Headaches During Pregnancy: Medication & Natural Options

Updated in June 2023

​Headaches during pregnancy are more common during the first trimester. They can occur for many reasons, like hormonal changes, fatigue, nasal congestion, low levels of blood sugar, stress or hunger. Generally, headaches during pregnancy tend to improve or go away when hormones start to stabilize. 

Nonetheless, headaches can also occur due to more serious reasons, like increased blood pressure. Constant headaches can also cause stomach pain or blurry vision, which may be a sign of pre-eclampsia. In this case, you should see your obstetrician immediately to confirm the underlying cause of your headache and start appropriate treatment. Pre-eclampsia can be harmful to your pregnancy if it is not assessed and treated. 

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Medications to relieve headaches 

You should only use medication during pregnancy as indicated by your obstetrician. Some medications can be harmful to you or the baby.

Normally, the obstetrician will only prescribe medication if headaches are intense, if they do not resolve with more natural measures, or if you also experience symptoms like nausea or vomiting. Most times, the doctor will recommend acetaminophen. 

How to relieve a headache naturally 

Before using medication to relieve your headache, you can try more natural options like: 

  • Resting in a peaceful environment that is well-ventilated, quiet and dark 
  • Apply a cold compress to your forehead or neck 
  • Apply a warm compress around your eyes and nose if you headache is related to nasal congestion 
  • Lightly massage your forehead, the base of your nose and your neck using the tips of your fingers 
  • Massage your feet in a bowl of marbles, making sure to move your feet over the marbles to relax and relieve pain 
  • Ensure you eat every 3 hours in small, light quantities 
  • Take a bath in warm or cold water, or wash your face with cold water. 

Acupuncture may also be a natural solution to help treat constant headaches during pregnancy. 

When to see the doctor

It is very common for pregnant women to have a headache at some point of their pregnancy due to hormonal changes. However, you should see your obstetritian if your headaches are frequent or accompanied by other symptoms like stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, feber, seizures, fainting or blurry vision. These symptoms can indicate another health problem that can compromise your pregnancy.