Headache experienced during pregnancy or in women who have recently given birth is usually not cause for concern. But a new study suggests that in this group of women, healthcare professionals should be alert to the rarer and more severe causes of headaches, which may point to a significant underlying health condition.

I started having migraines in my mid-twenties when I became pregnant for the first time. I suffered with the migraines, nausea and vomiting for years before seeking help. I think I have tried everything known to mankind, including maintenance medicines, medications for depression, various injections,...

Pregnancy can take its toll on a woman’s body, but reports show that migraine pain before childbirth is unlikely. According to NHF statistics, approximately 80% of women who have migraine stop having migraine attacks from the end of the third month of pregnancy until delivery because of hormonal stability. Though 20% of women still suffer from migraine pain during pregnancy, medication use during this time is discouraged due to potential harm to the fetus. Women typically experience migraine during the first trimester of pregnancy, when the fetus is most susceptible to birth defects that may be caused by medications.  All headache medication should be avoided, but if it is absolutely necessary, patients should consult their healthcare providers.

By Susan Rubin, M.D. Director of the Women’s Neurology Center at Glenbrook Hospital, Glenview, Illinois THE CASE Thirty-six year old Julia wants to have a child, but she has one problem. She has a long history of chronic daily headaches and migraines that she is barely able to control with multiple preventive and abortive medications—medications she worries might not be safe for a developing fetus. She wonders which medications are safe during pregnancy and how she can wean off the ones that aren’t. She also wonders if there are treatments she can use for headache control while she tries to get pregnant and during pregnancy.