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How Pregnancy Can Affect Your Migraines

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Changes in hormone levels are known to be a trigger for migraine sufferers. In pregnancy, the levels can change greatly and this will affect whether your migraines improve or get worse.

What happens to a womanís hormones during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a womanís level of estrogen can go as high as 100 times her normal level. Progesterone levels go down to begin with, but come back up towards the time of the birth. Although the levels get a lot higher and lower, the actual fluctuation of the hormones is not as pronounced as it can be when a woman is not pregnant. This could be one reason why migraine can sometimes improve during pregnancy.

Another reason for improvement could be that levels of endorphins (pain-killing hormones naturally released in the body) are several times higher than normal during pregnancy.

Does pregnancy always improve migraines?

Sadly, no. This is especially true for the early weeks. If you get morning sickness and eat and rink less, low blood sugar and dehydration can trigger a migraine. Some womenís migraines improve. If their usual migraine is menstrual and/or without aura, 60 Ė 70% of women find an improvement. Some stay unchanged. If your usual migraine is with aura, they are likely to continue. Some (rarely) become worse and some have their first ever migraine during pregnancy. This is likely to be with aura.

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If you get a bad headache, see your doctor as this can be a sign of pre-eclampsia which needs quick treatment.

Which drugs can I safely take during pregnancy?

If you are planning to become pregnant, now is the time to see your doctor to sort out medication for your migraines before, during and after the baby is born when you may be breast-feeding. Because drugs canít be tested on pregnant women or those who are breast-feeding, the preference is to stop all medications.

If you do need a painkiller, paracetamol is thought to be safe during both pregnancy and breast-feeding. Itís best to take soluble ones as soon as you feel an attack starting. Take them with food to avoid irritating the stomach. You should avoid aspirin when the birth draws near as it can exacerbate bleeding. You should not take more than 600mg of ibuprofen a day. Triptans are not recommended during pregnancy

Many anti-sickness drugs are fine to use in pregnancy. These are:

  • Buclizine
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Prochlorperazine
  • Domperidone
  • Metaclopramide

Itís probably best not to take the last two in the first three months of your pregnancy.

What about drugs when Iím breastfeeding?

If you have to take aspirin or Metaclopramide while you are breast-feeding, donít breast-feed again for 24 hours after you have taken it. A low dose

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of propranolol is safe during both pregnancy and breastfeeding. Amitryptiline and pizotifen are also safe during both.

The following Triptans are safe during breastfeeding so long as you donít breastfeed your baby within 24 hours of taking it:

  • Almotriptan
  • Eletriptan
  • Frovatriptan
  • Rizatriptan
  • Sumatriptan

Am I better trying alternative and complementary medicine?

Many women do. Just be aware that some of these treatments can affect your pregnancy just as conventional medications do. For example, some women love aromatherapy but may not know that some oils (ie rosemary) canít be used during pregnancy. Feverfew and reflexology should also be avoided. Make certain your therapist knows that you are pregnant.

Migraine returning

Some women have a migraine a few days after giving birth. This could be due to the sudden drop in levels of estrogen. Tiredness, dehydration and a low blood sugar can all play their part too. Do not hesitate to contact your doctor.

More important information can be found concerning all types of headaches at http://Headache.HealthHows.com a resource rich site about different types of headache, their causes and treatment.



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