Your pregnancy and baby guide

Headaches in pregnancy

Some pregnant women find they get lots of headaches. They are most common in early pregnancy and usually improve or stop completely during the last 6 months.

They don't harm your baby, but they can be uncomfortable for you.

Coping with headaches in pregnancy

It's generally considered safe to take paracetamol, following the packet instructions, to treat headaches while pregnant. But use the lowest dose that works and only take it for as long as needed.

You can get advice from your pharmacist, midwife or GP about how much paracetamol you can take and for how long.

Read more about taking paracetamol in pregnancy.

There are some painkillers you should avoid in pregnancy – such as those containing codeine, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen – unless prescribed by your doctor.

You can also make changes to your lifestyle to help prevent and treat headaches. Try to:

  • drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • get enough sleep – read tiredness and sleep in pregnancy to find out more about tackling this
  • rest and relax – you could try a pregnancy yoga class, for example

When to seek help for headaches

Call your midwife, GP surgery or NHS 111 immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • a very bad headache
  • problems with your vision, such as blurring or flashing lights in your eyes
  • severe pain just below your ribs
  • vomiting
  • sudden swelling in your face, hands or feet

These could be signs of pre-eclampsia, which can lead to serious complications if not treated.

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

Find out more about health problems in pregnancy.

Page last reviewed: 28/02/2018
Next review due: 28/02/2021