Headache In Pregancy

Lifespan Osteopathy Essendon / Headache  / Headache In Pregancy

Headache In Pregancy

Many of our recent posts about pregnancy-related pain have focussed on lower back and pelvic girdle pain.  Whilst these are some of the most common conditions we see in our pregnant patients, mums-to-be, just like the rest of the population, can present with all sorts of conditions!  


Pregnancy is a time of dramatic change to your body. 


No-one really knows why, but some bodies just seem to adapt to these changes a little better than others.  Even for the same woman, two different pregnancies may be completely different.  


When you present at Lifespan with pain in any area of your body while you’re pregnant, it’s our job to try to help your body adapt as best as possible to the miraculous changes occurring within it.  


Aside from PGP and low back pain, perhaps the next most common ailment we see in our pregnant clients are headaches. 


There are a few reasons why pregnant women may experience headaches. 


The majority that we see are perfectly normal events in an otherwise well mother, however, as with all headache presentations, we do have to be on the lookout for signs that indicate something else may be going on.  This post is aimed at highlighting the 2 main causes of headache in pregnancy.  


  1.  Postural Changes:


The most common reason we’d see headaches in pregnant women is due to postural changes. 


These changes actually begin quite early in the pregnancy, often before the woman is visibly pregnant. 


These postural changes can place extra strain on the neck, which in turn can lead to headaches.  These headaches often have very similar features to tension headaches, often respond well to Osteopathic treatments. 


Symptoms include:

  • Dull, persistent pain that may vary from mild to moderate in intensity 
  • Usually felt on both sides of the head or neck 
  • A constant, tight, heavy or pressing sensation on or around the head
  • Tenderness of scalp, neck and shoulder muscles
  • Trouble concentrating and/or difficulty sleeping


A simple tips that may help if you think you are suffering from these types of headaches is to ensure you are wearing well-fitting, supportive bras.  This is especially important in women who are large-busted even while not-pregnant, or in women who notice a significant increase in breast size early in their pregnancy.  Ensuring your bra is actually doing the job it is designed to do will take some strain off your upper back and neck, and may help minimise your headache symptoms.


Lifespan Osteopaths are well placed to assess your body, and determine if your headache fits into this category.  



2.  Hormonal Changes:


Another common reason for headaches are hormonal changes. 


During the first trimester, there are hormonal surges, as well as an increased blood volume, all of which are in place to allow for the healthy development of the baby.  However, an unwanted side effect of all these extra fluids is headache, as your body tries to accommodate the increased pressure within. 


We may assist your body to manage these by using techniques targeting the lymphatic system, as well as treating any physical strains that may be contributing. 


However, these headaches are often a little trickier to manage, as aside from getting as much rest as possible, and keeping up your water intake, your body just sometimes needs time to adjust to its new role as baby-maker.  


3.  Pre-Eclampsia:


An important headache type that we cannot miss is pre-eclampsia, where the woman’s blood pressure is dangerously elevated, and there is impaired liver and kidney function.  Pre-eclampsia can occur from 20 weeks’ gestation, so the timing of the onset of headache may be one indicator that this could be occurring. 


This is a significant medical condition, and if suspected, urgent referral to the woman’s medical practitioner is warranted.  


If you are suffering from headaches in pregnancy, you can read another of our pregnancy blog posts titled “Our Top 10 Tips To Help You Manage Your  Pregnancy-Related Pelvic Girdle Pain” here, as some of these are also relevant to postural strains, or our headache blog post here.  


If you are ready to take the next step, why not call or book online now, and see for yourself how we may help you?