Treating Headaches During Pregnancy Complicated by Possible Affect on Unborn Baby
In about 75% of cases migraines decrease or disappear during pregnancy. The remaining quarter of women who continue to experience headaches during pregnancy must contend with the fact that many of the medicines that are effective against migraines will affect the uterus and penetrate the placenta to affect the unborn child.
Some migraine medications run the risk of inducing an early labor, although one study found no adverse affects from taking sumatriptan during the first three months of pregnancy. Preventative medicines should not be taken until the last trimester. Amitriptyline and imipramine have excellent safety records when administered late in pregnancies but should not be taken for the last two weeks before delivery. Topiramate has been known to increase occurrences of cleft palate in newborns and should not be used during pregnancy.
The best approach for dealing with headaches or migraines during pregnancy is to stress non drug based treatments including preventative methods. In particular, close attention should be paid to diet for foods that trigger headaches. Some patients find that foods that cause headaches during pregnancy are ones that had no affect before pregnancy.
Pregnant women experiencing headaches should test the affect of a small amount of caffeine on her headaches. Although it's a headache trigger in some patients, caffeine is also found in many extra strength over the counter pain medications in combination with acetaminophen and aspirin. Although they should be monitored by a physician, over the counter pain medication are generally safe to use during pregnancy. Acetaminophen has been used by pregnant women for decades and has never been associated with any birth defects or pregnancy complications.