Headaches in Pregnancy

Here are some natural solutions that may provide relief:ginger

  • Apply a few drops of lavender oil, peppermint oil, or Tiger Balm to the temples; these have been shown to safely and effectively reduce headaches.
  • Many headaches are a result of neck and shoulder tension, so don’t overlook the value of massage, a gentle osteopathic manipulation, or craniosacral therapy for headache prevention and relief.
  • Magnesium can help reduce a tension headache; take 400 – 800 mg/day of magnesium glycinate, or if constipation is also a problem, magnesium citrate in the same dosage.
  • Take 2 ginger capsules once or twice daily if you feel a headache coming on; it is a natural anti-inflammatory herb that is considered safe in pregnancy
  • Take a hot bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts, and 5-7 drops of lavender essential oil – the combination of magnesium in the Epsom salts, the aromatherapy from lavender, and hot water is deeply relaxing and can help relieve a headache.

Additionally, there are several herbs that are generally considered safe for use in pregnancy, including:

  • Chamomile as a tea or tincture for mild headaches
  • Lavender as a tea or tincture for mild headaches
  • Cramp bark (use tincture, 1/2 tsp every 4 hours)
  • Black Cohosh (1/4 tsp every 4 hours, NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH BLUE COHOSH which is NOT TO BE USED in pregnancy) which I use in combination for more moderate headaches.

For a really painful, hard to get rid of headache, I have used Jamaican dogwood (15-2o drops, every 4 hours, up to 4 doses, and not for more than one day, on occasion). Though it is often contraindicated in pregnancy, this is really due to lack of studies, and in this small amount, used infrequently, may be a reasonable alternative to acetaminophen. I also combine it with cramp bark..

If you have a sudden onset of a headache, a more severe headache than usual, any visual changes or upper abdominal pain with your headache, or if you have a history of high blood pressure, please see your midwife or physician promptly as these can be signs of more serious illness, like pregnancy induced hypertension or preeclampsia.

If you have frequent headaches, getting to the root cause by making sure you are getting enough sleep, reducing excessive inflammation with dietary and lifestyle changes, and making sure you are getting all of your nutrients, including essential fatty acids and protein, is key to optimal wellness and the best thing you can do for you and baby. You might also want to consider working with a functional medicine, integrative medicine, or naturopathic physician skilled in pregnancy care.


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