Pregnancy migraines
Migraines are unpredictable when it comes to pregnancy. This article discusses how to recognise a migraine and how pregnancy can cause or decrease the number of migraines depending on the person

Migraines are unpredictable when it comes to pregnancy. If you have a history of migraines, the during pregnancy they may get better, but they might also get worse. It’s also possible to have your first migraine experience when pregnant. Here’s what you should know.

Some may think that you’re exaggerating if you start complaining about migraines, above all the other aches and pains you’re likely to be carrying along with your baby. However, the truth is that a migraine is a common disorder, affecting about 18 percent of women during pregnancy. But how does one recognise a migraine?

About Migraines

Migraines are a type of vascular headache caused by the blood vessels in the head constricting and then dilating. When the blood vessels dilate they cause severe pain and sometimes other symptoms.

A migraine headache usually starts out dull and then eventually becomes a throbbing constant pulsating pain in the temples, front of the head or base of the head.

Migraines are sometimes but not always accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Some people may experience an aura - which is when they see wavy lines or dots of flashing lights - and in severe cases it is also possible to experience tunnel vision or blind spots. 18 percent of women and only 6 percent of men suffer from migraines.

Migraine Symptoms

  • Severe pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision or visual disturbances
  • Nausea/vomiting

Migraines during pregnancy

Hormonal changes are thought to have an influence in bringing on migraines, where it has been found that with the fluctuations in the oestrogen levels, most women are more susceptible to having migraines before they are due to have their period or whilst they are menstruating. This, according to Dr Elliot Shevel - founder of the Headache Clinic - is because it somehow affects the muscles or the arteries, causing tension.

A study has shown

In a study carried out by researchers at the Institute of Nervous Diseases at the University of Rome, the results showed that during pregnancy, migraine sufferers had fewer attacks than before their pregnancy:

As the pregnancy progressed, attacks became fewer and fewer - so much so that during the last three months, 80 percent of the patients in the study experienced no attacks at all. Not only did the frequency of attacks decrease, but the intensity of the pain was not as severe.

The only exception was for those who experienced an aura before the attacks and showed no improvement during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, in most cases, the migraine returned after the birth of the baby. What emerged from the study, however, was that the rate of recurrence of the migraine following the birth was strongly influenced by the type of feeding.

With breastfeeding, 43 percent of patients reported the recurrence of their migraines within a month. With bottle feeding however, there was a 100 percent recurrence in the first month! Once breastfeeding stops though, the migraines usually resume their old pattern. The migraine was also twice as likely to return in women having their first child, as in those having their second or third children. Women below the age of thirty were also twice as likely to experience a recurrence.

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