Natural Remedies for Headaches During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, natural remedies for headaches may provide relief. Some strategies include applying cold compresses to the back of the neck, massage, and deep breathing, among others.

During pregnancy, natural remedies for headaches may provide relief. Some strategies include applying cold compresses to the back of the neck, massage, and deep breathing, among others.
Although Tylenol (acetaminophen) has long been believed safe for occasional use during pregnancy, some scientists have suggested using it with caution.1 These home remedies are attractive to many pregnant people because they are not only drug-free, but easy to use.
This article presents some natural remedies for both treating and preventing headaches during pregnancy.
What Causes Headaches During Pregnancy?
The exact cause of headaches during pregnancy isn’t known, but several factors that may contribute, include:2
• Changing hormone levels and blood volume in the first trimester
• Stress, fatigue, or eyestrain can cause a dull headache
• Nasal congestion and runny nose common in early pregnancy may cause sinus headaches
• Hunger and low blood sugar levels may trigger headaches
• People who suddenly stop their morning coffee and other caffeinated drinks may experience caffeine withdrawal headaches
• Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy can lead to dehydration, which can bring on a headache
Headache Relief During Pregnancy
Try these ideas for relief when you have a pregnancy headache:
• For a sinus headache, apply a warm compress around your eyes and nose.
• For a tension headache, use a cold compress or ice pack at the base of your neck.
• Eat smaller, more frequent meals to maintain your blood sugar. This may even help prevent headaches.
• Get a massage, especially around your shoulders and neck
• Rest in a dark room
• Practice deep breathing
• Take a warm shower or bath
• Use good posture, especially in the third trimester
Preventing Headaches
Preventing a headache from occurring in the first place is the ideal solution. This is especially true for people who suffer from migraines — although, the good news is that many people get relief from their migraines in the second and third trimesters.3
Here are some simple, lifestyle habits that a pregnant person can adopt to help stop head pain before it starts:4
• Eat regularly. Skipping meals may trigger headaches for some people, so try to eat nutritious meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day. Choose whole, minimally processed foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Being dehydrated may trigger headaches for some people, so drinking mostly water, along with other fluids, throughout the day may help prevent a headache from starting. During pregnancy, it is recommended that people consume 64 to 98 ounces (8 to 12 cups) of water daily.5
• Include physical activity daily. Try walking, swimming, bike riding, or other moderate aerobic activity to help relax muscles, relieve stress, and improve circulation.
• Get regular sleep. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to headaches. Try to stick with consistent times to go to bed and wake up. Setting a bedtime routine—turning off electronic devices and doing something relaxing an hour before bed; sleeping in a dark, cool room—may help improve sleep.
• Manage stress. Along with exercise, try yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or relaxation training to lower stress levels.
• Consider supplements. Although research is limited, coenzyme Q10, riboflavin, magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 supplements have been proposed to prevent headaches and migraines in particular.67 Talk with your healthcare provider about whether to consider trying these supplements and what dosage is recommended.
For people who get migraine headaches, acupuncture and biofeedback have been shown to be effective treatments for some people.6
You may also want to consider reducing work hours if needed and if possible to reduce fatigue and better manage sleep, exercise, diet, and stress levels.
Always speak to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or medications.
When to See Your Healthcare Provider
If you’re experiencing headaches regularly, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider. If natural remedies aren’t providing enough headache relief, you can talk with your healthcare provider about possible medications to try.
If your headaches get worse or more persistent, or if they are different than the headaches you typically experience, contact your healthcare provider right away.