How to treat a headache during pregnancy?

Bella Brennan

Bella Brennan

Bella is a writer and editor with over a decade of experience in women’s publishing and digital media. In her spare time, she loves making up dances to the Wiggles with her two little girls, swimming in the ocean and trying to sneak away from her family for a cheeky nap.
Updated on Jul 09, 2024 · 3 mins read
How to treat a headache during pregnancy?

Ahh pregnancy. Say hello to swollen breasts, all-day nausea (seriously, whoever called it morning sickness was a liar!), and suddenly wondering whether or not it’s safe to take medication if you have a headache. For many pregnant mamas, the change in hormones can trigger headaches, which can be a tricky issue to manage, along with all the other weird and wonderful things going on in the body. Yep, growing life for nine months is no joke! So as you embrace your ever-changing body, you might be asking yourself: “What can I do about headaches during pregnancy?” Keep reading as we answer all of your questions.

Can I take paracetamol while I’m pregnant?

The recommended dose of paracetamol is one or two 500mg tablets at a time. As per Health Direct, it is safe to take paracetamol (Panadol) while you are pregnant and breastfeeding, but always speak to your doctor first, especially if you are on other medications.

“Paracetamol is considered the first choice of painkiller if you are pregnant since it has been taken by large numbers of pregnant women without any adverse effect on the mother or baby,” Health Direct explains, “As with any medicine taken during pregnancy, pregnant women should seek medical advice before taking paracetamol. If you take paracetamol when pregnant, make sure you take it at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest possible time.”

Treatment for headache during pregnancy

  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Even just a walk or mild aerobic exercise can help.
  • Keep a diary to see if there are any certain foods or odours that have triggered a headache, and then avoid them.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule and try to get at least eight hours of shut-eye every night.
  • Eat regularly so you don’t get hunger pains, and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Place a warm or cold cloth over your eyes and temples.
  • Fluids, fluids, and fluids! Keeping well-hydrated throughout your pregnancy will prevent headaches.
  • Try a neck or scalp massage.


Headaches and migraines: what is the difference?

Primary headaches happen occasionally and usually pass after a few hours. The most common type of headache is the tension headache, which presents with localised pain in the neck and head and muscle tightness.

Migraines are frequent and long-lasting, and can cause additional neurological symptoms including:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Hallucinations
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting

Reasons for headache during pregnancy

Headaches during pregnancy are common, especially in the first and third trimester when your hormones surge. Other reasons for headaches during pregnancy include:

  • Bad posture as your baby gets larger
  • Low blood sugar
  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation (you can blame all those late-night wee trips to the loo for that!)
  • Withdrawal from caffeine if you’re no longer drinking coffee or tea

Mild headaches during pregnancy are common and are usually no cause for concern. When possible, rest and drink plenty of water. It is safe to take Panadol as long as you’re not on any other medications that will interfere with it. Just always double-check with your doctor beforehand. If you are worried about the intensity and frequency of your headaches, it could be a marker of a more serious medical issue and you should see your doctor straight away.

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