Headache in Pregnancy: When Should I Really Worry?

April 12, 2024

Are you having a headache in pregnancy and don’t know what to do? In this article, we’ll talk about how to stop headache during pregnancy, when you should be worried, if you can take paracetamol, and how is the headache caused by preeclampsia.

How can I stop headache in pregnancy?

Experiencing headaches during pregnancy is quite common, particularly in the first trimester.

These are often a result of hormonal shifts, changes in blood volume, or stress.

The good news is, there are ways to manage these pesky pains.

Firstly, maintaining a regular sleep schedule is crucial.

Lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns can trigger headaches. Eating regular meals can also help keep blood sugar levels steady, preventing headaches.

Rest and relaxationTaking breaks, lying down in a quiet, dark room, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.
HydrationDrinking plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, which can help alleviate headaches.
Regular mealsEating balanced meals regularly to maintain stable blood sugar levels, avoiding skipping meals.
Cold compressApplying a cold compress or ice pack to the forehead or neck for 15-20 minutes to reduce pain and inflammation.
Warm compressUsing a warm compress or heating pad on the neck or shoulders to relax muscles and relieve tension headaches.
Gentle massageMassaging the temples, neck, and shoulders with gentle pressure to relieve tension and promote relaxation.
Acupuncture or acupressureSeeking treatment from a qualified practitioner for acupuncture or acupressure to alleviate headache symptoms.
Over-the-counter medicationConsulting with a healthcare provider about safe options for pain relief, such as acetaminophen, in appropriate doses.

Additionally, regular gentle exercises like prenatal yoga or walking can aid in circulation, reducing the occurrence of headaches.

Make sure to hydrate adequately, as dehydration is another common trigger for headaches.

On another note, finding efficient stress management techniques can also be beneficial.

Deep breathing, massage, and meditation can help alleviate tension headaches. However, remember every pregnancy is different.

Hence, what works for one woman might not necessarily work for you.

It’s always wise to consult your healthcare provider before making any major changes in your routine.

When should I be worried about headache in pregnancy?

While headaches are quite typical during pregnancy, there are times when a headache may signal something more serious.

In the second and third trimesters, a severe or persistent headache could be an indication of preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure.

If your headache in pregnancy is coupled with vision changes (like blurriness or light sensitivity), severe upper abdominal pain, sudden weight gain, or rapid swelling in your hands and face, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately.

Additionally, if you have a headache that lasts more than a few hours or leads to nausea, vomiting, or fever, you should contact your healthcare provider.

headache in pregnancy

Can a pregnant woman take paracetamol for headache?

When it comes to medication during pregnancy, the rule of thumb is the less the better.

That said, paracetamol is generally considered safe for short-term use during pregnancy.

It’s a common over-the-counter medicine used to relieve pain and reduce fever.

However, it’s essential to take it as directed by your healthcare provider, and not exceed the recommended dose.

Long-term use or heavy use of paracetamol during pregnancy should be avoided as it may lead to adverse effects.

Is it normal to have a migraine at 15 weeks pregnant?

Experiencing migraines during pregnancy, including around the 15-week mark, is not uncommon.

Fluctuating hormone levels, particularly a rise in estrogen, can trigger migraines in some women.

However, if you were a migraine sufferer before pregnancy, you might notice an improvement in your symptoms during pregnancy.

For some women, migraines become less frequent and less severe while they’re pregnant.

But every woman’s experience can differ.

What does a preeclampsia headache feel like?

Preeclampsia headaches can be quite severe and are often associated with other symptoms of preeclampsia.

These headaches are usually persistent and throbbing, often felt on both sides of the head.

Often, these headaches are accompanied by other symptoms such as blurred vision, seeing spots, sudden weight gain, and swelling in the hands and face.

Preeclampsia typically starts after the 20-week mark in pregnancy. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention as this condition can have very serious adverse effects.

How early can preeclampsia start?

Preeclampsia is a serious condition that occurs in pregnancy, characterized by high blood pressure and damage to organs such as the liver or kidneys.

Typically, it begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal.

However, in some rare cases, preeclampsia can occur earlier in the pregnancy or even postpartum.

Preeclampsia is a serious condition that can have severe impacts on both the mother and baby if not treated promptly.

Therefore, regular prenatal visits are essential for early detection and management.

We are with you.

Headaches during pregnancy can be tough to handle, but understanding their causes and knowing when to seek help can make a significant difference. We at Parentalife are here to help you throughout all your life as a parent or parent-to-be. We support you with our courses and consultancies.


Phillips K, Davison J, Wakerley B. Headache in pregnancy: a brief practical guide. Br J Gen Pract. 2022 Nov 24;72(725):593-594. doi: 10.3399/bjgp22X721457. PMID: 36424161; PMCID: PMC9710804.

About the Author

Severino Cirillo

Health, Wellness and Education Expert. With a degree in Community Health, he is the CEO of Informed Parent and is responsible for validating the blog's scientific information and coordinating the editorial team of experts, consisting of gynecologists, midwives, psychotherapists, and others in pregnancy, perinatal, and parenting wellness and health.