Can Pregnancy Increase Migraine Attacks?
Migraine with pregnancy is on so many women’s minds. Perhaps this is because of how much hormones can trigger migraine attacks. My post “Can These Hormones Be Causing My Migraines” discusses the way I managed those with my doctor. That will most likely be an ongoing journey. However, the good news is that according to the American Migraine Foundation between 50%-80% of women have fewer migraine attacks during pregnancy.
Even still the hopeful or expectant mother may have so many questions. What will it be like while we are trying? If we are blessed, what will each trimester be like with a migraine? Will my migraine attacks be worse during pregnancy? Could I be lucky and my migraine attacks be better during pregnancy? If your head has been spinning with these questions or you remember those days, I hear you. Or maybe you are here and someone you care about went through this. Either way, the journey is better with support so stick with those you care about and know you can always come back here for encouragement. Migraine is so powerful. It does not know compassion and seems to strike when we need the most rest. That is also why getting questions answered matters.
Migraine During Pregnancy
Before the Baby
Because my life had taken a detour to get to this place, we hoped we would be blessed with kids soon. I prayed, hoped, and did all I could to ensure we were doing everything to be safe for a sweet little one. I met with all my doctors and intentionally sought out an OB/GYN. We were given the best care and I felt so thankful for the time all doctors gave me. I am sure they giggled at me with my checklist of questions. I really wanted to know what things I could be doing prior to pregnancy. It was important to me that did everything I possibly could.
Even with all my planning life just doesn’t always go along with how we picture things. We know for some the hope of a child is a journey in itself. So when I found out I was pregnant I felt nothing but gratitude and joy. I just couldn’t believe I was getting to live this life. Complaining about morning sickness or being pregnant was something I tried to avoid because I was just so grateful to be able to have our child. My boys are my joy and wherever you find joy hold onto it.
During my first pregnancy, I was one of the lucky ones. My migraine attacks improved during pregnancy. That was hard to believe as well, but a welcomed change. In fact, my doctor at the time joked with us. She said I should just be pregnant all the time. We laughed at that plan, but we were very excited to start our family. I couldn’t take my regular migraine meds, but there were a couple of things I could take. I also rationed myself out to a small cup of coffee and what I could have with that in case I got a migraine. After working with my doctors, I found I could take Tylenol or one of my safe prescription meds, but I tried to avoid those. It is important for each person to work with their doctors and find what is right for them. My system seemed to help and satisfy my coffee/caffeine-addicted self. All in all, I felt very lucky during that time. I was so excited for our little man to arrive!
When we were blessed with our second son things looked quite different. I am going to share that part of the journey because while it is hard to recap some parts of my story it is so valuable to see where you’ve been. I think that’s how we grow as people and hopefully how we can encourage each other.
While we were trying for kids I was off my regular meds, but still on medications that were deemed safe. This meant I couldn’t be on any preventatives that could stay in my body if I became pregnant. My husband and I tried for a while for our second baby. However, my health started to go downhill. I started going to the ER a lot. In fact, we were on a plan to wait to try anymore. I remember sitting in my living room just trying to accept that the answer might be no. We were already blessed. I had no right to be sad. Yet, my heart felt so heavy and it just didn’t feel right. Later that week I found myself unable to get off our bathroom floor. I had made too many trips to the bathroom from our bed and my body just gave out. All I could do was pray. I said, “I give.” I didn’t mean I was giving up on life. I just knew that this was the end of what I could control. I had to let things go and accept what would happen.
The Journey is Full of Blessings
The next week I took a regular pregnancy test. I was taking them all the time even though they were consistently negative. I just did it for peace of mind even though we were not trying. I wanted to be certain I wasn’t pregnant in case they did give me any medication and there may have been a small piece of hope that I would be. They had given me many tests during my ER trips. Well, my eyes were shocked. I got the digital kind because I couldn’t deal with not being able to clearly read those little lines. I said repeatedly to myself, “Where is the not!?” There was no NOT! I was pregnant! What!?! How could that be??? I had been going to the hospital repeatedly and no one knew. I couldn’t believe we actually got to have this baby. I felt so incredibly humbled and knew that now more than ever life can sure surprise you, I realized even in what may seem like dark times you can see light and love.
Medication wise my rescue meds could not be used due to the danger of triptans and I had to get very creative with how I treated my migraine attacks. I got really good at prepping for the ER. Thankfully, after my first trimester, my attacks improved again. So I had a time of relief, but my neurologist did warn me things could change.
We can and should do our best to prepare for pregnancy and our family. Seek medical care, take the vitamins, and do all the things. We also must take care of ourselves. Give your body rest when it asks for it and reach out when you need support. By doing this we are actually taking care of our family too. Even as I type those words I know I myself have a hard time living them. I have much to be thankful for and find myself overwhelmed with this life I get to live from time to time. If only we could see where we are going. Perhaps that makes the journey worth it.
Americanmigrainefoundation.org. (2017, July 11). https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/migraine-pregnancy/
Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the medical and health area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any medical or health-related decisions. For your health-related questions, please seek the advice of a licensed physician or any other qualified health care provider immediately.