Why do I get so many painful headaches while pregnant?

Q: Why do I get headaches/migraines every day with this pregnancy? Is it normal? Could it be something serious?

A: Headaches are very common during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester. Your hormone levels are skyrocketing and this can lead to daily headaches. Other common causes include dehydration, abruptly stopping your caffeine intake, increased stress, and poor sleep. Occasionally, pregnancy can cause the shape of the lens in your eye to change, resulting in strained vision and a subsequent headache.

If you suffer from migraines, migraines (like many other chronic medical issues) follow the "Rule of Thirds" in pregnancy: 1/3 of pregnant migraine sufferers say that symptoms improve, 1/3 say symptoms stay the same, and 1/3 say the symptoms worsen.

It is very uncommon for headaches during pregnancy to be serious. If, however, you have any of the following symptoms, it is important to contact your practitioner immediately:

1. Severe headache and loss of consciousness/confusion 2. Severe headache and seizure 3. Severe headache and uncontrollable vomiting 4. Severe headache after head injury (car accident, fall, violence) 5. Severe headache (the worse you've ever had) that wakes you from sleep 6. Severe headache and onset of blurred vision 7. Severe headache and dizziness 8. Severe headache and sudden onset of hand/feet swelling 9. Severe headache with fever and/or neck stiffness and light sensitivity

Answered by Dr. Michele Hakakha

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