Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Headaches in Pregnancy

Why are headaches so prevalent in pregnancy?

Headaches occur when the brain is not receiving enough oxygen. Your body makes use of 60% of all the oxygen intake and approximately 40% of oxygen intake is claimed by your brain. As the pregnant body grows it requires more oxygen and sometimes fails to send the necessary oxygen to your brain.

Tiny blood vessels and veins surrounding your brain begin to swell when they are deprived of adequate oxygen. The consequence is pain and in some cases blurred vision as different parts of your brain are pressured by the swollen veins and blood vessel. This pressure creates the throbbing or aching sensation within your head.

Possible Causes of Reduced Oxygen to the Brain:
1) Tension in the Upper Back and Neck Musles
2) Lack of Sleep
3) Poor Nutrition
4) Anxiety/Stress
5) Shallow Breathing

Pregnant women ought to avoid pain medication for headaches in pregnancy whenever possible. The medication may reduce the symptoms temporarily, but will not treat the sources of the problem.


First, remove any obvious triggers from the above list.

-Take conscious measures to eat well and get adequate sleep. As difficult as it is to get uninterrupted sleep in the latter months of pregnancy, schedule time for short power naps.

-Request that your husband or partner give you short regular massages using a large ball like a volleyball or a small ball like a tennis ball in tense areas.

-Identify stress in your life and determine what can be removed or dealt with in a positive way.

-Practice deep abdominal breathing for at least 15 minutes each day. Inhale deeply, expanding the lungs through the back and all the way down the diaphram. Then realease the breath slowly. The more regularly you practice, the easier it will become to train your body to breathe deeply as a regular practice.

As you increase the fresh oxygen supply to your brain your headaches should subside.

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