Pregnancy and baby

Headaches in pregnancy

Headaches in women are often caused by hormones, and many women who are not pregnant notice a link with their periods. Menopause and pregnancy are also potential triggers.

Some pregnant women find they get a lot of headaches. Headaches can get worse in the first few weeks of pregnancy, but they usually improve or stop completely during the last six months. They don’t harm the baby but they can be uncomfortable for you.

Coping with headaches in pregnancy

Changes to your lifestyle may help to prevent headaches. Try to get more regular rest and relaxation. You could try a pregnancy yoga class. If you’re having problems sleeping, you can find out more about tackling this in tiredness and sleep in pregnancy.   

Taking paracetamol in the recommended dose is generally considered safe for pregnant women. However, there are some painkillers that you should avoid in pregnancy, such as those containing codeine, unless prescribed by your doctor. 

Speak to your pharmacist, midwife, GP, nurse or health visitor about how much paracetamol you can take and for how long.

Can I take ibuprofen in pregnancy?

Can I take paracetamol in pregnancy?


Use this service search to find a pharmacy near you.

When to seek help for headaches

If you often have bad headaches, tell your midwife or doctor so that they can advise you. Severe headaches can be a sign of high blood pressure and you should seek urgent advice, as this could indicate a serious condition called pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a condition that affects some pregnant women during the second half of pregnancy or immediately after the delivery of their baby.

Women with pre-eclampsia have:

  • high blood pressure
  • fluid retention (oedema), and
  • protein in the urine (proteinuria)

If it's not treated, it can lead to serious complications. In the unborn baby, pre-eclampsia can cause growth problems.

Find out more about symptoms of pre-eclampsia and treating pre-eclampsia.

Find out more about health problems in pregnancy.


Coping with stress

There are many ways of coping with stress. Professor Cary Cooper provides some techniques for managing stress, such as exercising and using relaxation techniques, and explains who you can talk to if you're feeling under pressure.

Media last reviewed: 21/09/2014

Next review due: 21/09/2016

Page last reviewed: 18/02/2013

Next review due: 18/02/2015


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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

papercrane said on 16 October 2014

Its not very helpful to suggest pregnancy yoga for headaches that "get worse in the first few weeks of pregnancy, but they usually improve or stop completely during the last six months" as most classes won't take you until you are 12 weeks plus.

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CrisZa said on 01 August 2012

I am 7 weeks pregnant and last week I had a migraine crises for 3 days. In the A&E the consultant gave me Co-Dydramol to take. Nevertheless, after reading this article I got worried.....I don't think I should have taken it.

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