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.