about your pregnancy, like what’s the normal weight gain during pregnancy and when pregnancy is calculated here.

And, here are even more tips for the first time mom, for pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond!