I. HATE. MIGRAINES. This past Thursday was horrendous. It was triggered by sinuses, I think, but somehow morphed into pressure and pulsing so bad that it literally hurt to move. Laying down hurt, getting up hurt, light hurt, dark hurt. Whisper from across the room, and you may as well crawl into my eardrums and beat on pots and pans, because IT’S TOO MUCH. And this doesn’t help:
I put Penelope down for a nap and then before I knew it, I got…sick. Like 4 times. My head was spinning so bad that I guess my body had to do something with that tornado. It made me nervous because I hadn’t gotten sick like that in either of my pregnancies (so far), so I worried there was something truly wrong: maybe I caught a bug? The last time I had an episode like that was years ago and it turned out to be food poisoning, and lasted for 2 days. It’s one thing to have your body go through that, but when you’re pregnant, it’s a whole different ball game because it’s not just you being affected.
The hypochondriac in me started asking questions: What if it wasn’t pregnancy-related? What if I had a virus? What would I need to do differently, since I’m pregnant? So I called the doctor’s office and spoke to a nurse.
NURSE: What seems to be the problem, dear?
ME: I’m 14 weeks pregnant, and I just threw up!
NURSE: (long pause)… And?
Well played, Nurse. Well played. I imagine she was thinking of responding, “DEAR GOD WOMAN don’t tell me you have swollen ankles and an aversion to foods, too!?!” but instead she listened as I explained that it wasn’t nausea related, that it was due to a migraine, and that I was worried on what to do if it kept happening. Because migraines suck, and being pregnant with a migraine is no picnic. And you can’t start popping pills to make it go away.
Migraines in pregnancy, I learned, can be caused by many things. But one major culprit is because, especially in the second trimester, your blood is now more thick due to pregnancy. Actually my midwife called it “sludgy” (um, yuck?). Another factor is hormones, which are always fun; just ask my husband.
Regardless of what brought the migraines on, I just needed it to go away, and fast. I had a 5-step action plan that thankfully worked for me, so I wanted to share in case you’re suffering, too.
5 Ways to Cure a Pregnancy Migraine
- Drink a cup of coffee. This was actually the first thing the nurse suggested I do. I know some are strict with a “no caffeine” rule while pregnant, but I adopt the view that a little bit is OK and I usually have my one cup in the mornings. I didn’t have one on the morning of my migraine/upchuck session, but after hanging up the phone I immediately brewed myself a cup. Caffeine helps thins your blood, which is why the nurse suggested it.
- Hydrate. I stick to good old fashioned water with a lemon squeeze, and if I’m getting sick I switch to Smart Water because it has added electrolites. I also drink at least one ginger tea per day – here’s my recipe. When it comes to liquids it’s best to keep it clean and simple, and drink a lot of it. This also helps with blood flow.
- Take something. Geez, what’s wrong with me – first caffeine, and now drugs?! I try to avoid taking anything during pregnancy at all costs, but Tylenol is what we had on hand and it’s the one thing your doctor will likely say you can take, particularly in your 2nd trimester and beyond. If you’re going the homeopathy route, ask your doctor about belladonna.
- Use one of these.
I got one of these herbal eye masks when I was pregnant with Miss P, and it definitely helped. You can put it in the microwave to heat it or in the refrigerator to cool it, which always feels good, and the soothing and intoxicating lavender and mint scent from the leaves inside will make you feel even better. It won’t take your migraine away, but it will ease it up a bit. At the very least, it’s a great excuse to lock yourself in your room and get some rest. Nature’s Approach Aromatherapy Lavender Eye Pillow with Satin Backing Herbal Pack
- Stay away from triggers. Dairy is a known trigger for migraines, so cutting out the dairy can be a big help. I’m not a big dairy person anyway other than Greek yogurt here and there and the occasional
pintcup of Talenti (good LORD, Talenti is amazing), but being extra careful while pregnant can really help lessen the vice that is pressing on your temples. Other known migraine triggers are cheese, strong smells, such as perfumes, and hunger, so especially in pregnancy, make sure you’re snacking so your blood sugar levels don’t drop.
What about you: what helps your migraines? Any other tips?