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Postpartum Migraines: An Unexpected Story

grayscale photography of a baby for postpartum migraines topic
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Postpartum Migraines

My Story

So thankful for my little ones and I can’t imagine my life without them. Before having them I wondered what postpartum migraines would be like. Two pregnancies and two different stories.  I will share them here knowing that we each have our own story and we can encourage each other through them. 

Blessing Number 1

My first baby was born about a month early. I had an emergency C-section.  We did not know it, but his umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck. I was so relieved to know he was ok.  Coming out of that surgery he was taken to the NICU right away so I barely got to see him.  I was so thankful to know he was alright and my hope was to see him soon.  

When back in my room my pain level was high and it took the doctors awhile to get it under control.  This included from the birth and the migraine return. My neurologist had warned me that my migraines could come back with a vengeance.  

Post Partum Migraine Part 1

Unfortunately, my doctor was right. After the hours unfolded my migraine worsened and I had at that point only been wheeled down to the NICU in my bed. My little boy was inside the incubator and I remember just crying because I could not hold him.

Finally, some of the meds worked enough for me to hold my boy.  I was able to have some skin to skin contact in the NICU. Those nurses will forever have a place in our hearts. They took the best care of our son and I truly believe they taught us many skills during his time there. Perhaps parenting 101 was a blessing in disguise.

Throughout my inpatient care, I was still not in good shape.  The doctors began to treat me for my migraine, but did not realize how severe they were. I was released from the hospital and had to go straight to my neurologist’s office.  

He treated me in his office and was so kind.  He gave me a new medication I had not tried and was supposed to work quickly.  He took extra time to make sure I was ok and wheeled me out to the car himself.  What an example of compassion!

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Finding Treatment

From there I ignored my neurologist’s advice to go home and rest.  He had good reasons, but this new mom went straight back to the NICU.  It would have been impossible to keep this mama from her baby at this point. 

Fortunately, at that time I had found a new medication that proved very effective.  This nasal spray started providing relief within minutes and combining that with some things from my own kit worked well.  

That was part of my migraine regiment for quite awhile.  Over time my body changed and I had to add in different medications.  It seems that is part of the journey.  It is a constant adjusting and listening to your body. I will be writing more about those changes.

Blessing Number 2

When my second little one came I was so much more relaxed.  Due to my health and the first one being an emergency C-section we had a planned C-section.  In my post Migraine and Pregnancy I wrote about the challenges of dealing with hormones and pregnancy during that first trimester.  I was fortunate to have things improve as I got further along in my pregnancy. 

This also gave me hopes that things would be better after pregnancy.  My delivery went well and for the first day I was so happy.  My little boy was in my room and my pain was controlled.  One of my closest friends was even there to visit before moving to Japan. It was such a sweet moment.

Postpartum Migraine Appearance

However, that night things changed very quickly.  All of a sudden I started having intense chest pains and a horrible migraine.  I called the nurse and a whole team of people came into my room.  They came with machines and in a way that you knew they meant business. I felt bad for my husband who was wide awake after that entrance.

As they checked my heart and asked what was wrong they started to talk about how to treat me.  Ironically, my chest pains were bad, but my migraine was worse.  I was panicking because I thought they were going to prioritize my chest pains and give no relief for my head. 

Fortunately, they were on top of both.  It is always a little funny when a doctor orders a big coke as part of your treatment, but that has happened more than once.  This doctor had never treated me before.  I did agree that caffeine is something I have integrated in the past, but said there should be a lot in my file on migraines.

This time was especially hard because I was too dizzy and week to hold and care for my new baby. So that relief and bliss of everything being “normal” this time had slipped away. My husband was a rock star. My heart was hurting in more ways than one, but there was nothing I could do.

Soon after that my migraines were targeted with specific meds.  Over the next two days I was still dealing with both pain from my head and chest, but was eventually released.  Call it a mama’s determination to be home with her baby.  You see they actually discharged my son before me.  I just could not stand being there without my baby. My heart ached to be home.

close up of a cute baby for postpartum migraine post
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Postpartum Migraine Part 2

Back with a vengeance was spot on once again.  This round brought a whole new regiment of meds.  In addition to figuring out what migraine medicines I needed I had other unforeseen complications.  I had postpartum preeclampsia. I had never heard of that.  I thought that was only a condition you had during pregnancy, but learned firsthand that was not the case.

Since there were concerns with my heart I had been put on blood pressure medication even though I had never had high blood pressure. It was all with good intentions. Throughout my first week home I was pretty miserable. I didn’t feel well on the medicine and I was unaware of what was about to happen.

At one point my migraines and chest pains increased to an unbearable level again. I was also taking my blood pressure regularly during these episodes. It seems my body had some healing to do.

crop doctor with stethoscope in hospital
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Not Again

So, one week after childbirth I was back in the hospital being treated for postpartum preeclampsia which also produced more severe postpartum migraines. I was very discouraged at this time. However, I did find a little relief that I had been moved from the ER back to the maternity ward with my regular doctor. Here I was also with the staff who had just cared for me so they were extra kind.

Doctors were still looking into my chest pains as well.  It was determined there were some concerns with my troponin levels at birth, but my condition improved and I was cleared.  I was monitored for awhile and very thankful for excellent care. Having doctors who care is so valuable to your health.

When I finally got to go home I was just so thankful to be with my family and new baby.  It is almost a blur, but yet I remember it so vividly at the same time.  It is amazing what your body can do!  Each moment in that part of my story makes me more thankful for my sweet boys.

After things calmed down I started taking some preventatives and that has been the latest chapter.  A few years of finding what works, what changes, and not giving up.  More to share on those. 

Reflection

My journey involved a lot of challenges, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s will.  My story also involves a lot of blessings and joy!  Throughout all of those times I was loved and given two healthy baby boys.  They fill my heart with so much joy and love their mama so well.  I could not imagine loving them anymore. My heart is so full.

affection baby barefoot blur for postpartum migraines story
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Patient Checklist for Postpartum Pregnancy

  • Plan how you will treat migraines with your doctor
  • Go over hormone management if that is a trigger for your migraines
  • Be aware of any other complications
  • Be your own advocate and don’t delay contacting your health care professional
  • Don’t give up in finding what medicines and other migraine strategies can work for you
  • Enjoy your new baby
  • Give yourself grace
  • Reach out for help

Looking Ahead

I would love to discuss any topics readers are interested in so please email those on the contact page!  Migraines and work, sleep, and relationships will all be coming up. 

Thank you for being here.  Connect with us on Facebook from our contact page. 

12 thoughts on “Postpartum Migraines: An Unexpected Story”

  1. As an aspiring OBGYN I found this post very interesting. I am so sorry you had to experience severe migraines during and after your pregnancy. Also, so glad to hear your first son was okay! I can imagine how worries you felt after hearing that the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck. You are strong and thank you for sharing this

  2. This was interesting! Migraines during pregnancy sounded beyond rough! I like reading stories about these. I was born size of a premie baby so it’s interesting to hear and see other stories like this!

  3. So sorry you had to go through all that! I suffered from pre-eclampsia with my first two but never postpartum. So scary and I cant imagine migraines on top of that! Thanks for sharing your story and helping spread knowledge on the condition!

  4. Wow I can’t believe what you went through. I’m a migraine sufferer. I’ve been for years now. Both my pregnancies were so hard because I hard migraines everyday for the first trimester.

    There were times I thought I couldn’t go on. Thankfully they reduced with some medications and other natural treatments.

  5. I hadn’t realized postpartum migraines were a thing. Women are so strong and go through so much for families. Happy you have your babies and thanks for sharing your story!

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