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Headaches During Pregnancy
By Barbara Parker, RN, ARNP, CNM

Q. I am 16 weeks pregnant and have suffered with headaches from the beginning. I never had migraines prior to pregnancy so I wonder why this is happening. My doctor said it is ok to take tylenol, but I don't like to I don't have to. However, in the past few weeks, the headaches never seem to go away and are getting more debilitating where I am sick to my stomach and end up in bed the whole afternoon. I try to maintain a healthy diet and get exercise but this is very frustrating.

A. Actually, headaches are usually BETTER in pregnancy, because the progesterone causes the blood vessels to relax and not spasm, which is often a cause of bad headaches. You must be particularly sensitive to your hormones.

Does your doctor realize how much they are interfering with your life? I agree that tylenol is the first line of defense, but there are other options. You can't take migraine medicine at all, but if you talk with him, maybe you could try something else. Sometimes Elavil or a calcium channel blocker helps.

Have you considered there may be an allergic component? Food allergies are particularly bad about giving folks headaches too.

Last but not least, a massage is sometimes very helpful.

I had one patient who had horrible headaches, and she tried reflexology and acupuncture--the reflexology was helpful, temporarily, but the acupuncture did the trick.

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