Why Do I Get Headaches in Early Pregnancy? And How to Treat Them?

headache in pregnancy

The first trimester of pregnancy brings many symptoms to the body, and headaches are one of them. Not only do you feel strong pain in your head, but some people also experience nausea and vomiting.

So, what are the reasons for headaches in early pregnancy?

Pregnancy hormones cause headaches

In the early stages of pregnancy, there is an increase in the secretion of the female hormone progesterone (progestin). Progesterone is a hormone that is essential for the implantation of a fertilized egg and the continuation of pregnancy.

However, the sudden change in progesterone levels can disrupt the autonomic nervous system, causing the blood vessels to dilate and contract improperly, which can trigger headaches.

Also, vomiting and lack of water intake due to morning sickness can cause dehydration, leading to headaches in some cases. In addition, the autonomic nervous system is disturbed in the early stages of pregnancy, making it easier to feel mentally depressed and stressed.

Prolonged stress can decrease the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps keep blood vessels in the brain in good working order, thus increasing the possibility of headaches. Stress reduces blood circulation, cools the body, and stiffens the muscles, which can lead to stiff shoulders and headaches.

What are the characteristics of a headache in early pregnancy?

Headaches in early pregnancy can be divided into two types: migraine headaches, which are painful around the temples, and tension-type headaches, which are painful throughout the head.

The type of headache depends on the location of the pain and how it is felt, and there are different ways to treat it. It is important to know which type of headache you are experiencing first because the wrong way of dealing with it can make it worse.

Let’s take a look at the different types of headaches that occur in early pregnancy and how to treat them.

Migraine Type

A migraine headache is a throbbing pain on one side of the head (rarely both sides). It is characterized by pain centered on the temples and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. While the headache lasts, you may feel uncomfortable with light, sound, or smells that would not normally bother you.

Migraine headaches are caused by the widening of blood vessels in the brain, which stimulates the surrounding nerves.

The pain increases with physical activity such as going up and downstairs, so it is important to take it easy and rest. Lying down in a quiet place with the room darkened and cooling the head is effective. If you know when you get a migraine, make a note of it and try to change your daily rhythm or adjust your environment.


Tension-type headaches are characterized by a tightening pain in the back of the head and top of the head. It may be accompanied by stiffness in the shoulders and neck, and a feeling of heaviness and pressure in the head.

Tension headaches are caused by constriction of blood vessels and poor blood circulation.

The pain is felt as if the entire head is being squeezed. In addition, when the circulation of blood in the muscles is blocked and fatigue substances accumulate, a heavy pain can be felt from the back of the head to the neck.

Tension-type headaches are common among people who habitually bend forward at their desks. It is also said that psychological stress and anxiety may trigger it.

Is there any way to relieve a headache?

In the early stages of pregnancy, hormonal balance changes and other factors can cause various symptoms in the body. You may be tempted to resort to medication if the headache persists, but over-the-counter medications are not recommended for use during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester when the effects of medication on the baby are significant.

Let’s take a look at how to relieve a headache for different symptoms.

Lie down

If you feel a headache, take it easy and lie down to relax your body and brain. In the early stages of pregnancy, you may feel sleepy and have an irregular lifestyle, so it is important to keep a regular routine.

Cool it down (for migraine)

If you have a migraine, cooling and resting will help relieve the pain. If you have a migraine, cool your head with a cold wet towel and rest until the pain subsides. For migraine headaches, it is also effective to avoid stimuli such as light and sound to let the brain rest. It is best to lie down in a quiet place with a darkened room.

Stretching and massage (for tension-type)

Moderate exercise is effective in preventing tension-type headaches in early pregnancy. Don’t stay indoors, go outside and exercise. If you have morning sickness and cannot participate in maternity sports, a walk is recommended. This will improve the flow of blood and reduce the symptoms of headaches and stiff shoulders.

Is it safe to take medicine for headaches in early pregnancy?

The first trimester of pregnancy is an important time when the baby’s body is growing, so it is not safe to take medication at your own discretion. If you are experiencing severe headaches that are stressful and may have a negative impact on your baby, see your doctor. The basic rule is to take the prescribed medication according to the dosage.

There are various over-the-counter medications that provide pain relief, but they are basically not recommended to be taken during pregnancy. If you are experiencing headaches and need to take medication, please go to your obstetrician for a prescription and avoid taking over-the-counter medications.


During the first trimester of pregnancy, the mother’s body undergoes various changes due to hormonal imbalance. Headaches are one of the most common symptoms in early pregnancy.

However, there are some people who do not want to take the medication in the early stages of pregnancy.

If you don’t want to take medication, but the symptoms are severe and the pain is painful, your first priority should be to take it easy. The first trimester is also a time when it is easy to feel stressed due to symptoms such as nausea and abdominal pain as well as headaches. If you are stressed out, your symptoms may worsen, so try to relax and have a change of scenery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *